Should You Change Your Gait? Can You?

 

– The MOVEMENT Movement with Steven Sashen Episode 127 with Richard Diaz

 

Richard “Coach” Diaz is often referred to as “the guy,” simply because it’s hard to encapsulate his many talents under one title. His experience and unparalleled diversity as a coach / clinician in endurance sport traces back nearly 40 years having conducted performance assessments for literally thousands of athletes from elite professionals to homemakers, is what defines him as the coach he is today. His focus is running mechanics and bioenergetics, which he believes are critical components of success in athletic performance.

 

His decision to dedicate his life’s work to the sport of Obstacle Course Racing quickly drew international recognition. Coach Diaz has traveled extensively all over the United States, putting on his highly acclaimed running clinics, turning mediocre athletes into Elite Competitors. His practice, Diaz Human Performance, is now based in Franklin Tennessee where he operates his “secret lab,” which many professional and recreational athletes regularly visit.

 

Listen to this episode of The MOVEMENT Movement with Richard Diaz about if you should change your gait.

 

Here are some of the beneficial topics covered on this week’s show:

– How most people think they know how to run when they might not.

– Why using evidence-based knowledge trumps anecdotal evidence.

– How there are genetics involved that help decide whether you are a fast runner.

– Why you don’t need to have good form to win a spring or a marathon.

– How putting your posture in the right space will yield astounding performances.

Connect with Richard:

Guest Contact Info

Instagram
@diazhp

Facebook
facebook.com/diazhumanperformance

 

Links Mentioned:
diazhumanperformance.com

 

Connect with Steven:

Website

Xeroshoes.com

Jointhemovementmovement.com

Twitter
@XeroShoes

Instagram
@xeroshoes

Facebook
facebook.com/xeroshoes

Steven Sashen:

There are some of us in the natural movement world who say that it’s not about the footwear, it’s about the form, and we’re going to help you adjust your form to something more natural. Then there are people who are well-known in the industry, a researcher named Benno Nigg, for example, who says you don’t want to alter your form, because if you do that, you’re going to get injured. So what’s the truth behind that? What’s going on in this whole thing about form, and altering it, and what’s appropriate, and what’s not?

 

We’re going to investigate that today on the episode of The MOVEMENT Movement, the podcast for people who want to know the truth about what it takes to have a happy, healthy, strong body, usually starting feet first, because you know those things are your foundation. And you probably know if you’ve listened to us before, we’re breaking down the mythology, the propaganda, sometimes the outright lies that people have told you about what it takes to run, walk, hike, do CrossFit, yoga, whatever it is you like to do, and to do that enjoyably and efficiently and effectively.

 

And did I say enjoyably? I know I did. It’s a trick question. Because look, if you’re not having fun, do something different till you are. You won’t keep it up if you’re not having a good time anyway. I am Steven Sashen from xeroshoes.com, your host of the podcast. We call it The MOVEMENT Movement because we are creating a movement. Don’t worry, not a cult. Maybe. And doesn’t take much for you to be involved. All you have to do is share, and I’ll tell you how you can do that. It’s really, really easy. And it’s about natural movement, letting your body do what bodies are supposed to do without getting in the way necessarily. If you want to find out more, go to www.jointhemovementmovement.com.

 

You don’t need to do anything to join, but you can find the previous episodes, subscribe to hear about new podcasts, find out all the places you can find us on YouTube, on Facebook, on Instagram, where you can like and share and give us a thumbs up and ring the bell on YouTube. You know what to do. In short, if you want to be part of the tribe, please subscribe. So let’s get started. Richard Diaz, it is a pleasure to have you here. Do me a favor, tell us humans who you are and what you do?

Richard Diaz:

Wow. That’s interesting because when I have dinner with some people that I’ve just met and they ask me what I do, I have to pause because I’m not sure how to explain it. I’d like to think that I’m kind of a human mechanic.

Steven Sashen:

Wait, a mechanic of humans, or just a human type of mechanic?

Richard Diaz:

A mechanic for humans. How’s that?

Steven Sashen:

Okay. I like it.

Richard Diaz:

And so, the reason that I would suggest that is because there’s nothing that I would refer to as a niche that I am. People want to put me in a box often. They want to refer to me as the running guy, the running coach, and I almost take exception to that because there’s a lot of things that I do that are not exclusive to running, but I do a lot of work in the running industry. I travel around the country doing clinics. Matter of fact, I’m doing a clinic in Connecticut next week. Just did a clinic in Jacksonville, Florida last month. Going to do another one here in Tennessee in July. So I’ll spend about eight or 10 trips around the country during the year, and then a lot of clinics I’ll do locally.

 

And the clinics are really geared for people that are frustrated with the way they’re training, because I work in a space with a lot of runners, and more specifically these days with obstacle course racing athletes, and they’re very bullish, meaning that they take on things very aggressively, sometimes in over their head and end up getting injured, and so I think the largest audience of people that I deal with are frustrated, they’re just tired of hurting themselves. And I have a podcast that I put together, has probably been about nine years ago now, which is The Natural Running Network, and there’s so many things that come to mind right now because I’ve never met with you, and I saw your shoes. Can I just kind of just get right into it?

Steven Sashen:

Let’s do it, baby.

Richard Diaz:

I saw your shoes. And when people come to see me, it always comes out. Matter of fact, they might bring me four or five pairs of shoes they have and they’re saying, “Well, which pair of shoes should I wear? Because I’m doing V02 max testing, gait analysis, things like this, and I’m going to teach people what I believe is the proper way to run, and already there are people that’ll take exception to that concept.

Steven Sashen:

Yes, they will. Now there are people who will also say, I know how to run. I’m a human being. I have legs. You don’t need to teach me how to run.

Richard Diaz:

Right. Well, until they hurt themselves.

Steven Sashen:

Right. Well, they often still think it. They often still think, I know how, but somehow, I got hurt.

Richard Diaz:

Yeah. Right. Well, again, this is my day job, and over the past 10 years now that I’ve put clinics on around the country, and I’ve met so many people, and my MO is, I’ll show up, it’s a weekend thing, I’ve never met these people before, and in the course of that weekend, I have to impart all this information, and it’s always interesting for me waiting for the person that’s going to have a problem with what I say, and whether I’m going to get some rejection or some pushback based on the concepts that I share with people. And what I try to tell people is I’m an evidence-based guy. I need to believe it, and personally, I need to believe in what I speak of, and I need to be able to go into a room with conviction, not because someone told me that this is the way to do something, but evidence has shown me over time and years and years that there’s a way to do things, and there are many, many ways not to do things.

 

So, getting back to your shoes and the question people will oppose to me about what type of shoes should I wear, and I’m very reluctant to point to a brand, and so here’s where you come in. I recall some of the first shoes that came about that were even the term zero drop shoes and the concept of a broader toe box, so those toes can splay, and all these little things that checked the boxes for me. And then I think somewhere along the way, the board members, the shareholders get together and they see a competitive brand that’s just their stock is skyrocketing because they came out with a new gimmick that’s really “working.”

Steven Sashen:

I’m putting air quotes around working. Selling. Let’s say selling.

Richard Diaz:

Well, that’s what I mean. Yeah. So they’re selling a lot of problems. And I can almost imagine being in the room, and the pressure coming. Regardless of what your theories are about what you should wear and why, we know we’re in the business to sell shoes, and if we’re not selling shoes, then what are we doing here? I can almost hear that conversation. And they’re saying, well, look, let’s add to our quiver a shoe with a stack height that’s double, triple what we used to. We’re going to still hang onto the same concept of a zero drop, but we’re going to put the cushion under there to placate the people that feel like they need to have a lot of cushion in order to be safe, or because they’ve been injuring themselves, they want to land on something softer.

