Running Naturally

Never mentioned before today as I thought I’d be considered crazy. But after listening to Michael’s Sandler’s story I have the courage to tell my own. How can a runner still run after four back surgeries and five knee surgeries? How can someone with 22 screws, plates, rods, and artificial discs cover more than 50 miles a week? How can someone who at one time could not feel her leg, be running with a strong and efficient stride?

There is a four word answer to all these questions. That is “learn to run naturally”.


Run with a mid-foot striking pattern, shorten your stride and increase your cadence, stabilize your pelvis to limit rotation, relax your neck and shoulders, and run with a slight forward lean coming from the ankle.

What did I have to lose? I was starting over. I had to regain strength, balance, nerve function, and find the courage to trust my body again. I had a long road of strength training, gaining neuromuscular control, core strengthening, and increasing pelvic stability. All those are a challenge but finding courage was the greatest challenge. I had to learn to trust. Not easy for a controlling person who is also a perfectionist. At times I felt defeated but used that energy to help me in rehab.. I was told by loved ones that I would never be able to run again. However, my medical team held out on making such a strong statement and together we took it day by day.

Michael Sandler and his story only cemented further in my mind that it was possible to once again run without pain and fear. It would just take a little dedication to allowing the body to run as it was intended to do.

No one has put it as simply and as precisely as Michael Sandler in his book Barefoot Running. I am so grateful to have learned from his words of wisdom.

The second part of learning to run naturally is preparing your body to run naturally and efficiently. That does not mean you need new genes, a new body, and need to be brought up in Kenya. It simply means you need to take some time (20-30 minutes, a couple times a week) to strengthen muscle imbalances and increase proprioceptive strength and balance. You need to do some exercises for core strength which only helps running mechanics. To finish up, it greatly benefits runners to spend a few minutes using a foam roller.


A foam roller allows individuals to do a form of myofascial release to enhance recovery and injury prevention. Superficial fascia is a soft connective tissue located just below the skin. Together muscle and fascia make up the myofascial system. For various reasons (not stretching, injury, mechanics, etc.) the fascia and muscle tissue can become stuck together creating adhesions and resulting in restricted muscle movement and reduced range of motion. Using the foam roller you can roll out trigger points (adhesions) and help with lengthening and creating circulation in the tissue.

Performance Running Outfitters now offers Bare Essentials, a class designed for all runners and athletes (whether you are interested in naturally running or not). Whether you run in a stability shoe, a neutral shoe, or in a shoe designed to be minimal…this class is for you! We cover all the important components in helping you become a stronger and more efficient runner (with shoes or without). This awesome class is offered at our Shorewood and Brookfield locations for $5/class on Saturdays from 8:30-9:30AM during the months of Nov., Dec., Jan.. Classes are limited to the first 12 runners to call and register. Register today!   Call Performance Running Outfitters Shorewood at (414) 332-2786

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