Does Posture Matter?
Please slouch (at least every once in a while).
     At some point in your life, you have probably been told to “stand up straight”, “pull your shoulders back”, or “suck in your belly.” Or if you have visited a rehab specialist you may have been told to “correct your pelvic tilt”, “flex your core”, or “squeeze your shoulder blades together.” All of these are common cues (with different verbiage) to “fix” your posture. While sometimes cues can be helpful to reduce discomfort while preforming a given exercise, we should not apply these cues to all human movement. The assumption that there is an ideal posture that we should strive towards stems from the corrective paradigm.

     This paradigm can be harmful as it implies that humans are fragile and susceptible to pain or dysfunction resulting from minor deviations from a set “ideal”. This paradigm may seem attractive as it offers a solution or a “fix” for our problems. Unfortunately, the corrective paradigm is largely misleading as it steers clients to believe that minor deviations cause major problems. This view is simply too reductionist and often undermines our ability to become robust, tolerant, and strong individuals! In this post, I will debunk this corrective paradigm concept while addressing the real question, does your posture really need fixing and is it causing (or will it cause) pain.
     If we look at the evidence surrounding posture, we find that there is no gold standard identified to tell us what is good and bad posture. Therefore, when someone corrects your posture, they are often using a commonly accepted aesthetic to achieve a different posture (i.e. standing tall to appear thinner or broader to project a strong physical presence). If we take a deeper dive into the evidence, we find that:
  • 80% of people without pain have an anterior pelvic tilt
  • Text neck or forward-head posture does not correlate with neck pain
  • Standing posture is highly variable and is not a predictor of low back pain
     So when might posture matter? Posture does matter when you assume a static position over a prolonged period of time. One example is individuals who can NEVER move out of a specific position, such as a soldier maintaining an at attentionposture. Sustaining one single posture (no matter how proper it appears) will likely cause pain regardless of the individual – especially if it is a new posture. Another example would be sustaining a slouched position at your office desk all day long. A posture that you repeatedly adopt for too long may cause a problem. This applies to your slouched posture as well as your perfect, tall, Amazonian-like posture. A sustained posture can be reframed from a postural problem to a movement variability problem. Simply put, our bodies move in a multitude of different ways and denying our body of movement variability is more likely the cause of pain associated with prolonged postures. 
     Let’s take a deeper look in to the science of sustained posture. Our bodies have sensors called Acid Sensing Ion Channels (ASICs) located in our tissues that detect changes in pH value. When we sit for too long or do not move around frequent enough these ASICs detect the tissue becoming more acidic and convert this pH change into a sensation of pain or discomfort. Have you ever found yourself constantly shifting or fidgeting in your seat at work? This is likely your ASICs at work!

So what does this all mean?
  • You do not have to worry about maintaining a perfect posture to get out of pain
  • If you are in one posture for too long, it may be helpful to move out of that posture and move your body often throughout the day. Try a brisk walk in your office or a quick jaunt up and down the stairs
  • Move often!
     In summary, the human body is amazingly adaptable! Every time we exercise, we are demanding our bodies to adapt to increasing load – the more we exercise and adapt, the higher loads our bodies can sustain! We can extend this sentiment to posture – the more we move, the more adaptable and resilient we can become to varying postures. 

Does your posture need fixing? Probably not!

But do you need to move more, increase your tissue capacity, and work towards a more robust you? Probably!

Written By: Thomas Abbass


Sleep for Gains

     Is your workout helping your sleep? Are you sleeping enough to help your workouts? According to Stats Canada, one in three Canadians are sleep deprived (7-9 hours is the recommended amount). Canada is actually the third most sleep deprived country in the world (behind the UK and Ireland). Since you’re getting this blog, it’s safe to assume that you are among the 20% of Canadians who exercise ‘regularly’, which means, sleep is super important for you.