 

And this is something that does not work with me, because I know that cushioning is not the solution, I know that improper running mechanics can very many times be at fault, and just changing it. I’m familiar with Benno Nigg, and I’ve paid attention to a lot of his work, and the thing that Benno Nigg had said is he’s never seen any alteration in a shoe that would make a difference as a result of injuries.

Steven Sashen:

I’ll interrupt you on that one. So there’s a group of us who we’ve gotten together and call ourself the Healthy Feet Alliance. So we’re trying to basically create a kind of umbrella/lobbying arm for people who believe in natural movement. And I was on a panel discussion at the American College of Sports Medicine a couple years ago, me, Tony Post from Topo Athletic, formally from FiveFingers, he was to see you there, and then a guy from Brooks and a guy from Adidas, and the Brooks and Adi guys both quoted Benno saying everyone has a unique movement pattern that is basically impossible to change. And so the first thing that I said to him was, “Is that accurate? Are you actually telling me that if someone is wearing those shoes and they switch to zero shoes, their gait isn’t going to change?”

 

He goes, “No, no. No, absolutely. I’m saying two things. It’s very difficult for you to change something when you’re switching to basically the same shoe, and all those shoes are the same, and more importantly, you don’t want to make an arbitrary change to your gait because that’s going to lead to an injury.” And where that theory came from was his N=1 sample of himself. And so, I chose not to get into an argument about that, but he will concede that if you’re going from a “traditional” running shoe to something truly minimalist or bare feet, undeniably things change, but that’s not how his research and what he said has been taken and bastardized by the companies making big, thick padded shoes.

Richard Diaz:

I’m an evidence-based guy. I watched the cause and effect relationship with people that make change, and the changes could be a change to the type of shoe they’re wearing, a change to the volume of running that they’re doing and, or change their gait pattern. And the biggest problem that I’ve seen is where someone that, for example, may be putting in 50 miles a week, alters their gait, but doesn’t alter their volume and, or makes a massive change in the style of shoe that they’re wearing.

Steven Sashen:

And doesn’t change the volume.

Richard Diaz:

And doesn’t change the volume. And so as a heel striker, if you carry that gait pattern into a zero drop minimal shoe, you’re asking for trouble.

Steven Sashen:

The way the whole “barefoot movement” evolved was in large part when the FiveFingers came out and people literally did think, all I need to do is switch to these shoes and I’ll be fine. And I said to Tony Post 11 years ago, “You’re dropping the ball on the education necessary to have people transition effectively.” And his response was something along the lines of, “Yeah. It’s because things are moving so fast, we just can’t get people to tell the story correctly.” And they tried to mitigate that with a transition program that was much too aggressive and too cut and paste, instead of individually-based, and so that was sort of the number one thing.

 

But the other one that had happened at that same time was people got the idea, oh, you’re supposed to land on the ball of your foot. And the first time I saw this, literally I was running with someone trying to show her how to run in the sandals we were making back then, and I saw her do something that I had to stop because I was so stunned. And she was still overstriding, still reaching out with her foot way too far in front of her, and then just pointed her toes to land on the ball of her foot. And in fact, at the University of Colorado where they did studies trying to prove that barefoot is bullshit, they had a picture from the Colorado alumni magazine or something showing a runner doing that same thing, overstriding, pointing their toes.

 

So that misunderstanding about where you’re supposed to land on your foot also led to that same kind of injuries, because even if they weren’t heel striking, if they’re just landing on the ball of their foot way out in front of their body, that’s not what feet are designed to do. So either keeping the volume and just making the switch, or making that one, to your point, gait change based on erroneous information about what you’re supposed to be doing was the other one that I saw over and over and over.

Richard Diaz:

Right. And so, you change the dynamic, you change the stress patterns from the posterior chain to the anterior chain, and so you start having metatarsal stress syndrome, I see a lot of that, Morton’s neuroma, all that stress because, I call it toe diving, coming into it too sharply, and you cause problems. So you were talking about 11 years ago and Post with Topo, I first got introduced to the concept of a shoe that was designed to be forefoot with Newton.

Steven Sashen:

So, I’m going to have to interrupt you there too. So here’s the joke about that. Actually, it’s so funny. I met with someone who was, let’s just say one of the first 10 employees at Newton. And because I’m in Boulder, right outside of Boulder, I know all those guys. The idea with the Newton shoe originally was, can we create something that has greater energy return, which is a made up term of course as well. There’s no such thing as energy return. Anything that’s cushioning sucks energy, end of story.

 

And then they came up with this little trampoline idea to put these little trampolines in the ball of your foot, which there’s some interesting things about that too, but the thing that was so funny with that product was while they’re pitching the idea of, let’s call it natural form running for the fun of it, and then they’re claiming that that shoe led people to do it, or engendered that, back to your point about being evidence-based, there was zero evidence for that whatsoever. And all you had to do is watch people running in that shoe, and no one changed their gait in that shoe if they were heel striking.

Richard Diaz:

So, what I was going to share with you is, I was in Boulder with Danny Abshire. If you don’t drop a name, I’ll drop it for you.

Steven Sashen:

Danny’s an old friend.

Richard Diaz:

Well, there was a whole panel of people that were gathered to discuss the nuances of natural running, and they were trying to cause this revolution, or they called the revolution of running, and I was part of that for the early days. And Danny Abshire had come out and done some work with me in California. And this is just in the birth of doing the clinics that I started doing. Danny was kind of there with me on this. Again, the evidence was that people that would buy these shoes with the promise of becoming a natural runner and still running on their heels and never really touching the little piano keys in the front of the shoe, they were still heel striking.

 

And I used to tell people, if you really want a pair of those shoes, get the secondhand pair from the running shoes shop, because they’re selling them for 25 bucks, and they were the returns. They had massive returns because people were hurting themselves. Yeah. And I would see people almost sawing off the heel of the shoe, and never actually getting onto the bridge that was designed to let you know that you’re in the right spot, basically what they were selling.

Steven Sashen:

Well, even with that, I mean, speaking as a sprinter. So, when they had their first public event here in Boulder, I put the shoes on and just ran up Broadway and back down Broadway, and the thing with those little trampoline piano key pods in the forefoot is like anything that’s supposed to be springy. And I keep saying, people just need to understand physics better, is it’s going to be tuned to a particular weight and speed. If you’re not that weight and running at that speed, it’s going to get in the way. And what I felt when I ran in it, it was just too squishy. It’s like I’d land, and it was slowing down my ground contact time. I felt like I was just having to bounce to be able to run, and it just was not tuned for the way someone who was a natural forefoot landing sprinter ran. And they were really confused by that, I remember.

Richard Diaz:

There were some interesting conversations we had. Mark Cucuzzella was there, Irene Davis was there. Man, it was an all-star cast of people. Jada Sherry was there, yep. So getting in the mix with these guys and listening to what they had to say about traditional running patterns and the mistakes that we made with shoe design, I kind of got entrenched in all that and I started to develop my own theories about how you might approach change in the way you’re going to run. And so you dropped the bomb when you said people don’t understand physics, and it really comes to be a function of where are you putting the load, how stable are you when you make contact with the earth, how much feedback you’re going to get so that you can find stability quicker, and all of these little nuances that people aren’t thinking about or they want admire their work by overstriding to see that, in fact, they’re on the front of their foot, in which case they’re causing new problems. And you’re going to have to forgive me, because I’m an old guy, and if it comes in my brain, it comes out my mouth.

Steven Sashen:

Hold on, wait. How old are you?

Richard Diaz:

I’ll be 70 this year.

Steven Sashen:

Oh, nice. I’m turning 60 in a couple months, so all right. And FYI, I have that same neurological problem where once it’s in my brain, it comes out of my face, so we’re in good company.

