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Natural Running Coaching Terminology | Natural Running Coaching
NRC Terminology

Here is a list of definitions for terms that are often used on the Natural Running Coaching website. If there’s a term you would like added to the list, feel free to leave a comment below and we can add it to the list.

Anterior – An anatomical direction defined by nearer the front.

Barefoot – A term used when not wearing any shoes.

Barefoot Shoes – A popular oxymoron used as a marketing term for minimalist shoes.

Biomechanics – The study of the forces involved in living movement (kinetics) and the shapes produced by those forces (kinematics).

Cadence – In terms of running, cadence is the number of times the feet hit the ground in a certain amount of time. Also known as ‘stride rate’.

Centre of Gravity (COG) – The point of the body where the weight can be considered to be concentrated and balanced.

Conventional Shoes – Footwear that do not allow the feet and body to move naturally and feel the ground. They generally have a large degree of cushioning, a heel rise, arch support, and/or a foot constricting design.

Cushioned Shoe – Footwear that is made with an impact absorbing material in the sole.

Foot Strike – The way in which the foot contacts the ground characterized by the area of the foot that contacts the ground first, including heel, forefoot, or midfoot.

Forefoot Landing/Striking – A stride that lands with the forefoot first.

Heel Rise – The difference in height in the sole of a shoe between the forefoot and the heel.

Heel Striking – A stride that lands with the heel first.

Impact Transient – A sudden spike in impact forces measured by ground reaction force over time. A characteristic of running observed when the heel contacts the ground first with a non-elastic collision.

Kinematics – The shapes produced by the forces involved in movement.

Kinetics – The forces involved in movement.

Lateral – An anatomical direction defined by further from the midline.

Medial – An anatomical direction defined by nearer the middle of the body.

Metatarsals – The long bones of the feet between the toes (or phalanges) and the tarsal bones. Numbered 1 through 5 from medial (inside) to lateral (outside).

Midfoot Landing – A stride that lands flat-footed at an angle where neither the heel nor forefoot touches the ground first before the other.

Minimalist Shoes – Footwear that allows the feet to move naturally and feel the ground, provides no arch support and minimal cushioning, and doesn’t affect the body’s centre of gravity or posture (meaning no heel rise).

Natural Running – A form of running that maximizes running efficiency and minimizes injury based on human biomechanics that is characterized by an upright posture, a cadence of 180 strides per minute, and a forefoot landing between the 1st and 2nd metatarsals.

Overstride – A stride that lands in front of the body’s centre of gravity.

Posterior – An anatomical direction defined by nearer the back.

Posture – Optimal segmental alignment in the gravitational field and the reduction of unnecessary levers in the movement system. Good posture means being balanced with as little muscle action as possible.

Proprioception – The body’s sense of position, balance, and movement. Our bodies’ biofeedback system that tells our brains how we are moving our bodies through space and time. A large part of that biofeedback information is provided by our contact with the ground through our feet.

Running Economy – A measure of running efficiency defined by the amount of oxygen required to maintain a given pace and expressed as the rate of oxygen consumption per distance covered.

Running Efficiency – The amount of energy required to run a certain distance at a given pace.

Stack Height – The height of the sole of a shoe, which may be different between the forefoot and the heel.

Stride Length – The distance between your right foot and left foot contacting the ground during a single step.

Stride Rate – See ‘Cadence’.

Trail Leg – The leg that is behind the body or trails the front leg during a stride.

Transition Shoes – Footwear that have some features of conventional shoes that preclude them from being true minimalist shoes. For example, they have a heel rise, arch support, and/or no ground feel and can be used to gradually progress to a minimalist shoe.

Zero Drop – Footwear that has a uniform sole thickness at the forefoot and heel, meaning no heel rise.

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