     As I’m sure you know, sleep is the best way to conserve energy, and of course repair tissue in the body. This is key for anyone who works out, and getting the right amount of sleep is even more important when you train regularly. Essentially, the more you workout, the more sleep your body needs. Seems obvious right? The not so obvious part is that a good workout can actually help you sleep better. Studies have shown that intense exercise can lead to deeper sleep, and consistent exercise has been shown to reduce insomnia by reducing your stress levels, anxiety, and depressive symptoms.

     To get the full benefits of your sleep and exercise combo, here are a few other things you can do to help improve your ‘Workout to Lights-out’ routine:
AM Cardio, PM Weights
     Not a deal breaker, but hitting your cardio circuit in the morning and your weights at night is another way to improve your sleep. Most people who run in the mornings spend more time in the deep sleep cycle, and the same is for those who do their lifting at night. Lifting weights in the morning is fine too, but evening workouts that make you sweat, may make it harder for you to get to sleep. Our bodies temperature usually drops at bedtime, which is what signals our system to fall asleep. A cardio workout will keep your body temperature higher for longer, which is why your evening workout should be lifting. I would recommend doing them both in the morning and get it over with, but don’t be afraid to lift that heavy weight at night.

Evening Protein Shake
     Are you a late night eater? Put the dessert away and treat yourself to a late night protein shake. Why? When you consume protein, it breaks down into amino acids in your body which help build your muscles. Typically, we only consume protein with meals and don’t eat close to bedtime, so there aren't a lot of amino acids available to your body for overnight muscle growth. Drink a shake close to bedtime and make gains while you sleep.

Sleep Earlier
     This seems like an obvious one, but people who sleep just 30 minutes earlier are said to have better workouts. Sleep, or lack of sleep, actually affects your perception of how difficult a workout is. When you’re tired, your brain will automatically do its best to convince you to save your stored energy, which could mean making a workout seem more difficult than it is (which then makes your trainer mad, then they make you do burpees to ‘snap out of it’ and on and on...vicious cycle). Getting to bed 30 minutes earlier is enough to tackle the workout the next day.
     So turn off that Netflix, make a shake, tuck the kids in bed 30 minutes earlier, and get that sleep to make those gains!

Written By Kevin Yeboah
Strength and Conditioning Specialist

Unilateral Training: Why It's Beneficial for Your Training

Unilateral Training:

Why It's Beneficial for Your Training

What Is Unilateral Training?

Unilateral means one limb or one side of the body.

Why it’s important?

Help Correct Imbalances
It’s extremely rare to have a perfect symmetry. When we exercise in a traditional sense, bilaterally (both legs, both arms), we tend to overcompensate to one side, which in time can lead to injuries and stagnant strength gains.

Improves midline stabilization
Your midline (core) has to work harder to keep upright and balanced.

Improves balance
Not only does your core get over worked, but so does your overall stability of the working limb, depending on upper or lower body movement. With improved ability to stabilize limb by limb comes stronger muscles, tendons and joints. Decreasing the risk of injury, and longer term stability.
Try These Unilateral Movements:

Alternating Dumbbell Chest Press
Grab a pair of dumbbells. Lie on your back on a bench, and hold the dumbbells a few inches above your chest. Press one dumbbell upward until your arm is fully extended. Pause and slowly retract extended arm to start position. Then complete the same motion on the opposite side. Continue in an alternating manner.
Bird Dog Row
Rest your left hand and knee on a bench, with your right leg on the floor for support. Lift and extend your left leg straight out and use your right hand to pick up a dumbbell. Row the dumbbell straight up until your upper arm is parallel with the bench. Slowly return to the starting position. Repeat on the opposite side.
Bulgarian Split Squats 
Stand lunge-length in front of a bench. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and rest the top of your left foot on the bench behind you. Lower your body until your rear knee nearly touches the floor and your front thigh is parallel to the floor.
Try a full body workout!
Alternating Dumbbell Chest Press x 10 reps per arm
Rest 30 sec 
Bird dog Row x 10 reps per arm
Rest 30 sec 
Bulgarian Split Squats x 10 per leg
Rest 2 minutes 
Complete 3-4 rounds (using a medium to light weight) 