Richard Diaz:

Okay. So here’s the thing, the shoe that you’re producing checked my boxes. And prior to you sending those shoes to me, I’d never wore the shoe. I have a couple of clients that were wearing them. And incidentally, these were older women, one of them 76 years old. I coached her through six marathons, and she never ran until she was 66.

Steven Sashen:

Oh, I love it.

Richard Diaz:

And she’s wearing your shoe. And then I have another girl that trains with her, older woman, she’s got to be getting close to 60 herself. And she’s clinically obese, so how much she weighs, I mean, it sure factors into this, but she runs well, which allows her to run in your shoe. And as a matter of fact, she prefers to run in that shoe because all of the things that I’ve taught her are coming to fruition. You have to appreciate this woman, and if you could visualize this, she’s about four foot nine, and I think she weighs about 170 pounds, and Asian, and used to complain a lot about soreness, my quads are sore, my this or that, and I used to say, take a day off, take a day off, and then one day I said, “You know what? Just for fun, let’s go the other way. We’ve been backing off, let’s accelerate.” I said, “I want you to run a 100 miles next week.”

 

And she laughed about it, and we were running together, and I said, “Well, here’s how you’re going to do it.” And we started talking about how we’re going to get the volume over the course of the week. So she was at about 25 miles that week, the very next week she did 66 miles, the week after that, she ran 115 miles and was no worse for wear. So the soreness that she normally would complain about in her legs or whatever, that didn’t go away, but it didn’t get worse, and she didn’t run into any orthopedic issues because she put on that massive volume quickly, because she learned to put her weight on the ground properly and she was able to take the weight.

 

So those two women wearing these shoes prompted me to consider looking at your shoe. And so when people ask me, well, what kind of shoe should I buy, Richard? I don’t want give them a brand, because I can’t trust the brands. You already mentioned Topo, we were talking about Altra, these guys early days were making a decent shoe. And so the comments I would make to people is that, I want you to find a shoe that’s going to protect your foot, but it’s not going to get in the way, it’s not going to impede natural functionality. So we want to limit that influence from the shoe, and we want to protect ourselves. That’s it.

Steven Sashen:

Do you remember what Phil Maffetone used to say for advice about buying shoes?

Richard Diaz:

Yes.

Steven Sashen:

Was it go to Walmart, and get the cheapest you can find?

Richard Diaz:

You know what? It’s funny you bring him up because Phil Maffetone and I did a clinic together in Las Vegas, it’s probably been about 25, 30 years ago now. Again, I told you I’m an old man. I was there on the behest of a heart rate monitor manufacturer, and Phil was there because he was friends with the owner of this chain of health clubs. Matt, by the way, Las Vegas Athletic Clubs, they have four clubs and there must be 400,000 members. It’s a huge, huge business. I think their cookie cutter club is 90,000 square feet on average.

Steven Sashen:

Wow.

Richard Diaz:

Yeah. So we were supposed to do a thing for all their personal trainers, and I think collectively, they probably had about 50 personal trainers that worked for the company. And so I never met Phil, and he came in, and he was kind of the featured guest, and he was going on and on about a lot of different things. And he was ranting, and I was literally trying to fall asleep. And try to appreciate, this is 30 years ago, and my interest in him was all the things that he had to say about heart rate and the whole 180 minus your age thing that he was all about. And I’m a clinician. I’ve been doing VO2 max tests on athletes for 25 years, and so my curiosity was to see whether his predictions were accurate. And I literally did V02 max tests with him standing next to me on all the people that he was chatting with and I said, “You got one, missed it, got one, missed it.”

 

And coming away from it, I said, you know what? I think the guy’s a lunatic. And he was talking about these very minimalistic shoes and had some old woman that he brought out that she was going to run a marathon in this. I forgot what kind of a shoe it was, but it was years ago, so it wasn’t anything that is of the new standards I should say, but very, very minimalistic. And I looked at him, I said, “This guy’s going to kill this woman.” And it’s funny because I reached out to him and did a podcast with him 20 years later.

 

Well, I was doing podcasts, so it was in the past six or seven years I did this podcast with him. And I got him on, and I said, “The reason I brought you on was to apologize to you.” I said, “Because I said so much bad shit about you over the years.” And I said, “It turns out that a lot of the things you were talking about turned out to be true, and I was wrong.” And I said, “I literally am calling you out to apologize to you.” And we had a good laugh.

Steven Sashen:

My first conversation with Phil, I said, “I think I got one of your books in 1980 something or other, and I’m curious if you feel vindicated or if you feel mad that it took so long for people to catch up?” He goes, “That one.”

Richard Diaz:

Well, so look, I must tell you, I don’t agree with a lot of the things he says. And given that I’ve been doing V02 max tests on athletes for 25 years.

Steven Sashen:

I got to clarify that. I wasn’t talking about the V02 max part, because as a sprinter, I don’t give a shit about V02 max. It was just on the footwear and gait part.

Richard Diaz:

Oh yeah. And I have to tell you, that’s pretty much what I apologized for. And you even shared that, of being able to ultimately run faster by running slower, I don’t buy. Because his claim to fame was Mark Allen and the work he did with Mark Allen in suggesting that having him slowdown is what turned him into this five-minute miler. And I must be honest with you, I’ve been coaching athletes for all this time, and I do believe developing the aerobic system is important, but I also believe developing the anaerobic system is equally important.

Steven Sashen:

Equally important. Well, I was going to say, this is the difference between what Phil is doing and what Arthur Lydiard did. And I’m friends with a couple of his athletes, Lorraine Mueller who lives here in Boulder, who is just a total sweetheart. And their thing is, yeah, it’s doing the slow stuff just to build an aerobic base, and then Arthur had people doing lots of anaerobic stuff. They did a lot of hill running, they did a lot of speed work, and they had to because he was coaching everyone basically the same from 800 meter runners to marathoners, and the only way you can do that is by hitting the whole gamut of training.

Richard Diaz:

Yeah. So you’ve got to read my book.

Steven Sashen:

I look forward to it.

Richard Diaz:

You got to read to my book, because I talk about Lydiard, and I talk about the concepts of building a base, and I come to a place with what I’ve learned over the years that I take exception to it.

Steven Sashen:

How so?

Richard Diaz:

Well, because the way the body develops, muscle structure and function, you spend a lot of time developing your aerobic conditioning, you’re soliciting the slow twitch fibers almost exclusively for a great length of time, and it was Lydiard that said, the broader the base, the higher the peak. It was one of those things. And so, the problem with that thinking is that when you shift away, they make a departure from the base training once they’ve completed it, and they go into the higher intensity stuff, you start to shift away from those slow twitch fibers that you were working, and you start trading off the structure and the metabolic properties of the muscle. By the way, I just wrote this book. I released it last year.

 

It took me almost five years to write it, because I was having such a hard time because here’s what happens with guys like us, we’re influenced by those that preceded us, and we tend to, if we’re going to move forward with theory or concepts, it’s generally borrowed, it’s something we learn from other people. And that’s what education is, we learn from other people. My first book I wrote, I did that, and I talked about periodization, I talked about phases of training, and get the base work, the whole thing, 80/20.

 

I went through that whole thing, and I didn’t want to do that again because I said, why am I doing this when I have probably more research and metabolic testing than anybody that I’ve ever met? Hear me when I say this, I’ve literally tested thousands of athletes from all walks of life, and so what I did is, I got my printer and I just started printing reports, printing reports, and I got this big compilation of case study and started looking at the cause and effect relationships with people’s thresholds relative to age, relative to their level of fitness at the time, and started looking at some interesting stuff. Listen to this now. I’ve seen guys that are doing ultra-marathons that they have the worst threshold in the world. They have no aerobic capacity whatsoever. And so they go anaerobic after 120 beats per minute, and they’re going to race for six hours at 160 beats per minute. How could this be true?

