"Running barefoot from childhood gives Kenyans a special strength"
At SPORT we interviewed Doctor Alejandro Bayo, one of the leading experts in sports podiatry in our country and who recently installed an innovative 3D system in his practice to carry out biomechanical studies with almost millimeter precision and which allow much more accurate and tight. He works and has worked with many elite athletes and TOP teams from various disciplines. Among other things, he tells us about Kenyans, their genetics, how running barefoot from a young age strengthens their feet and many other things.
From carrier to being a ‘sick’ of the foot and biomechanics. The twists and turns of life…
I've always been told that I have leftover material to write a book. I used to transport, but as a family we have always had genes for manual therapy. Little by little I drifted towards that, I went through chiromassage, osteopathy and that's when I see that the subject of the foot is neglected. That more than 15 years ago. It is now an emerging sector.
Why precisely the foot?
People are now starting to open their eyes, but no one previously associated that foot support could impact sports performance. When I did the race we were four cats. Now podiatry has evolved into much more than removing calluses and making a template, without detracting from it.
Entering the type of athlete you can treat. Is a footballer more 'unpredictable' than a runner, for example?
Absolutely yes. There is more trauma in a team game. Obviously, a runner can twist an ankle, but injuries are more of the use and end in plantar fasciitis, hip problems, knee pain ... biomechanics interferes a lot there. Theme props and more that can be quickly identified. In a basketball or soccer player, for example, they can be injured doing a jump and falling badly, a snatch that generates a muscle breakdown. Also here the player already comes when in the recovery of the sprain for example he does not find this improvement. There we do take into account the position in which he plays, type of movements, etc.
It depends a lot on the player profile.
Many factors influence. It is not the same a central player who comes out with the ball under control, who comes out more on the cut, than a winger who is ‘dribbling’ like Neymar. Position, skillful foot ... Speaking of 'Ney', by the way, I wrote to you recently.
Yes, he had been closely following the last two serious injuries he had. I'm a bit of a "geek" with these things. I saw the plays repeated over and over and the ankle makes the same strange move in both of them. I decided to write to him on ‘Linkedin’ because I think I know how to correct it.
Is it possible that Neymar uses templates?
It is possible, but I doubt it. I suppose that they have done a biomechanical study already, but it is true that most soccer players are reluctant to use them because they lose a bit of touch, of sensibility, and players like Neymar usually play with boots that are very close to the foot. But not everything ends in templates. There are small stimuli that can be less cumbersome. There are many soccer players with the fifth metatarsal destroyed by the boots that are so tight. There what we do is a slit to the shoe insole so that that toe is lodged lower. I have a project in mind for these fixes that can be quite innovative. More oriented to the elite runner. I spoke the other day with a Spanish who works with Kipchoge in Kenya.
I find the subject of Africans exciting. At the genetic, mentality level. Now you will tell me that they also have different feet than the rest of the world ...
I discussed it with Marc Roig (physio of Kipchoge) recently. The fact that from a young age they are used to running barefoot generates a special strength in their feet. I told him that I had proprioceptive templates in mind that might be interesting to you. I asked him: How do you correct the Kenyans? They have the genetics they have and most runners don't carry templates, but that doesn't mean they don't need certain fixes to improve their performance. The issue of descaling and minimalism deserves a separate mention. Kenyans are light and that strengthens all the internal muscles of the foot.
Then there is the issue of the ‘magic sneakers’, the famous Nike Vaporfly that are setting world records unrestrained…
Excessive cushioning in the foot at the end is counterproductive. We look for very cushioned shoes when the stimulus of the foot is not to remove everything but to do a little stimulation and little cushioning. In the end they end up getting injured, the Kenyans are human, their sports life has an expiration, like that of all the elite.
Now you have installed in the office a new 3D system that can be a revolution for the study of the foot and biomechanics.
It is an infrared camera system that detects the position of a marker in space. It is very intuitive software. We can do lower and upper gear analysis. Once these markers are placed, we put the person on the treadmill and each marker will place a joint in space and capture all its movement in 3D. That generates a drawing, a ‘doll’ to analyze movement. It is instantaneous and provides us with very, very accurate information. The kinematics of each joint structure, arms, trunk, arm stroke, footprint, pelvic vasculature. Everything. It is a beastly advance for the professional.
You already worked with a fairly sophisticated system ...
Sure, I already had a video system to analyze the race that gave me fairly accurate information. In fact, I already have a loyal clientele, elite athletes. I worked for Joventut last year. Honestly I did not need it to earn a living, but what I am looking for in the end is excellence, perfection. Obviously, my wife, who is not from the guild, has had a hard time understanding that now she makes this great expense for something like that ...
Alejandro, do all top-tier teams have specialized podiatrists?
From what I know now they do start working with their own podiatrists, but until recently that figure did not exist in elite teams. A Barça or Madrid do have it, and further down we would be surprised by all those who do not have one because they still do not give it relevance. The player has a hard time internalizing that he must study and be aware of his foot because it can greatly affect his performance on the field or on the court. For example, in the Penya I visited Albert Ventura, Laprovíttola or Todorovic. No one had seen them in preseason. Ventura had been carrying plantar fasciitis all season, we put a correction on him and he gave a brutal change. There is skepticism still