By Doug Thurston
THE GREAT OUTDOORS RUNNING
Running is a simple activity that requires little learning. But good running form is not innate. There are few devices available to runners to help them improve their running form for increased efficiency and reduced injuries.
A new running grip has been developed by a Rancho Cordova man who says it improves running form. As a long-time runner, I feel like I have refined my form through 20 years of participation. But trying the grips for the first time last week, I can’t deny I felt a difference.
I was tracking straighter and had more balance. When my running path moved from smooth asphalt to a narrow, winding dirt trail, my footing improved when holding the soft, gray grips. I would have never thought something I carried in my hands would have such an effect the way I ran.
Stephen Tamaribuchi, inventor of the e3 grip, is used to reactions like this to his new product. Tamaribuchi developed the e3 after two decades of research and development.
”It’s the only product of its kind on the market,” Tamaribuchi said. ”It’s based on the theory of interactive biomechanics.”
Tamaribuchi, an expert on ergonomics and repetitive stress injuries, said the grip keeps the fingers, thumb, and wrist in a neutral position, resulting in better body control and improved balance. The grip, similar in size and shape to the handles of ski poles, help runners keep their arms closer to their body. That aligns and stabilizes their shoulders and hips to a more efficient position, reducing the probability of injury. They’ve been compared to ortho-tics for the hands.
”Finger and hand positioning have a great effect on the use of muscles in the lower extremities (back and legs),” Tamaribuchi said.
Tamaribuchi said his original inspiration for the product came after he suffered considerable upper body trauma following a series of sports injuries and auto accidents more than 20 years ago.
Following his recovery, his interest in the martial arts blossomed to accupressure and Shiatsu, finger pressure. He has maintained a private practice as an accupressurist. Clients have included tennis great Rod Laver and ballet legend Rudolf Nureyev. He also worked with the Sacramento State football team in the 1980s and with a professional snowboard team in 1997.
It was during his work with athletic and non-athletic clients that he noted a common problem.
”Repetitive motion injuries and many sports injuries come from the same problem of improper alignment and muscle use,” Tamaribuchi said. ”You have to change the mechanics to change the stress on the body and break the injury cycle.”
His grip resulted both from work with athletes and corporate clients such as Apple Computer, Hewlett Packard, and the California Department of Health Services.
Despite page after page of product testimonials from athletes, coaches, and trainers, it has still been hard for Tamaribuchi to get the medical and scientific community to accept the product. Tamaribuchi says a lot of the resistance exists because his product and the concept is so simple.
”I didn’t want to believe it at first,” said Pat Sweeney, the owner of Fleet Feet Sports in Sacramento. ”It sounded too weird that something as simple as holding something in your hand can make a difference. But it does. With the grips, I run straight down the road without thinking about it.”
Sales have been moderate in the first year, and retail outlets are few. Most of his sales come from mail order. The grips retail for $39.95.
”The grips, which weigh about four ounces each, are one size fits all, as palm width varies little by body size,” Tamaribuchi said.
Walkers, hikers, skaters and snowboarders have all bought the grips.
”There’s a strong market for the e3 in physical therapy,” Tamaribuchi said. ”It’s not limited to a single activity.”
Tamaribuchi is currently producing a training program for patient ambulation with several local X-ray and imaging centers in Northern California. His greatest market for the product may be seniors who can use the grip not only for fitness walking but also for better all-around mobility.
For more information on the e3 grip, phone 483-2686 or visit the web site at www.biogrip.com.
DOUG THURSTON is a Sacramento runner and race director. He can be reached at 447-2786 or Runinfo1 @ aol.com
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