 

So, what has been left off the table for the longest time is the ability to develop the anaerobic pathway and reconstitute that lactate into usable fuel and get what I call an energy rebate. And so I’m not saying don’t do aerobic conditioning, I’m just saying that you could do all variations of intensity in a given week, in a given workout, and end up in the same place. So for example, if you’re periodizing your work and you say, I’m going to dedicate 70% of my training to aerobic conditioning, because my game is I want to go long, well, you could go out for an hour workout and dedicate 60% of that workout to aerobic conditioning, and then develop high intensity training within that same workout in a flow pattern.

 

So rather than just looking at your heart rate monitor, use some intuition, use some perception, start paying attention to the way your body’s responding to the work. And this is where people get lost. They’re either completely following their [ID 00:31:20], or they’re relying exclusively on what the monitor’s telling them. And so my athletes, when they’re racing, I do not want them to wear a heart rate monitor. It’s a witch hunt. Use the monitor for education while you’re training, but take from what you’ve learned and put that together instinctively in your race. Start to trust the way your body responds.

Steven Sashen:

Well, there are a couple things I find interesting. First, I will take issue with you saying guys like us, because my natural inclination is when I hear from some expert is to try and prove them wrong as quickly as I can, not because I’m trying to be a dick about it, but because I want to look for counterfactuals. When someone’s saying A leads to B, I’m really curious how often does A lead to C, how often does D lead B. I just want to see the whole picture. Because typically people who are teaching something, they’ve codified it, they’ve ossified it, so they have a thing to teach, and I’m just really, really curious. So when I started working with sprint coaches and they said, well, you have to do the following drill. I would say, why? What’s it doing for me?

 

And in fact, one of my best friends is a world champion cross country runner, and we became best friends from two events. One is, we were working with the same coach. He’s a distance runner, I’m a sprinter. And we were both, I noticed, sitting out of certain warmup drills that the coach was telling us to do. And I came up to him while we were not doing one of those drills and I said, “Why aren’t you doing this drill?” And he goes, “Oh, because it’s bullshit.” And I said, “Oh my God, I love you, because I thought the same thing.” The second one was that he came to the track one day and set a personal best, and at the end of doing that, he said, “It’s so funny, I wasn’t going to come out today because I felt like crap.” I said, “How often have you set personal bests when you felt like crap, and how often have you felt great and barely been able to run?”

 

He goes, “Oh, both of those happen all the time.” And I’ve asked many, many Olympians the same question, and they always have the same answer. Sometimes I had 105 degree fever and I won the race, sometimes I felt great and I barely made it out of the starting blocks. I said, “Well, then we just debunked sports psychology.” And then the other one was training with this one sprinting coach, he did something that I adored, but with this first coach I had, we always did whatever we were doing for the workouts, and then we did this big cool down, and so then I worked with this other sprinter who at the end of the workout just got in his car. And I said, “So no cool down?”

 

He goes, “What are you talking about? Your muscles are done. You’re going to cool down when you drive home. You don’t need to do some magic thing.” So, I’m just always looking. So with the V02 max thing, what’s interesting to me is if V02 max was the holy grail, then we’d line people up at the beginning of a race, check their VO2 max and give out awards. And the last part of my little rant here is that people don’t want to consider the individual differences in the genetic propensities for any of these things. So there’s a lot of data that there are 11 genetic SNPs, 11 bits in your genome that correlate very highly to whether you are VO2 max training responsive or not, whether doing this long slow stuff will improve your VO2 max or not.

 

I know from my own experience that I’m a non-responder. I can do long, slow shit all day long, and nothing changes. And I know other people like Benji Durden, almost Olympian, Benji to this day at almost 80, Benji’s VO2 max is higher than almost any human being on the planet. He was just born that way. And people don’t like to consider the genetic part, which is so ironic because when it comes to sprinting, Ralph Mann who got the silver in the 400m hurdles in Munich, says there’s eight things that make a sprinter, seven of them are genetic, and the eighth is how well you maximize your genetics, and people just don’t like to think that’s true.

Richard Diaz:

I had a conversation with Michael Johnson. And if you recall when he held world records in the 100, 200, 300, 400 for 12 years, and if you’ve ever watched him run, he looks like a door going through space. And again, being me, I said, “So Michael…you run like shit, dude.” You know what he told me?

Steven Sashen:

No.

Richard Diaz:

He goes, “I haven’t lost a race since I was six.”

Steven Sashen:

Yeah, this is the thing. Ato Boldon when he was the world champion in the 100, his right foot was turned out 90 degrees, and people would say, imagine what you could do if your right foot was turned in. He goes, “Yeah, I wouldn’t run as fast.”

Richard Diaz:

Right. Yeah. So who wants to mess with it? This is what happens with world class runners. If you look at Haile Gebrselassie, he runs like a duck, you know what I mean? What are you going to do? And I have this conversation often with athletes I work with, is the what if question. Because they want to leave well enough alone. They’re so bent on trying to leave well enough alone. In some cases, I agree. Some cases, I think that you just don’t want to mess with it because there may be anatomical issues that are just not going to be corrected, but then if in a perfect world, by putting your posture in the right space, allowing your body to do and to have a marriage with inertia and physics and just allow the right things to occur, you’re going to see some astounding performances. And so, what I typically will find with the people I work with that I have changed go from being horrific heel strikers to running on their forefoot and having great success. Maybe they’re not a lot faster, but the capability of putting in more work.

Steven Sashen:

They’re healthier. They’ve got longer careers.

Richard Diaz:

Doubling up, tripling up their volume without injury.

Steven Sashen:

We had a guy working for us early on, our first customer service, I’d say manager, but he was the only guy. He was 65 years old at the time. He lived in Denver. We were in Boulder. He ran in our sandals, which was by that point four millimeters of rubber strapped your foot. He ran two and a half miles to the bus, took the bus to Boulder, ran two and a half miles to the office, then went back home. So there’s 10. Then he took the dog out for five, 10 miles. And then on the weekends, he did his heavy, long distance training. So he was doing 120 to 140 miles a week, 65 years old, never had a problem. He had perfect form. It was gorgeous to watch.

Richard Diaz:

Yeah. Again, I’ll get people that want to argue with me and say, well, your body’s just going to do what your body does, and there’s no sense of trying to influence that, and I take exception to that. Let’s just say I can’t make you a perfect runner, but if I can improve the way you move by 20%, if I could reduce the injuries by 20%, and you could increase the volume by 20% we would see a big difference.

Steven Sashen:

Big difference. I got a theory about this that I want to bounce by you, because I’ve rarely been able to talk to someone about this. But first, actually a quick Michael Johnson story. One of my friends and coach/training partner was a four by 400 meter world champion, and he’s racing Michael, and he’s coming around the second turn in the 400, and he’s shoulder to shoulder with Michael, and he kind of looks at Michael and indicates that, hey, we’re right next to each other, and Michael just says, “See ya,” and puts on another gear, and my friend Jay is like, “What just happened?”

 

So that was that. But anyway, here’s my thing. There are a couple things. We learn to move for a couple different reasons, one is to fit in with our tribe, our parents, our friends, our family. We adopt movement patterns. Those movement patterns get ingrained in our brain stem. And sometimes we get those movement patterns just from wearing certain products. I mean, I watch little kids who have impeccable form, and then they put on shoes, and a year later, same old shit as everybody else. And once those patterns are wired, I say there’s four different kinds of people. And it’s all about neuroplasticity. Some people just can’t feel anything, they’re not getting any feedback, no matter what they do, and so it’s really, really, really hard for them to lay down new neural pathways to learn new movement patterns.

