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Social Media – And Forefoot Running

OK, I am on a new kick: researching forefoot running. You can also see references to barefoot and minimalist running as well as Pose running. I think the following video is excellent at explaining the difference between heel strike and forefoot running as well as providing some simple steps to re-train your running style.

Check out some of the force multipliers below (yeah, I graduated with an engineering degree ;)). It is important to note that when the top left image happens (1) the ankle is cocked, (2) the knee is virtually locked out and (3) there is very little cushion in the heel. The result is a lot of force traveling through the ankle, knee and hip joints. In contrast, the rightmost images show that running on the forefoot reduces the overall force as well as engaging the cushioning of the ball of the foot and knee when the force is at its highest.

There is even a shoe specifically designed for a minimalist approach to running when people do not want to attempt barefoot with all of the possible hazards:

Vibram 5-Fingers (I just bought a pair)

So how does this relate to Social Media? A friend of mine recently commented on my Social Media – Tennis – Defense to Offense post with the following:

…why don’t we go back to what customer service is about and train our staffs to take care of the customer. I believe that we have allowed social media to dumb us down in how we deal with people. We choose to feel threatened by social media and we train to that handicap.

Technology in shoes has come a long way with lots of heel padding and arch support. However, are we effectively “training to a handicap” and dumbing down on what was a perfectly designed foot just because our shoes gradually trained us to run with a heel strike? Technology in social media has come a long way, but do we find ourselves using it as a crutch and losing sight of the original intent of being “social”? Here are my thoughts:

  • Research The Options – I’ve read some contrarian opinions that state heel strike running is fine for most runners. However, I believe in the physiological analysis and choose to pursue forefoot running. You will read differing opinions regarding social media strategy, preferred channels, automation, measuring ROI and who owns your company’s social media efforts. Decide what hybrid approach is best for your company because there is no single right answer.
  • Evaluate Your Style – I’ve seen several video examples where sports medicine clinics will evaluate your running style to see if you need correction. I invite you to evaluate your social media communication style over a timeslice.
    • Were you consistent in both your message and your cadence (frequency of posts)?
    • Did you communicate “offensively with courtesy” or “defensively with debate” with your followers/friends/fans and customers?
    • Did you over-promote products and services, or rely too much on automation, rather than personally building trusted relationships?
  • Take Corrective Action in Baby Steps – If you go try to run your typical 5 miles barefooted…cold turkey…you just might not walk again :)! You are likely to get injured, and that will throw off your entire fitness regimen. Instead, start off walking and running short distances. Regarding corrective action in your social media efforts, it doesn’t have to be a hard reboot. Maintain or ramp-up a consistent presence while focusing on your new fundamentals relative to communication style. Introduce new channels in phases so you can evaluate any additional resourcing required to provide timely content and responses.
  • Monitor Your Progress – In running, you might take a baseline relative to running time, distance or persistent and chronic injuries. You could then see if the new running techniques positively impact those metrics. In social media, take a baseline based upon your current efforts. Determine your metrics based upon your company’s specific needs recognizing you may be jumping the gun if you try to measure bottom line dollars. Start out with measuring engagement and overall mentions. A social media monitoring tool like Pulse Analytics can track your “Supporters and Plays” as well as overall mentions and consumer sentiment over time across multiple social media channels and review/blog sites.

So how many of you are ready to join me in learning how to run barefoot (like the good old days growing up on a river in Texas ;))? How many of you are ready to evaluate your social media strategy and take baby steps to correct while monitoring your progress?

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Brian Vickery

I love my Vickery Girls - and grandsons! My career has blessed me to the point I was able to start a new consultancy in 2018: Analytic Integrity. I look to provide analytic experience, and business integrity, to an Analytics world while helping data-driven organizations mature. I enjoy teaching and coaching, watching football and basketball, and playing tennis. I graduated UT-Austin.

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  1. Brian, I’m so amazed by the darned shoe and it’s mechanics that I don’t even need the SM analogy! Those are the coolest shoes I’ve ever seen! So are they inclined by 3% at the heel to promote stability and the forward motion? The kinesiology of it all….

    • I had seen the shoes in the past, but I didn’t even ask about them. We were at REI before our date, and I started asking a guy about them there. I went ahead and bought a pair because I needed new running shoes, and I knew REI has a great return policy. I didn’t screw up my anniversary weekend by reading about barefoot running, but I sure did a lot of research afterwards. My first two forays are going slow, per their suggestion, and I do have soreness in the calves as I adjust to the forefoot. I’m trying to retrain to the whole Pose method, so it will take some time.

      As for the 3% incline, don’t think so. The soles are truly just for protection from road hazards (some models come more knobby to protect on trail running) and to be non-slip. Any cushioning or stability in the heel would let our bodies think it was safe to go back to a heel strike run.

      I liked the minimalist/retrain analogy with social media, though ;) I appreciate my friend Shawn’s comments regarding “dumbing down” and “training to the handicap”, and I thought it applied to its own topic. It was the same weekend I came across minimalist/barefoot running, so serendipity.

  2. Thanks Brian for both the thoughts on running and the social media incites…

    • Thanks, Bernie. I love the challenge of finding new sports analogies for social media. And you know me and research ;). I’ve watched countless videos and read articles on forefoot/minimalist/pose running lately. Of course, then I have to show Kris and the girls, and they roll their eyes at me (“here he goes again”) ;)