The Fitness Fixer
The Fitness Fixer

Runner Fixes More Pain With Straighter Push-Off

Last year, reader Ted fixed back pain by learning to use neutral spine during running and daily life. This week he checked in to say the back is still fine, and that he went on to fix other painful sites.

Fixing pain and injuries by doing some exercises may temporarily ease symptoms. Instead, you can stop the source of injury by making movement habits healthy while exercising and moving through daily life, so that you can get exercise at the same time that the area can heal, and the pain not return.

Ted writes:

"Dr Bookspan, last summer, you helped me return to running, and did an article on me and how the neutral spine fixed my back problem with running.

"The back is a NON ISSUE. Thank you so much.

"Currently, I am working on hip/hammy/knee issues (probably due to over-training). Just thought I would share a thought on the ''Duck Foot'' issue you had talked about (I read the Fitness Fixer religiously). While running on the padded infield of the Stadium Football Field, I was still noticing pains in my hip (caught my foot on the ''upswing'' during a run, hip has hurt off and on since October).

"I focused on my feet, specifically, how I pushed off after the foot-strike (very soft, I often scare other runners because they can't hear me coming up on them). A straight push off after the foot-strike made the pain go away (probably because it aligned my foot/knee/hip during the movement). Also, when the knee pain flared, tensing my quads made it go away.

"I have enjoyed reading your ''Running Articles' please keep 'em coming.
Thank you for fixing my Back.
Much Appreciated,
Ted H"

"Ps. I got your new book (Health & Fitness THIRD edition). VERY good info, I'm trying to use it everyday."

To fix the source of pain, it works best to understand healthful movement retraining and not just "do" a series of rules. One important example is keeping feet parallel or facing forward. The idea is to understand that a straight push-off comes from keeping all the joints in the kinetic chain from feet to hip and spine from twisting in unhealthful ways, not just straighten one segment by twisting another. Yanking or forcing the feet straight is not the point of good positioning.

Ted has more helpful stories to come in future posts. Click these posts for more:

Photo supplied by Ted H
  • 1
Was this article helpful? Yes No

About the Author


Dr. Bookspan is an award-winning scientist whose goal is to make exercise easier and healthier.