Written by Alex Manson
Strength and Conditioning Specialist

Grip Strength: Why It Matters For Your Shoulder

Grip Strength:

Why It Matters For Your Shoulder

The shoulder is a complex joint that involves many different structures and motions. It is the connection between the upper limb and torso and is highly involved in many sports/activities. This also means that it is an area that is often injured within athletic populations, including those participating in regular resistance training. It has been estimated that up to 36% of resistance training related injuries involve the shoulder complex (1). These injuries have a broad range with regards to the specific structures being affected, the type of injury, and the specific mechanisms causing the injury. These cannot only impact your performance in activities/gym, but also in your daily life.
So why does grip strength matter? 

Grip strength has been shown to correlate with overall function of the shoulder.

A study by Antony et al found an increase in shoulder muscle activity (increased shoulder stabilizer activation, decreased activation of compensatory muscles – anterior/middle deltoid) occurred when the amount of force used to grip increased (2). This basically means that if you squeeze your hand harder, there will be increased muscle activity in muscles that help stabilize the shoulder. Another study by Horsley et al, looked at the connection between grip strength and rotator cuff strength in healthy individuals. They found there was increased strength the rotator cuff in individuals that had higher grip strength (3).

Try this!

  • Place your right arm at your side and your left hand on your right shoulder. You can hold onto an object, or just make a fist with your right hand. 
  • Start to squeeze the right hand, slowly ramping up the strength till a max contraction. 
  • You will notice that as you start to increase the strength of the contraction, the muscle activation starts to increase in the shoulder (you should feel the muscles in the arm/shoulder fire). 
There have been several proposed reasons for this relationship. One involves the concept of irradiation, which entails the transmission of neural impulses from a contracting muscle to the surrounding muscles. This will not only increase the activation of the surrounding muscles, but also increase their strength output (if they are involved in the action). Another theory is that the tension/forces are transmitted via myofascial/myotendinous expansions running up the arm, providing a network for this transmission (4).
What makes up grip strength? 

Most people believe that overall grip strength is purely produced by the flexors of the forearm (muscles responsible for closing the hand). But it is actually also involves the extensors of the wrist/hand (muscles that open the hand). These will act as an opposing force to the flexors to help create functional stability of the joint (4).

How can this help me?

Try incorporating exercises that involve the use of grip strength (carry variations, Kettle Bell “bottoms-up” presses, 1-arm hangs, etc.) into your routine. It can be beneficial to not only build muscle, but also increase grip strength.

Suitcase Carry
Kettle Bell "Bottoms Up" Press
Grip strength alone is not the cure for all shoulder injuries!

There are many different factors to consider for each individual case and injury; this is just a small piece of a much bigger puzzle. This post is meant to shed light on an often overlooked area when it comes to shoulder health and function. If you are experiencing any shoulder pain or would like to work on preventing future shoulder issues, feel free to contact me and we can go over some options for you. 

Written by Dr. Jon Perry

1. Kolber, M. J., Beekhuizen, K. S., Cheng, M. S. S., & Hellman, M. A. (2010). Shoulder injuries attributed to resistance training: a brief review. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 24(6), 1696-1704.
2. Antony, N. T., & Keir, P. J. (2010). Effects of posture, movement and hand load on shoulder muscle activity. Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology, 20(2), 191-198.
3. Horsley, I., Herrington, L., Hoyle, R., Prescott, E., & Bellamy, N. (2016). Do changes in hand grip strength correlate with shoulder rotator cuff function?. Shoulder & elbow, 8(2), 124-129.
4. Robb, A., Weinberg, B. Athletic Movement Assessment Manual (Taken June 24-25, 2017).
Train Like an Athlete:
PAP Training for Sprinting and Jumping
     Often with general-population fitness enthusiasts, our goals are centered around looking good, moving better, and staying healthy. However, for those of us who enjoy a good Catalyst Challenge, play a sport, or get a little competitive with themselves, training focused on improving strength and power performance is paramount to long-term success in your athletic endeavors

