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Improve your springs for running with Dr. Mark Cucuzzella

By May 10, 2019 No Comments

Dr. Mark Cucuzzella has been a competitive runner for 30 years. He has completed over 80 marathons and ultras, and continues to compete as a National level Masters runner. 22 of the years he ran a marathon under 2:35 and achieved this time in 4 decades. I have been following his impressive work for years and was very excited to record an episode for The Extramilest Show. Full episode will launch May 17.

Below is a 5 minute excerpt with full transcript and video links to the different exercises and drills. I have added several of these to my own routine as well. Enjoy!

Dr. Mark Cucuzzella: The things you all did as kids are the things that help the springs for running, jumping jacks (video link), plyometrics, burpees, curb hops, anything that works. I do a lot of single leg running (video link). At the end of almost every run I will just do it for a couple hundred meters, just one leg hop hop hop, other leg hop hop hop. A lot of skips, they are all on the Run For Your Life book website. (Flo: this is an amazing resource!!) The old track skips, I still do all these old track drills, A Drill, B Drill, C Drill, D Drill.

Sprinting really helps your springs for running

Not sprinting until you feel like you want to like puke. It’s like little 40 meters. This morning I ran on beautiful grass in my barefoot, I did 8 x 50 meters. By that 8th one, your strides open up, some great dynamic stretching. Hitting a lot of buttons, these short sprints. Gets your coordinations, opens your hips, little bit of strength training, works on your spring. We have some videos in there called Wake Up Your Springs and Lunge Matrix.

Your foot has to be in a good position so if your big toe is bent in and your foot is not functioning like a spring because it’s all messed up, you got to look at the foot too. So we will always assess people’s feet. When the feet are not good, get their feet in a good position.

Then progressively add some exercises. There’s all kinds of you them that you can do, you can make on your kitchen floor you can make a little square you know just kind of hop from one to the other. You have four little boxes there, almost like Hopscotch. Just try it, it’s really hard. I’m not talking about landing hard, land stick, land stick, I’m talking about pop – pop – pop – pop – really quick.

Things like that, start with two legs, then move to one leg. Running is a series of 1 leg hops.

Floris: “we have been jumping roping a lot outside with my kids and I heard you say it in your books too, so we’ll continue doing that”.

Dr. Mark Cuccuzella: yes jump roping is really good. Even in a hotel, non of this stuff takes a gym. I travel with a jump rope and a little resistance band, throw it in my bag and never know when and where you can use it.

The importance of your feet for running

The foot has 26 bones, 33 joints, a hundred muscle tendon insertions. It’s a neurologic organ basically. You have 200,000 nerve ending that send messages locally and centrally to control all your movement. 

Your foot has to be able to hit the ground well. As an adult (not a kid), you have 3 feet of shocks on your body. Which is mitigating by what your foot is telling. Going up, you have got your plantar fascia, got your ankle, your knee, your hip. All this functions as a big shock absorber, it is all activated by the foot and the springs for running work beautifully.

I just came back now or went out for about an hour and 20-minute Barefoot run (video) on the roads and get my feet used to it again. I went really slow because my feet were kinda like tender foot, because it’s spring. You’re in shoes all winter, because it’s cold right. But I love barefoot. You come back from a barefoot run and it’s crazy. I have never not felt like a million bucks coming back from a Barefoot run because everything’s kind of resets itself. Your body will tell you how fast or slow you should go, because if something is uncomfortable your body just adjusts and slows down.

As soon as you brace that foot or make some adaptions, like put an arch support in a race a hill you make an adoption in one part of the way the foot interfaces with the ground, then your body is going to compensate and make an adaptation somewhere else. That’s really against the human biology.

I think you have to unwind it and fix the biology so that’s what we try to do in our store. (video: “Fitting a Shoe Two Rivers Treads”). We try to get really focus the human posture, the way your back, hips and knees are aligned, then you’re looking at a screen and texting.

dr mark cucuzella outside the first minimalist running footwear store he owns Two Rivers Treads

I’m at a stand-up desk now. Everyone these days is in these zoo human positions, Houma domesticus, then they want to go run for 30 minutes. There’s just a study last week showing the amount of time humans are sitting is increasing. That’s what I write about in the book. If you’re sitting 12 hours a day and you think that you can do a couple foam rolling exercises and go run 30 minutes and you think you can do that wonderfully well without getting hurt, I think it’s the rest of the day that is very important.

Just be more of an ancestral human nothing weird or Palio about it just you know: stand up, move more and lift heavy things. Do lunges, do things to open up your hips, just walk more, do calisthenics, plyometrics, skips, jumps, all help your springs for running. All the things that we did as kids on playground just recreate that into your day.

Full podcast episode of The Extramilest Show will launch May 17.

Find more about Dr. Mark Cucuzzella here:

You can find me, Floris Gierman here:

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