 

Some people, they can feel things, they can tell if something hurts or feels good, but they don’t have great proprioceptive skills. These are the people who tell me they’re not heel striking, and they send me a video of them heel striking, and they literally don’t know that they’re doing it, and they need that video feedback to go, oh crap. And I remember as a young gymnast we had a thing in the compulsory floor ex routine where you had to put your arms parallel to the ground, it took us weeks to learn what parallel to the ground felt like, because it didn’t look the way you thought it would. It looked wrong when it was right, and we just had to learn that.

Richard Diaz:

Yeah, you’re right.

Steven Sashen:

Third group of people, they can tell if it hurts or feels good, they have decent proprioceptive skills, they just need some cues to shorten the learning process. And then the fourth group of people, they’re naturals, and the problem they have, because they’re adept at learning new things, have is you teach them something new, and it’s good, they really enjoy it, they’ll do too much too soon, and then get tired and revert to one of those previous levels, and then have something happen, and they just don’t realize what the glitch was. That’s my current working theory.

Richard Diaz:

In my book, I make the comment that you can’t learn to run by reading something. You can’t learn to run by watching a video. I mean, you go on YouTube education and watch all these professionals profess on how you’re supposed to run. And I’m one of them, I’m out there. And I’ve got a video that’s got half a million hits on how to run, but I will be the first one to tell you that you’re not going to learn to run by watching the video. What I’ve done that I think is probably the most genius thing that I’ve ever learned was, aside from explaining to people while I have them on a treadmill and trying to alter their gait, get them to change the way they’re approaching work, is to let them see it. So I put a video on them so that they can see, they’re looking at their side view while they’re running forward.

 

I’ll put an iPad up in front of them on a stand while they’re running, and they can see because they know what they’re trying to achieve. That’s not rocket science. I know I’m supposed to be on my forefoot, I know I’m not supposed to be overstriding, and I know what my arm swing’s supposed to look like, and I know how my posture’s supposed to be, but their perception of what they’re doing is skewed. So they’re out there running around thinking they’re doing it right, and it still hurts, and so they’re wanting to know, well, this is bullshit, why am I still in pain when I’m doing it right? Well, when I alter the perception, when I get them to identify what they were doing wrong and see that, in fact, I said, “If it doesn’t feel weird, you’re probably doing it wrong, because I’m not changing.”

Steven Sashen:

Yeah. Well, do you know what Ralph Mann did? Have you seen his system?

Richard Diaz:

No.

Steven Sashen:

So, Ralph, who after he stopped competing, became I think a biomechanical engineer, and he looked at I think 600 sprinters, which for him is anything up to the 400 or 400 hurdles, and identified what he thinks of as the common factors for successful sprinting, and he made a stick figure that’s a perfect sprinter. So what he then does with his software, which he made way long ago, and really if he had an Xbox Connect, could have done it almost immediately and better I think, but he measures your limbs and makes a perfect stick figure out of you, and then he films you, but he could only film for a short little window, like you’re running across for 10 meters maybe, and he films you, and then overlays the stick figure, showing what you should be doing versus what you are doing.

 

Now, when I talked to Ralph years ago, he said, “We know what we need to get them to do, we don’t know how to get them to do it.” And I want to talk to you about that, because I have a theory about how to get them to do it. But part of what you’re doing is just exactly that, is getting people to see that what they think they’re doing and what they are doing isn’t the same. I do two things. One is, I’ll try to get them to exaggerate doing it wrong, and then exaggerate doing the right version, because then you can find that middle ground a little. I’ve done a thing where I’ve worked with runners where I stand in front of them and have them lean into my hands, and I run backwards while they run forwards, just to get them into some position that they could never get to on their own to feel what it feels like to not be overstriding.

 

And the phenomenon of getting the feedback that you need to make those changes, and then realizing exactly what you said, if it doesn’t feel wrong, you’re doing something wrong. And there’s another thing I say, other than people need to know physics, is they need to remember that learning a new movement pattern feels “frustrating,” because that’s the experience of laying down new neural pathways. But what’s so interesting to me about this and talking to you about it is, we just don’t have a movement educational system that gets people to understand the basics of how you learn to move, how you learn to do these things in a way where people don’t feel like there’s a problem in the learning process, that that what they’re experiencing during the learning process is the learning process, not the indication that you can’t do it, it’s wrong, et cetera.

Richard Diaz:

Yeah. So, the other epiphany that I had recently, and recently being in the past five years, is that it doesn’t make a difference how much you know or what you believe you should be doing if your body is not going to. Are you familiar with Gray Cook?

Steven Sashen:

No.

Richard Diaz:

Gray Cook wrote a book, it’s called Movement. He’s a physical therapist, and he was very eloquent in the way he laid it down. It’s like you have to run well, and then from running well, run more often. There’s this whole concept of the windlass mechanism. I’m sure you’re familiar with this.

Steven Sashen:

So, wait, hold on. I’m familiar. For people who are listening, do me a favor and explain the windlass mechanism?

Richard Diaz:

Okay. Windlass mechanism, it’s a mechanical function of you put stress here, it causes tension.

Steven Sashen:

Wait, hold on, you got to pretend people aren’t watching you, so you got to describe.

Richard Diaz:

Oh yeah. All right. So let’s imagine that we have rope on a winch, you’re trying to pull your car out of a ditch with a winch. As that wheel turns and puts the tension on the corridor or cable that you have tied to whatever, that tensioning effect is something that occurs underneath your foot. So the fascia, the connected tissue, the tendons and ligaments that are attached first to your great toe, when you have flexion in your great toe, you create tension on the fascial structure beneath your foot, and the result is your mid foot becomes stable. So, you have mobility at the great toe that causes stability at the midfoot, and the midfoot stability promotes mobility at the ankle, and the mobility at the ankle promotes stability at the next joint up, which would be your knee, and then the mobility that comes from that and so on and so forth. So there’s this alternating effect of mobility, stability, mobility, stability.

 

So, if you look at the two concepts of heel striking, is it okay or not, forefoot running, is it proper, if you bypass the physics of causing this engagement, and this structural engagement to occur in the sequence that it’s supposed to, then you’re never going to be able to be effectively stable. And so the concept of getting on your forefoot is critical if you really want to develop good force production, because force production’s going to come from stability, and the stability’s going to come from putting your foot in the proper position on the ground. And so someone may argue that, oh well, heel strike is fine. You land on your calcaneus, there’s nothing to protect you.

Steven Sashen:

It’s a ball. It’s unstable.

Richard Diaz:

Well, beyond that, just the fact that there’s no structural engagement, there’s nothing that’s going to cause this engagement of the structure up into your pelvic floor. It’s not going to happen. Because what I’ll see, people who are heel striking, hip problems, they’re collapsing at the joint, at the knee, but if you start looking at the structure, if you have no mobility in the ankle, then everything north of that’s going to be problematic. If you have issues with the big toe and it doesn’t have much mobility, then you start to run into issues with failure in the structure in the middle of your foot. So I’ve gotten to a place where I pay really, really close attention to all the little niggles and circumstance, and what’s supposed to happen first, what precedes the next movement pattern.

 

And I start looking at the structure as a whole and saying, all right, well, here’s what you’re trying to do, here’s what you’re doing wrong, here’s what we want to correct. Now, some people will never get their ankle to allow them to have good range, which means they’re going to get their foot off the ground too early, and so they’re never going to get a chance to get stable when they make ground contact. So I look at all of that. I mean, in my lab, what I’ll do is, I’ll have people come in, I’ve got an amazing treadmill, it’ll go 28 miles an hour in two directions with a 28% gradient, and I’ll hook up cameras, and I’ve learned from years of doing this that I cannot judge you with a naked eye.