PAP (or Post-Activation Potentiation)
  • combines strength and power training into one workout using specific percentages of your maximum strength in a given exercise, rest times just long enough to fully replenish your ability to be explosive, and an applicable power exercise to your given sport or activity
  • not for your beginner or novice gym goer
  • best and most safely utilized by someone who has experience training at high loads and high speeds.
Step 1: Heavy Movement
     PAP training starts with a “conditioning activity” as it’s referred to in the scientific literature. This does not refer to time on the rower or the ski erg, but an activity of significantly high loading to “condition” the body to be prepared for what is to come. This is typically a heavy compound movement such as a barbell squat, deadlift, or bench press (7).  Better performance is seen using heavier loads of up to 90% of your 1 repetition max for 1-3 reps (4). This is why PAP is only suited for advanced athletes and gym goers – you must be skilled and strong in order to benefit from PAP (11)(10).  It is best to pick a movement that applies to your chosen power activity for step 3. For example: A heavy squat paired with a jump, a deadlift paired with a sprint, or even a weighted pull-up paired with a short ski erg sprint. 
Step 2: Rest
     It’s really important to rest enough during PAP training. While you may not be breathing hard, your body goes through a period of fatigue and adaptation after your heavy set in step 1.  The general rule is the more volume (or number of reps) completed in step one, the more rest you get. Both upper and lower body rest times have been successfully tested at around 7-10min (11)(3), but very little difference is seen between 5-10-15-20min in terms of peak power output in step 3 (6).  My recommendation would be to take at least 5min rest, but if you are feeling fried there is no shame in resting longer if it means you work harder and perform better when step 3 comes (8)(9). 
Step 3: Power Movement
     The final selection is a power movement that applies to your sport (or Catalyst Challenge). If you play a field sport (soccer, football, ultimate frisbee) that requires you to intermittently sprint you may want to pick a 5-10m sprint as your power movement. 5-10m sprint times were improved in professional rugby players when they used 91% of their 1RM as their step 1 movement (1). If you play a court sport (basketball, volleyball, badminton) where you are required to jump high you may want to pick a counter-movement or vertical jump. A maximally loaded 3 rep back squat has been shown to significantly improve a vertical jump with individualized rest times (2).

     Once step 3 is completed, you should take another rest period of at least 5min to replenish your ability to perform at maximum intensity before returning to step 1. The ability to perform at maximum intensity is the most important factor to this training, and is the reason why the rest breaks feel so long. By training with this method you will increase your sprint speed, jump height, or whatever explosive activity you aim it at. Use your best judgment, train smart, and train safe when using tools of the caliber.  
Written By: 
Phil Tungate
Strength and Conditioning Specialist

How to Socialize Without Sabotage: 5 Ways to Stick to Your Goals When Eating Out

How to Socialize Without Sabotage
5 Ways to Stick to Your Goals When Eating Out

We’ve all been there. You’ve had a great week. Crushed all of your workouts. Meal prepped. Tracked your macros. Then the weekend rolls around. Or a birthday. Or an office party. Or the ice cream truck. Usually the choice seems to be either abstain or go all in. But what if you could stay on top of your goals and enjoy yourself at the same time?

