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Coaches Corner: Plasticity – Using the TrueForm as an Environment To Elicit Changes in Running Gait

I used to think of a coach as someone who always used verbal instruction to create change in behavior, and I believe that comes from growing up playing team sports and having coaches verbally instruct during games and practices. However, now I understand that verbal instruction is just the educational piece of athletic coaching. It is the conversation between teacher and student, and if done well, the student learns a lesson conceptually and uses the learned concept as a gauge during performance. In this aspect of coaching, the coach has created a mental change in the student, which in my opinion is the best use of verbal instruction. Outside of education, verbal instruction should be limited. So if verbal instruction is educational at best, how do coaches create physical change in their athletes? I believe the answer is by creating physical environments that require the desired physical behavior from the students. It is student’s own interaction with the environment that stimulates the physical change desired by the coach. A good coach can create this environment, trust it, and keep his or her mouth shut with little or no verbal instruction while the students adapt on their own. This aspect of coaching hinges on the process of plasticity.
Plasticity – n – the quality of being easily shaped or molded.
Biological definition – the adaptability of an organism to changes in its environment or differences between its various habitats.
No population is more plastic than youth, as they are in the midst of the most rapid phase of their physical development. If we could remove all the environmental stresses that inhibit or negatively alter the natural function of their body (chairs, cellphones, stiff – narrow – overly cushioned shoes, refined – processed foods, etc) there would be little to no need to talk to them about running technique. Efficient biomechanical and physiological running technique is within our DNA, as it is a natural gait pattern learned without instruction. But alas, in this day and age there is a plethora of environmental aspects and lifestyle choices that inhibit or alter their innate function to run efficiently.
Coaches and trainers can still win the day though by forming a plan that will help them undo the muscle imbalances, and subsequent inefficient motor patterns, and return them to a state of natural function in which they can continue to flourish on their own. And I am happy to say, there is one such environment that is already created for coaches to use, and that is the TrueForm Runner. And it is no surprise to me that I am seeing such success by coaches and trainers who are already using the TrueForm Runner as the environment in which the majority of the running is accomplished (versus the road/track)because it naturally elicits the biomechanical and physiological responses needed to create more efficient preferred movement patterns due to increases in strength and endurance. Yes, the TrueForm can be (and should be) used as an ancillary tool for learning elements of running technique, but I think the more powerful use of the TrueForm is making it the preferred environment for running. After being taught the motions of technique, the elements of good running form will naturally emerge as the relative strength and endurance is acquired over time by adapting to the TrueForm.
Let’s take everything I just spit out above and apply it a recently shared video from one of our clients.