Steven Sashen:

No, in fact, I was in Bill Sand’s lab when he was out at what’s now Colorado Mesa University, his line was, you can’t learn anything in under 500 frames a second.

Richard Diaz:

Yeah. And I agree with him, because I’ll look at somebody with a naked eye and it looks pretty good, and then reveal what’s really occurring when I slow it down, and I’m glad that I didn’t open my big mouth and say, oh, looks good, because in fact, it was terrible. But I mean, this is my jam. This is what I do day-to-day. You know I’ve been disheveled, because all my stuff has been in flux. I’ve finally got my treadmill up. The guy showed up. I had the treadmill up a day before he got there. And I’m in middle Tennessee, he drove up from Florida to see me. And we spent three hours together, and he turned around and went home.

 

And I have this happen often. I have people travel from all over. I almost feel guilty when they go through that much trouble just to see me, but I’ve been very successful in creating solutions for people. I’m no physician, I’m not a PT, I’m just a guy that’s been spending a lot of time studying and getting evidence, learning from people that come to see me. And I’ve come to this position that, there is a way to do this, and I cannot endorse a shoe that will not allow you to have an even playing field. You need to have an opportunity to function.

 

Now, what I was going to say about your shoe that I have a problem with is that, on paper, the boxes are all checked, but the body that’s trying to get into the shoe is not prepared. And so, I’ll have people jump into a minimal shoe and really hurt themselves, and it could be, as we discussed earlier, it could be a function of trying to do too much, too early, it could be that their structures are just defunct, they’re not able to engage the ground properly, not take advantage of the potential of that information coming into the body well.

 

I’ve got a client in Georgia right now that, he’s had plantar fasciitis for a year, he’s coming up to see me probably in two weeks he’s in the medical profession, he’s a radiologist, and he can’t find anyone to help him. He’s just been frustrated as hell. And he’s been changing shoes. And I’ve been a staunch follower of all the RockTape stuff, they got some amazing, amazing people that work for them.

Steven Sashen:

I don’t disagree with that. I think that there’s just a lot of placebo stuff going on there. I’m not saying it doesn’t work, I’m saying that for the situations where it does work, they’re fewer than the situations for which it’s a placebo.

Richard Diaz:

I don’t know. You’ve got to give me an example.

Steven Sashen:

Well, this is my N=1, is all the people who taped the crap out of me where it made absolutely no difference whatsoever, and then when I look at some of the things that they’re trying to do where, at high speed in particular, there’s no way you’re getting any sensory feedback that’s going to alter biomechanics in any way with some tiny bit of skin stretching that’s occurring from the tape.

Richard Diaz:

I agree with you. That’s not the go-to move for me. I’ve gone through all their courses. They’ve supported me for over a decade. I know these guys very well, and they have some tremendous minds that are doing education with those guys. And I’ve been around the block a million times, and I know when I’m in the right room, and I know when it’s time to leave, and I’ve never been disappointed when I’ve gone and done an education with them.

Steven Sashen:

Look, I am like you, more than happy to be proven wrong with something that’s useful.

Richard Diaz:

Well, so let me give you an example, the RockPods. And anybody that’s gone to a massage parlor and had them cup, they’re talking about pulling the bad blood out, I thought these people are insane, there’s no value in this. But I got the course for free because I wanted to do it, I want to check it out, and I went in with absolute apprehension. And again, evidence-based, dynamically cupping someone’s posterior chain, the calf down to the Achilles, put them on a treadmill, and they were on a pain scale, one to 10, before I cup them, incapable of running, incapable. 10 being, oh my God, I’m dying, this is really painful, one being zero, I don’t feel a thing. Be a 10, put the cups on them, put them on the treadmill for five minutes, pull the cups off, put them back on the treadmill, zero pain.

Steven Sashen:

So, what do you think is causing that?

Richard Diaz:

Well, what it’s doing is, it’s causing a decrease in inflammation between the fascia layers, allowing the fascia layers to slide, encouraging more hyaluronic acid to go in between the fascia layers. So, it’s like the WD40 between these. So, you’re just basically causing things to be more agreeable. It’s more congruent.

Steven Sashen:

Well, there’s a lot of situations where inducing a particular kind of stress can have beneficial effects. So that, prolotherapy, which I’m a big fan of because that saved my life, and I’ve seen that before. So here’s where my brain goes on that. I’m not going to disagree with what you’re describing at all; I’m going to start wondering, are there other explanations, just an out of sheer curiosity. Could it be just a neurological thing where the cupping, which feels weird as shit, where it’s maybe shutting off some nervous impulse that was telling the central governor in your brain, oh, stop doing that, and now you’re okay. I mean, for all I know, you’re completely right, and I’m totally cool with that.

Richard Diaz:

Take it a step further. 10 years ago when I first met these guys, they introduced me to the concept of tape, and it absolutely is a neurological influence that’s going off. There are more nerve endings in your fascia than there is anywhere else in your body, and now they’re concluding that there are contractual properties in the fascia, which people did not know Six months ago, nobody found this out.

Steven Sashen:

So, hold on. Do you mean literally contractile, or reactively?

Richard Diaz:

No, there’s contractual properties within the fascia. It used to be that you go to an anatomy class, and they stripped the fascia away from the cadaver so that they could see the muscles, only to discount it being in the fascia. This is the way it’s been. This is kind of funny because, five years ago, nobody thought about this. The people that are looking into this, they just released recently scientific evidence last year that they just identified the fascia has more nerve endings than they original thought. It used to be they say skin. Skin has more nerve endings than any organ on your body. Now they identified, well no, it’s not, the fascia is more important. So how much influence you can create in these fascia layers has very big repercussion.

 

Now I’m not going to discount the idea that there’s some placebo value. I put hands on somebody, and they feel better. And it could be that I’ve done nothing, but just made them feel better. But what I’ll do, again, I’ll do a clinic, and I teach taping, I teach blading, I teach cupping, I teach all the different things that they do. And so a guy comes to me hurt, and I’ll tape him. What’s the repercussion from that? I find out that the guy runs a marathon, he was able to run the marathon pain-free. Okay, that’s interesting. Then it happens again, and then it happens again, and then it happens again. So now it’s starting to be compelling. I start getting attention-driven when I start seeing that time and time and time again, there’s results.

Steven Sashen:

Well, here’s the question that comes up for me the way I think about it, is my original question of, what do you think is happening from the cupping, for example, and you described a number of biochemical processes, some of those are very easily testable, some of them not, and that’s the part that I’m really curious about, because if that theory, or if what you’re describing as the mechanism for action is legit, then we could see some of that. And I’ll also throw in, it may be that that’s the causal phenomenon for some people and not for others.

 

So, I mean, there’s a bunch of things in here. Again, I’m just really curious, because I’m always looking to find the thing that’s going to work. Now, happily, I haven’t had an injury of any import for 12 years since I got out of regular shoes, so it’s not something that concerns me any longer the way it did in my first couple years of sprinting where I went from injury to injury to injury, and people tried every modality known to man, and none of them worked, because fundamentally the problem was that I had a form issue that no matter what they did to make things go away, it was going to get activated again the next time I ran.

Richard Diaz:

Sure. And that’s what’s still happening these days, by the way. So people get hurt, and they identify that, oh, it’s time to take a week off. They take a week off, they go out and run again, and they hurt themselves. So there’s a limiting factor. It could be 20 miles a week, 30 miles a week. And I tell people all the time, it’s a matter of strength to weight ratio, how strong you are, how resistant you are to pain or injury because your structure’s better than somebody that’s not as strong. So you can get 40, but you’re stuck at 40, and you know that the holy grail is at 60. In order for you to perform at the level that you want to perform, you need to get up to that volume that you’re not able to achieve.