Health and fitness goals should be thought of in a long-term, sustainable sense. If you are working out and eating healthy the majority of the time a few meals out should not deter your gains (or losses). Here are a few tips to help guide you next time you are out to dinner or in the mood to treat yourself:

#1) Plan Accordingly. If you know you are going to be in a situation where you can’t control the food being served be mindful of what you do with the remainder of your day: drink tons of water; reduce carb and sugar intake at all other meals; get a workout in; eat a snack BEFORE you go out (to prevent a starvation-induced binge scenario). I’d also suggest pre-booking a workout for the next morning. Not only will it guarantee that your next day starts on the right foot – it will also encourage you to go to bed at a reasonable time (i.e. less alcohol consumed / less chances of a late night snack / less calories ingested overall)

#2) Protein + Veg. A simple choice no matter where you are is to stick to protein and vegetables. You may not be in control of how the food is prepped or what types of oil things are cooked in but if you stick to a source of protein and fill up on veggies you are pretty much good to go. 

#3) Avoid Trigger Foods. For me it’s the bread basket. No chance am I having one “bite” of bread. And if I eat the bread I will probably also end up eating dessert. And I will DEFINITELY wake up the next day with a stomach ache. But if I can avoid the bread, odds are I will end up ordering something decently healthy as my main and ditch the dessert entirely. Whatever your trigger is: french fries, wine, carbs – avoid. 

#4) Pick Your Poison. As stated above: you don’t want to have the wine, the bread AND the dessert. But you also want to enjoy yourself. So pick one. Enjoy it. Move on.

#5) Leave the Guilt at the Door. Meals out should be enjoyed. You should never associate guilt with food. Trust that one meal will not derail a weeks worth of hard work. Make sure you SAVOUR every bite / sip / scoop and at your next meal get right back on track. Life is short. You can have your cake and your abs too.

Written By: Danielle Bossin Hardy 
Strength & Conditioning Specialist, Holistic Nutritionist 
Instagram: @deliciouslyfitdanielle

Available for appointments at Yorkville

Pain Science

Pain Science

Pain is not (always) a good predictor of injury or tissue damage.

Pain is our most important survival mechanism. It is obviously unpleasant but also lets us know if we are in danger. Without pain, we would probably live substantially shorter (though arguably more care-free) lives. However, when pain starts to last longer than we’d like and without a seemingly reasonable explanation, it can dramatically interfere with our lives; for some, it can mean permanent disability.

First, we need to clarify another important point about pain. Pain isn’t simple, it is a complex experience, it is a learned behavior, and does not always mean something is wrong at a tissue level. A lot of people would feel the term, ‘it’s all in your head’ to be a taboo and apathetic phrase, however it couldn’t be more true. The brain controls everything about your pain experience. It takes into account past experiences with pain, and your subconscious perception on how this current perceived threat may impact your life, along with many other variables to determine if you are in danger. If your brain believes you are in danger, it will relentlessly create the experience of pain.

One clue to help us understand that pain does not necessarily rely on tissue damage or injury, stems from amputees who experience phantom limb pain. These people feel pain in a place that no longer exists on their body. How else can we explain this except by understanding the brain’s role in interpreting and creating the experience of pain.

In those suffering from chronic pain, we see changes in the regions of the brain that represent the area of the body experiencing pain. The area of the brain actually becomes ‘smudged’, explaining how over time, it gets harder and harder to localize where the pain is coming from.

The pain cycle perpetuates as we continually believe we are in danger. As we start to worry about the pain, avoid movements that create the pain and start to avoid activities that bring on the pain, we essentially reactivate the alarm system that tells us we're in danger.

So what’s the take-home from all this? Pain is not simply a matter of, ‘I hurt myself, now I'm in pain.’ Pain is a complex experience that the brain orchestrates based on many factors and can be present with or without any actual harm. And just as a pain experience can be learned, it can be unlearned over time. Start to question your pain. Ask yourself, ‘am I in danger?’ One of the best ways to help answer that is to talk with a relevant health professional whom you trust.

To understand this further, 'Explain Pain' by Butler & Mosley is probably one of the most up-to-date and easy to understand explanations on this topic.

