Jun 15, 2018
Today’s interview is with Max Paquette, who specializes in
biomechanics and is considered an expert in running shoes. We move
back to a more scientific look at running with this episode,
because I know many many runners have an interest in how their
biomechanics influences their racing and running.
His interest started off in high school doing a project where he
video taped runners. He quickly admits he knew nothing, and thinks
that even with the more he studies the less he thinks we know about
what makes us have good running form. We discuss the reality of the
amount of information that is out there and how best to separate
what is good and bad information. Max provides the names of several
resources he thinks are the best to consult based on their
Our discussion today covers popular and controversial topics
such as over-pronation, cadence, forefoot vs mid-foot vs heel
striking and the impact on running injuries. We then go on to
discuss whether running is bad for your knees and causes arthritis.
We go over the research on whether the shoe type really matters in
We then spend some time on the last myth of biomechanics -
whether strength training really make a difference?
Lastly we discuss the importance of tools for runners.
Ultimately the best tool for runners is to learn to run by feel not
by Garmin. Having a better perception of what your body is feeling
is far more important.
Dr. Max Paquette has a PhD in biomechanics and is an Assistant
Professor at the University of Memphis. His focus is on the effects
of exercise interventions and gait modifications on joint
mechanics, function and quality of life in aging and knee
osteoarthritis populations. He is also interested in the effects of
different footwear, fatigue, foot strike patterns and training
interventions in runners on injury and performance. He resides in Memphis with
his wife Lauren and two dogs.
What you will learn about:
- How he thinks Alex Hutchinson is one of the experts we should
pay attention to, because he does great research into his topics
and is a great writer who disseminates . Others he believes do a
great job of disseminating complicated information are Tom Goom
(Twitter @tomgoom), Rich Willy (twitter @rwilly2003), JF Esculier
at University of British Columbia (Twitter @JFEsculier), and Irene
- We discuss how over-pronation used to be thought of as the
cause of lower leg injuries, but how his research has found that it
doesn’t drive injuries. How quickly the vertical ground reaction
force is transferred (impact of the ground into your foot) is also
not linked to injury. What is more predictive is how quickly you
add load vs more gradual increases.
- We talk about how we rarely study those rare specimens that
don’t get hurt, we study the hurt runners. We need to shift the
focus to why some don’t get hurt.
- The lower limbs are the most likely to first be injured, then
higher up the chain. The external loads are applied to the foot
first, then up the chain. But if those parts of the body are
conditioned to adapt to that force, the risk of injury goes down.
Up the chain, especially in females, there are other nutritional
and hormonal issues that impact bone health, and folks like Trent
Stellingwerff and Adam Tenford (Harvard) have done more work on
female athletes and bone issues.
- Chris Napier (@runnerphysio) is doing some interesting work on
over-striding/step length, cadence and step length/reach (how far
ahead of your pelvis) impact injury risk. It is physically
impossible to precisely land under your hips, you are always
hitting a bit ahead which is important to store elastic energy. But
it isn’t clear how much is too much. There are different
permutation on how you run that impact the loads and it is not
simple to determine which one is most critical.
- Rich Willy and John Wilson’s gait retraining studies have shown
that increasing cadence (steps per minute) seems to work well at
lessening injury if you find you are over-reaching and if you are
suffering from lower leg issues. But if you are not getting injured
perhaps you are not really overstriding.
- Osteoarthritic issues: Lack of exercise is far worse than
using the joints. The evidence is becoming really strong that
running is not bad for your knees, and may actually be helpful with
preventing the onset of the disease. Recent research is showing
that even with those that have OA, some running may well be better
than being sedentary. (did he send you info for the show
- Footwear for runners: The main conclusion of his study in
2009-2013, which was males only and highly trained runners, was the
only time that the shoe mattered was in heal strikers that ran
barefoot or in minimalist shoes. Forefoot strikers it just didn’t
matter. But we didn’t study long term effects. Irene Davis then
studied untrained runners of both sexes and concluded that it
mattered more in the types of shoes people were used to running in.
So if they were used to running barefoot or in minimalist shoes
there was not an issue. If you are going to change shoes, you
should have a good reason to change and have tried other methods
first to reduce injury, not just because there is some cool new
shoe. Proper training and progression come first. Ultimately it all
seems to come out even in the end, no shoe ultimately matters.
Benno Nigg, Univ of Calgary, has found in his research that shoes
and inserts don’t matter. Rotating shoes (any shoes), surfaces and
routes may be much more critical to injury prevention.
- Coaching his wife Lauren really showed the value of strength
training in injury prevention.
- Learn to listen to how you feel not vs what your watch or heart
rate monitor is telling you. If you body is saying it is too hard,
then for that day it is too hard. Tomorrow it may not be as hard,
each day is different.
The more we learn the less we find we really know about
In the end it all comes down to the strength of your body.
If you are strong you can undertake more training.
Last week's episode with Courtney Dauwater
Running for Real Superstars Community
Podcast interviews with:
Max on Instagram
Max on Twitter
Max' Coaching website
Buy a Running for Real T-shirt, Tank, or Hat
Experts Max recommended:
JF Esculier at University of British Columbia
Thank you to BodyHealth for sponsoring this episode of Running
Now I am back to training, guess what was the first thing I did
to start making sure I recover quicker (as coming back to fitness
really beats your body up!), yep, you guessed it, BodyHealth
Perfect Amino! Get 10% off at Bodyhealth.com using coupon code