 

And I take people out of that 40 and put them in 60 all day long, and then suddenly, because they’re just doing more work and they’re attempting to do it better. Maybe they’re only doing it better for 40% of their running, but 40% better is better. So they’re able to do more. And I have athletes I work with that are doing 24-hour events, they’re trying to run for 24 hours, and so we’ll get up in that 100 mile a week stratosphere, and prior to changing the way they move, getting into a more agreeable shoe, and just approaching the work.

 

By the way, this is not just slogging along either, this is with intensity, and they’re able to get in that 100 mile a week minus injury. Tired, sore of course, but we’re not talking about my Achilles is railing on me, my IT band’s going off, my back’s bothering me, I’ve got stress fractures in my feet. None of that stuff’s happening, and they’re working in a shoe that might be 50% of what they were wearing before. And I’ll tell you what I hate, when I feel like I’ve failed someone where they came to see me, and then later I see a picture of them on social media or something, and they’re wearing a HOKA.

Steven Sashen:

It blows my mind. I mean, when the HOKA first came out, I said to people, you’re going to feel better for a little while, you’ll get more miles in, and in two years, you won’t be able to run again, because you can’t feel it, but what you’re doing is, you’re spreading the pressure out so your foot’s not feeling it, but the force is going straight into your joints. You’re going to be screwed. And they all told me I was crazy, and I don’t know one of them who’s still running.

 

But hey, I got to back up to the thing you said about our shoes and people in them. On the one hand, I completely agree with you. There are some people whose bodies aren’t there yet, and we do the best we can to tell people, look, here’s how you break it in slowly. And break it in meaning your body. If you haven’t been to the gym for a while, you don’t go into the gym and do eight hours bicep curls. You do a set, you see how you feel the next day. If you’re sore, you wait until you feel better. When you can do that set and it’s no problem, then you add a rep, then you add a set, whatever you’re going to do.

 

I will tell you the good news is that, having now done this with getting close to a million people, is we almost never hear from people who have any serious problems other than the kind of normal transitional stuff. And even “normal transitional stuff” is not normal. I have a blog post that’s about how calf soreness is optional. But in fact, I’m about to do a podcast rant. It occurred to me the other day. There’s this whole thing with sprinters, you can’t train in your spikes because it’s going to ruin your Achilles. It’s like, no, no, no, no, no, it’s the other way around. Your Achilles got ruined from wearing the higher hoof shoe where you’re not using your Achilles fully because you’re not letting it stretch fully, and now it’s gotten either.

 

I don’t know that it’s shortened, I think there’s a lot of mythology in there, but you’ve certainly trained your reflex arc to think that your Achilles is done stretching when it’s still got two inches to go. So, your brain thinks that you’ve got to stop right there, and it’s going to stop you, and so that’s why you’re ending up with Achilles problems, not because there’s something inherent to spikes that are causing a problem, it’s the other way around.

Richard Diaz:

I see this often too, people will race in a low-profile shoe, and they’ll train in a shoe that’s got a massive heel.

Steven Sashen:

Stack height, huge heel. Yeah.

Richard Diaz:

And I’m thinking, why would you want to train in something that’s going to be contrary to what you’re trying to achieve?

Steven Sashen:

But here’s the reason. The reason is, the mythology of most coaches who, like you said, are just regurgitating what they learned from someone else who didn’t investigate what they did, generations of regurgitation, so what they’ve been told is you can’t train in a racing flat, you have to train in a big thick padded shoe, and then you race in the racing flat. That’s why it’s called a racing flat. And this is just mythology, and it’s been why they do it. And more, they do it because they’re afraid of doing something different than what everyone else is doing and what their coaches told them, because if they’re moderately successful, even with the problems they run into by racing in the flat, for example, they’re, rightly so, anxious about doing something different. If I was top 10, top 20 in the world, the idea of doing something different would scare the crap out of me, unless I had a really good reason to do it, if I was injured and someone said, this is the way to get there or to get better.

Richard Diaz:

And believe me, I run into this often where I get into communities where the people there have coaches, and a lot of times the coaches are there in the clinic that I’m doing, so they’re taking a hit because I’m quickly disputing a lot of the fallacies that are being tossed around the room. The advantage that I’ve had, which is kind of cool to be honest with you, is that I’ve got a name out there now, and so the people that are coming are coming because they think they’re coming to see the second coming of Christ. And it’s kind of ironic, but my reputation precedes me. So they know I’m going to be gruff, but they know that I’ve had really great success with the people I’ve worked with. And usually it’s a function of people saying, oh my God, you got to go see this guy. I watch this on social media, it’s like watching a tennis match.

 

There are conversations going back and forth, this hurts, that hurts, that hurts, somebody says, go see that guy, and I’ll keep getting that. Who is he? And I’m just watching. They don’t even know that I’m looking at it. And I won’t even comment, because I don’t want to get in the middle of that. But I’ll see people fighting with each other about who to go see, and it always comes back to you got to go see this guy. So, when I come into the room and I offer my opinion, they’re paying attention.

 

So, then they’ll ask me those pointed questions like, what shoe should I wear, and they want me to say Altra, they want me to say whatever, HOKA, they want me to say something that I’m not going to say, I’m not going to say it. And I used to joke with people. I said, you’d think with the influence I have around the country, I have clients all over the world. I got huge influence with people. By the way, I sold a ton of shoes for Topo. They don’t know it, but I sold a lot of their shoes until they started to develop more stack height in the product. I thought, another one.

Steven Sashen:

Wait. Hold on. By the way, the thing you said before about you can imagine the conversations in the companies where they say, we’ve got to make it thicker, because what’s going to sell, I know of people who’ve been in those rooms, that is exactly the conversation. I won’t mention names. I sat around all day Saturday with someone who was in that room, who started one of the shoe companies, and they were told they had to go higher, higher, higher, more and more cushioning, changed the entire DNA of what he believed in because they needed to sell more shoes.

 

And it’s one of the things that we are incredibly grateful for, is we’ve never had corporate overlords telling us we had to do anything different than what we know is real. And even more, if someone ever tried to buy the company, by now they’d be hopefully smart enough to realize that changing one thing about the DNA of what we’re doing would destroy the entire company, it wouldn’t sell more shoes, because almost 50% of our sales are from existing customers. If they changed it, that half of the business would disappear instantly. So we’re happily in a good position about that, but you were absolutely right.

Richard Diaz:

I had a company come to me again and these guys were principles at Nike, these guys were big players for Nike sitting in a room, and they hired me to create a marketing position for a shoe that they were bringing to market.

Steven Sashen:

Was this semi-recently?

Richard Diaz:

It’s probably been about five or six years ago.

Steven Sashen:

Okay. Then it’s not who I’m thinking of. Okay.

Richard Diaz:

But anyway, we had the same kind of conversation. These guys go, he goes, they don’t give a flip whether this shoe’s good for you or bad for you, all they care about is, is it going to sell, is it going to make money.

Steven Sashen:

Richard, we’ve had the CEOs of multi-billion-dollar footwear brands say directly to a friend of ours, who’s a billionaire who got really interested in what we were doing. And these are guys that he knew from Harvard Business School, so we reached out to them. And he said, “What do you think about this whole natural movement thing?” And almost verbatim each one of them said the same thing. It’s totally legit, but we can’t do it, because it would be admitting everything we’ve been saying for 50 years is wrong.

Richard Diaz:

Yeah. Yeah. No, and that’s true, because you do, you have to back up in a lot of the marketing positions that you created for yourself.

