Still recommend “Proprioceptive cues”?

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    Are the “Proprioceptive Cues” discussed in chapter 5 of Brain Training for Runners still recommended? Or should they be ignored?

    Proprioceptive Cues are “images and other sensory cues that enable you to modify your running stride for the better as you think about them while running.“

    For example, imagining that you’re running on water and you need to move your feet quickly and forcefully to stay afloat, like skipping a stone.

    Other examples:

    But in the years since that book was written, Matt is a frequent advocate for NOT intentionally changing your running stride. And in the link below (3rd paragraph from the bottom) he explicitly mentioned chapter 5 of Brain Training for Runners as the worst advice he’s ever given. It could be argued that this “worst advice” was in reference to the entirety of chapter 5 including the Proprioceptive Cues, or just parts of the discussion and that Proprioceptive Cues are still valid and reasonable (after all, technique drills such as high knees are discussed in that chapter and still widely recommended…we shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bath water.)


    Matt Fitzgerald

    For the most part they should be ignored. The exceptions are 1) when you’re running hard in a state of high fatigue, in which case selective use of proprioceptive cues can help you stay relaxed and focused and 2) when you suffer recurrent injuries related to a particular aspect of your form, in which case selective use of proprioceptive cues can help you modify your form in a way that reduces injury risk.



    You are not getting my copy of Brain Fitness back!

    I understand what you are saying, but I did test the cues and found them useful. On a curved manual treadmill you can sense immediate feedback by the way you position your body and move through space. Some of it translated to performance, but more importantly the cues do improve balance and safety.

    For aging runners such as myself proprioception rapidly declines, and a leading cause for injury in the elderly. Any kind of training we can do to preserve or improve the comfort and safety of the sport should be of the highest priority.

    The variety of training workouts, strength, and mobility do contribute to proprioception. Perhaps you team could gather specific exercises and plans for those of us that have been patiently waiting for a lifestyle plan :-).



    While looking for literature around causes of lower-back pain I found myself heading down the barefoot running rabbit-hole. When I first started running about 20 years ago in my early 40s I was frequently injured and ended up with trochanteric bursitis which persisted for a long time. After GP visits, physios, and ultimately a podiatrist, I started wearing customised orthotics to correct different leg length and over-pronation. I wore them for around 10 years and did Comrades in them twice.

    Orthotics, like most things, attract differing and often contrarian views, and a few years ago I gradually stopped using them. I’ve read Daniel Lieberman’s “Exercised” and tried to listen to the allegedly brilliant Born to Run, which is to me, what The Matrix is to Matt. (I also gave up less than half-way through BTR despite fast-forwarding to see if there’d be anything interesting about barefoot running.)

    Anyway, I decided to explore minimalist running shoes.

    The evidence seems mixed but I quite like the idea of not having a 1970s style platform on my running shoes (LOOK AT MY HOKAS!!) and they’re quite cheap too. I’m avoiding the classic mistake of going from cushioned to nothing and have a few pairs on the go of varying support.

    If you’re still reading, you’re probably wondering, what’s my point? To get back to proprioceptive cues.

    I’m not a highly motivated runner and envy people who are. But a strange thing is happening when I’m out on the roads and trails in minimalist zero-drop footwear. I’m noticing more, feeling more, and, sometimes, and more often than I used to, I find myself actually ENJOYING running. I’m concentrating more on comfort, running economy, foot-strike and cadence, and feel like my running is more natural. It seems to me that in more conventional shoes your foot is effectively immobilised in a firm structure and none of the muscles and tendons in your feet are really bringing much to the party. I should really have a look at my cadence and see if it’s changed since adjusting my footwear.

    So 10 years ago I never ran without customised orthotics. Now I’m running in minimalist zero-drop shoes. And scientific evidence or lack of aside, I’m finding it a far more pleasurable and motivating experience.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 1 month ago by dougie.
    • This reply was modified 1 year, 1 month ago by dougie.
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