Start With Your Big Toe and Get Those Feet Involved for Better Running: Jay Dicharry

If You Want To Compete, Show Up Ready: Jay Dicharry

How much credit do you give to your feet for making you a better runner?  If you are like most of us, those feet get put into shoes and then you just hope they’ll do their job. 

It’s time to rethink the strategic value of those two extremities that connect you to the ground and push you forward with every single step.

Our guest today is Jay Dicharry and Jay is one of the foremost authorities on running bio-mechanics. Jay built his international reputation as an expert in biomechanical analysis as Director of the SPEED Clinic at the University of Virginia, and now as Director of the REP Biomechanics Lab in Bend, OR.  

In this episode, Jay teaches us the difference between Balance and Proprioception and why Proprioception matters so much for running effectively. He also shares with us tools and exercises to retrain our feet to work with us.

He is the founder and CEO of MOBO, a novel product that improves intrinsic foot control and today, Today’s interview will be going over running mechanics and how integral the foot is in the whole process of making running happen.


Questions Jay is asked:

3:22 First Four:

  1. How old are you?
  2. Where were you born?
  3. Where do you live now?
  4. What is your favorite workout? 

5:00 How did you get started in the running business?

7:40 What did you mean by ‘Athletes don’t train their feet like they train the rest of their body’?

9:40 What is ‘reactive balancing’ vs. ‘proprioception’?

13:18 How many injuries that are farther up in the body are directly related to not having the strength and flexibility that we need in our feet?

14:51 What is Big Toe Activation?

18:49 Do wide toe-box shoes help us use our big toes more effectively?

20:26 What is the dynamic that allows big toe activation when running or using your MOBO board and how does it make us faster?

25:07 How is MOBO different from other balance tools?

27:01 How did you determine that a stable surface was more effective than a soft surface?

29:41 What exercises would you do on the board and how would we fit it into our training week?

35:10 What results and improvements have you seen and should we expect by strengthening our big toe?

40:54 What is proprioception vs. balance?

42:28 What do you mean by ‘If you’re going to compete, show up ready’?

45:58 Besides feet, what else do you write about and want people to learn?

53:01 Final Kick Round:

  1. What is your favorite local training run or outing (location, starting point, parking, distance, terrain and safety issues)?
  2. Favorite book(s), video or resource? 
  3. Who or what would you like to have featured on the Run To The Top podcast?


“I think we live in an amazing time where technology can actually finally answer questions aside from just be cool.”

“We can retrain the ability to focus on the feet and to learn and find, and most importantly, feel position. And that’s what we’re trying to get into these days.”

“I use the term ‘Core Stability’ not ‘Core Strength’. Nobody can tell you how strong your core is; what we look at is timing. All the research out there shows that individuals with good core control fire proactively: you stabilize your trunk before you move your arms, before you move your hip, before you take a stride.”

“You’re not just treating a foot and ankle, you’re treating a BODY.”

“If you don’t know how to get your forefoot to work properly to control and stabilize your rear foot and everything else p the chain, THAT’s where you see collapse and breakdown in form.”

“Standing on soft, squishy surfaces not only impairs your balance response, not only is a bad environment to learn from, but actually degrades how quickly we can get off the ground.”


Take a Listen on Your Next Run


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Mentioned in this podcast: 

Run To The Top Winners Circle Facebook Community

RunnersConnect Facebook page


University of Virginia Center for Applied Biomechanics

Article: The Foot Core System by Patrick McKeon, Jay Hertel, Dennis Bramble, Irene Davis

MOBO Board

MOBO Board – Next Level

Jay’s Amazon Author Page

Tumalo Falls Loop

Book: Sports Gene by David Epstein

Video: Jay’s Posture Video

Chris Johnson Gait Analysis Seattle


Follow Jay on:

Jay’s Website

Jay’s Lab – REP Oregon



We really hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of Run to the Top. 

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