Steven Sashen:

The marketing is, and I say this with a combination of envy and anger, brilliant. Because again, backing up to you need to know physics. My favorite example is when Adidas came out with their boost foam, and they bounced a steel ball off cement, and it shows that it barely bounces, they bounced it off the other company’s “foam,” and it bounces a little bit, and then off their new boost foam, and it bounces. The first bounce comes up to maybe 30% of where they dropped it from, and then it bounces about 10 more times. And I, having started teaching people physics when I was 14, immediately knew that there was an exhibit at the exploratory museum in San Francisco where they have a little steel ball and a steel plate with concrete underneath it, and you drop the steel ball through a piece of Plexiglas with a hole in it, and the first bounce hits the Plexiglas, and then it bounces 260 more times.

 

I said, “So based on physics, you want to make a shoe made out of steel, and you only want to run on steel with concrete underneath it.” I mean, that’s the physics of it. And I’ve even got a recording, it’s on YouTube, of a guy from Adidas, someone asked him what’s energy return, and clearly nobody was paying attention because the first thing he said is, there’s no such thing as energy return. It’s like, oh my God. It’s the number one thing people have been advertising for the last 40 years.

Richard Diaz:

I know. It’s a frustrating affair. And again, going back to the fact that I looked at your shoes and I said, he’s checking all the boxes, and I thought there’s nothing in his quiver that violates the initial premise, because it’s either you believe it or you don’t, and I believe it. I believe that you want to protect your feet. And by the way, one of my friends who just passed away recently had the world record for the most marathons run barefoot. He ran 240 marathons. He was running a marathon every week barefoot.

Steven Sashen:

What’s his name?

Richard Diaz:

I knew you were going to ask me that.

Steven Sashen:

Sorry, I have a hard time with names, so my apologies.

Richard Diaz:

I will send it to you. I will send it to you. I can’t believe I can’t remember his name. But this guy, he lived in Malibu, they found him passed away in his car. He was in a parking lot. They thought he was missing; everybody was looking for him.

Steven Sashen:

That’s okay.

Richard Diaz:

But it was funny because I used to tease him all the time. He’d come see me, and he was all about what I was doing. And I would have him get on the treadmill and run barefoot just so people could see what it looks like when you run the way your body was designed to run. We would run together, and every now and then he would step on something, he’d have an issue with it, and I’d go, “What’s wrong with your foot?” He goes, “Oh, I stepped on a little something, and it just kind of…” I said, “Put some shoes on.” He wasn’t wearing shoes.

Steven Sashen:

I spend most of my time barefoot. When I’m in shoes, I wear mismatched colors. I was in Costco a little while ago standing in line at a pharmacy, and the guy behind me goes, “Hey, your shoes don’t match.” And the pharmacist, without missing a beat or without looking said, “He’s wearing shoes?” And so in the 12 years or 13 years I’ve been doing this, I’ve only had two injuries from being barefoot, it was the exact same one, I stubbed my toe on something that I wasn’t paying attention to, that’s it. Got a little cut on the front of my big toe, that’s it.

Richard Diaz:

And I was going to say this earlier, and I didn’t. Every clinic I do, I get everyone in the clinic to run on natural surfaces barefoot. I’ll take them out, and I said, okay, we’re going to do this and that and this with some intensity. We make sure that the area that we’re going to run on is safe, but natural surface. Not one time Did I have anybody come back to me after the fact and say, ever since I did that, my Achilles is bothering me, or my I’ve been having plantar fasciitis or something. That never happens. And so, going to the point where people will talk about, well, you must transition, I took these people’s shoes away from them, and they were able to run, and they didn’t have any issue, explain that to me?

Steven Sashen:

Yeah. No, I saw it in Bill Sand’s lab where we did a little pilot study, and we just took a bunch of people and had them run in their regular favorite shoes, and then barefoot, and then in our sandals, and 90% of them instantly basically started running better when they took off their shoes, and the small percentage that didn’t, it took maybe 20 seconds of not even instructions, just a couple of cues until they went, oh, I got it, and then they did the same. Because again, doing it wrong hurts, doing it right feels good. You’re not an idiot, you’re going to not do something that hurts if you don’t think that you’re supposed to.

Richard Diaz:

Danny Abshire, I’ll give him credit for this, we were doing these clinics, and he was famous for having people stand on a box and jump off the box.

Steven Sashen:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, it’s something that I’m actually making a video about that, which it’s a variation on that, which is I have a phone book, I say everything you need to know about running, you learn from this book. And it’s phone book, and it’s the same thing. Just step off of it and land on one foot, and then bound off of it and look how you land on your foot. I mean, that’s it.

Richard Diaz:

Yeah. I’ve never had anybody jump off the block onto their heels.

Steven Sashen:

No, never happens.

Richard Diaz:

Yeah. And thousands of people that I’ve done this with. It got out of fashion after a while, I quit doing it, but you know what I mean, we could do this all day long.

Steven Sashen:

We could. So let’s wrap it up by doing this. First of all, this has been a total, total pleasure. And secondly, do me a favor, tell people how they can find out what you’re up to, get in touch with you, et cetera, et cetera?

Richard Diaz:

All right. Well, the easiest way to get ahold of me is through my website, which is diazhumanperformance.com.

Steven Sashen:

Perfect.

Richard Diaz:

And everything we do is there. I got about 8,000 followers on YouTube, and that’s just my name, Richard Diaz. And then of course I can be found on Instagram, and it’s @diazhp. It’s all kind of an abbreviation off of a Diaz Human Performance. Somewhere along the way, I could have had some snazzy name for my business, but it’s just been too many years.

Steven Sashen:

Yeah. I think that ship has sailed. Well, Richard, I look forward to what’s next. We definitely can do more of this, and we shall, and we’ll have some more fun. I think we did answer the question, albeit obliquely, about yes, can you change your gait, or should you or not, and ways of going about that, but more importantly, I know people will want to reach out to hopefully both of us and explore that some more. My wife has a line that I adore. She says, “There’s enough shoe companies in the world, you don’t need another one, unless your shoes change people’s lives.” And we just hear it all day every day. And I like to say, we’re not doing anything other than getting out of the way to let your body tell you how to change your life, and you’re doing that same work.

 

And literally my only home hope on the planet, or only hope in my mind is that we live long enough to see that what we’re doing become common wisdom in the way that the mythology of padding, support, and motion control has in the last 50 years. And it seems to me like it can happen, because we’re getting more and more people to start to experience it, and at a certain point when you get to a kind of critical mass, then even the doubters go, let me give it a shot. And once you have the experience, you can’t deny that, there’s no arguing with that experience. So fingers crossed that we both live to see that.

Richard Diaz:

Yeah, I know. And I know we to shut this down, but just let me share with you that I wouldn’t continue to do what I’m doing if I wasn’t being successful with it and I didn’t have people that are getting benefit from my work. If what I’m doing isn’t working, somebody would’ve shut me down a long time ago.

Steven Sashen:

A friend of mine, a guy named Dr. Tom Raven, who’s the guy who taught prolotherapy to most of the people who do it. And people can look it up. But I said to Tom, “How do you know that prolo works if there’s not research behind it?” He goes, “Because I don’t take insurance, I charge a lot of money, it’s really painful, and people come back.”

 

So anyway, Richard, thank you again. And for everyone else, thank you. If you have any questions or comments, et cetera, or requests, people who you want to have me talk to on the show, people who you think will tell me I have a case of cranial rectal reorientation syndrome, AKA having my head up my butt, happy to do it. It’s always very entertaining. It doesn’t happen. It doesn’t work. But anyway, drop an email to move, [email protected] Go check out the website, jointhemovementmovement.com, and you’ll find all the previous episodes, places you can engage with us, how you can share this and spread the word. Most importantly though, just go out and have fun and live life feet first.

 

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