Gentle Running and Living

by Dr Patrick Salmon, PharmD, PhD

Member of the Barefoot Runners Society

Founding Member of the Tarahumara Spirit   

Be gentle

to yourself

and others!

“Life is hard enough to add extra suffering to it”. We propose here a way to build a stronger, healthier and happier self through gentle running. Then, this “ascetic hedonism” can be translated into several aspects of life, to humbly contribute to a better world.

The Biomechanics of Running



Using your body like a DROP HAMMER

Using your body like a SPRING

As shown on left, if you land on your heel, that is because you are over-striding, i.e. your forefoot lands in front of your center of mass. So you brake until your foot comes below your center of mass. It is simple physics.

However, the energy you lose for moving forward during this “braking” phase, is not lost. It is spread in your whole body as a destructive shockwave.

As shown on the left, all the yellow arrows point at either bones or joints. These structures are NOT designed to absorb shocks. Especially when your leg is straight, your heel, knee and hip, even lower back and neck, are taking shocks that will destroy them eventually.

On the contrary, as shown on the right, when your foot lands below your center of mass, you can use 3 major SPRINGS. Those are the plantar arch, the Achilles’ tendon with the calf muscles, and the thigh muscles. These body parts have evolved over the last million years of human history to absorb shocks, store energy and spring back.

The only spring effect you still have in common between Wumping and Running comes from the Glutes. And even there, when you stand straight (on the right) you have better efficiency that when you bend from the waist (on the left). Even worse, when you bend from the waist, your back muscles are fighting to keep your upper body from falling forward, which can also lead to back pain and injuries.

Finally, if you are not interested in efficiency, you may think that shoes can protect you from the shockwave of heel-striking. Take a look at the movie on the left. Even with high-heel super-thick crash-pad shoes, you still have a peak of shockwave. You do not see this peak on the movie on the right, when the same runner lands below his center of mass, using his leg properly, even when barefoot. Of course, you can wear shoes with 5 cm of foam. They may absorb most of the shockwave, but it is not exactly running anymore.

So you have 2 main reasons to quit wumping and start running: Efficiency and Prevention of injuries. If you think you are fast enough, or are not yet injured, you may not need to quit wumping. However, if you want to run faster and stay away from injuries, or are already slow and injured like myself, you have no choice but to run correctly.

It is all about being gentle with your body. Use this wonderful body design gently, trying to be as light as a feather when you touch the ground. You will re-discover your body and how your leg muscles are designed to work. Click here to the Guide To Natural Running.

And combine Efficiency and Gentleness for a long life of injury-free running.

Here is a movie of one of my medical students who is NOT a regular runner. When asked to run barefoot, you can see that she is using the correct running technique, naturally, as barefoot running is the best way to avoid wumping.

If you want to quit wumping and learn running

Click here

If you want to learn

gentle barefoot running

Click here