Written By: Dr. Ryan Albert, Chiropractor & Medical Acupuncture Practitioner
Instagram: @dr.ryanalbert

Available for appointments at our Richmond location

Barefoot Running

Origins of Barefoot Running

Barefoot running didn't really originate from anywhere in particular. It has been around for centuries, and is one of our original means of transportation. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors never had fresh Nikes to use when chasing animals for hunting or foraging through the forest! They had to rely on the strength and control of their own two feet to carry them across any type of terrain that they encountered. The advent of and widespread use of running shoes really began to take shape in the 1940s to 1960s as Adidas, Puma, and Nike took the running culture and made it their own. 
Aside from added protection and support, one of the main reasons for the invention of running shoes was to increase stride length. Naturally, when barefoot, we tend to run on our toes. Running shoes allow us to heel strike with every stride, providing the opportunity for a longer stride length and thus fewer times that our feet have to push off the ground during a race. The idea was that this would allow the runner to expend less energy during a race, since they are taking fewer strides.

Interestingly, the current research on both recreational and collegiate runners shows that there is not much of a difference in energy expenditure when running with running shoes and running barefoot. Some research has even indicated that barefoot running may require less energy in some situations, but I'll touch on this below. 

Try it yourself, next time you run, start off by running on your toes (even with your shoes on) and then switch to your normal running mechanics (which will most likely be heel striking in running shoes). See which one allows you to achieve a longer stride length more easily.

There are still some cultures in the world that rely solely on running barefoot. The Tarahumara, a group of indigenous people living in the mountains of Mexico, are widely considered some of the best long-distance runners in the world, competing in and winning some of the most grueling ultramarathons on the face of this earth, barefoot. Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall chronicles the Tarahumara and their ultramarathon successes, and is also one of the main reasons that sparked my interest to try barefoot running for myself. If any running junkies are looking for their next read, I would recommend Born to Run without a doubt.

Running footwear these days can be largely classified into three main categories; barefoot, minimalist, normal. Minimalist shoes are the in-between, where they offer very little heel lift and support compared to a normal running shoe, but still have a sole for you to run on. Studies have also shown that minimalist running shoes allow for very similar running mechanics as barefoot running, while still providing protection and some cushioning for your feet.
Benefits of Barefoot Running

  • Natural, free feeling. This may be a more personal opinion here, but I love the feeling of stepping out the door in the summer time with nothing but short shorts on (for those of you that know me, you know that short shorts are my norm) and going for a run.

  • Stride frequency is greater in barefoot running, and some research has shown that increasing stride frequency, and thus decreasing stride length leads to a reduction in running-induced knee pain.
  • A study on recreational distance runners found a greater running economy in those running barefoot when they were running at 85% of their VO2 max. This means that these athletes were using less energy when running barefoot, but only when they were running at a pretty fast pace.
  • Interestingly, some studies have also shown an increase in mental focus and brain stimulation extending beyond the runs themselves. The proposed relationship is due to the fact that when running barefoot, one must be more much more focused on the terrain that they are traversing, looking for potential hazards that can damage their unprotected feet.

Cons of Barefoot Running

  • Comfort level. For obvious reasons, running shoes may feel much more comfortable to run in compared to barefoot, especially depending on the surface that you are running on, and personal comfort can play an exceptional role in running performance.
  • Foot hazards, everywhere. As I mentioned above, you need to be even more focused on the task at hand when running barefoot, constantly scanning for any hazards on the ground that could cut or damage your feet. This is especially a greater danger in a city as populated as Toronto. By no means am I recommending going to run on the streets of Toronto barefoot. Consider trying out this running style on paved or dirt trails, where litter and foot traffic is greatly reduced.
  • Although barefoot running produces much lower impact on our bodies due to the shorter stride length, it comes with a trade off by increasing the stress on our ankle joints. This is due to the fact that we have now lost the ankle and foot support normally provided by our running shoes. 
That last point highlights how especially important it is to progressively and carefully transition to barefoot running, if it is something that you want to try.

Transitioning to Barefoot Running

Just like any new training program, you don’t want to jump into it cold turkey, without first priming and progressively adapting your body to the new stresses that it will soon be enduring. Our feet are used to being in shoes for the majority of our lives, and thus, the multitude of small foot muscles that are designed to support our foot are not developed enough to immediately begin working properly as we take away the support of our beloved running shoes. In Born to Run, the author Christopher McDougall gave a great analogy to help me further understand this point…
“Shoes are like casts for our feet. When you wear a cast on your leg for example, those leg muscles don’t get used for a while and undergo atrophy (become weaker/smaller). The same thing happens to our foot muscles. We do not need them when we have shoes on, because the shoes are doing the job to support our feet, so those muscles get weaker and smaller and aren’t cut out to support our bodyweight during a long-distance barefoot run, where our feet are constantly pounding into the surface in which we are running.”
This analogy brings me to my first main point for the transition to barefoot running…intrinsic foot strengthening exercises. The exercises below are designed to strengthen those small muscles that we will need to support us during barefoot runs as well as to reteach us to control the movement and stability of our feet and ankles. This is by no means an exhaustive list of possible exercises but are some of the more important ones that I have found through my research and trial and error on myself. The video links that I have added are explained very well and can help to clarify each of the below exercises.
  • Foot Doming 
    • Purpose: to strengthen the muscles that support our medial arch 
    • Avoid curling your toes when performing this exercise
    • Sets and Reps: 2 sets of 15-20 reps, holding each rep for 3-5 seconds.

  • Toe Curls
    • Purpose: strengthening the individual muscles that control the movement of our toes
    • Put a towel under the tips of your toes and work to curl that inwards towards your heel
    • Sets and Reps: 2 sets of 15-20 reps, holding each rep for 3-5 seconds.

  • Heel Raises (AKA Calf Raises)
    • Purpose: to strengthen the muscles surrounding the ankle joint, readying it for the added stress of running barefoot.
    • Once comfortable with this, switch to doing the heel raises one leg at a time.
    • Sets and Reps: 2 sets of 15-20 reps, holding each rep for 3-5 seconds.

  • Box Jumps/Drop Jumps
    • Purpose: to ready your feet and ankles for the impact of barefoot running, since there will be no shoes to absorb any of the force during the runs. Even though the impact of barefoot running is less than that of running with shoes, your feet are still not used to absorbing much impact, since the rubber soles of our shoes always do that job for us.
    • Start with a low box and increase the height of the box as you get more comfortable with the movement and impact.
    • Sets and Reps: 2 sets of 15 jumps.
Video Link:
I would begin performing those exercises for at least 2-3 weeks while still running in normal running shoes. It may be smart to then transition to running in a minimalist running shoe, while still performing the above exercises, before finally kicking off the shoes and hitting your first barefoot run. When you finally get to barefoot running, progression is still key. Don’t go crush a 10k for your first run. Start with 1km barefoot, then finish your run with shoes. Slowly work your distance up with each passing week. The key here, as mentioned above, is slow stepwise progression.

My Thoughts
As for which type of running you should do, there isn’t one type that is inherently better than the other. There are risks and rewards that come with each type of running, and it ultimately comes down to personal preference for which type of running you want to try. I am a very adventurous person, and I love being my own guinea pig when it comes to fitness related goals and techniques, hence why I became very keen to try barefoot running after reading Christopher McDougall’s book. Unfortunately, in Canada we only have a few short months to enjoy this new form of running, before the toes begin to freeze and the ground becomes even harder and more unforgiving. 
If transitioned to carefully and properly, barefoot running can be an exciting way to change up your training routine. Not to mention, strengthening your intrinsic foot muscles goes a lot further than just making you a stronger barefoot runner. Stronger arches, less incidence of plantar fasciitis and increased control and awareness of our feet are just some of the other benefits that can come from adding controlled movement into our feet and ankles outside of the confines of shoes.

Written By: Brad McGarr, Strength/ Conditioning Specialist
Instagram: @bradmcgarr

Available for appointments at our Yorkville location