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Bell steps onto TV

By Sara Carson, Orillia Packet & Times

Orillia chiropractor Larry Bell will be featured in an upcoming episode of The Nature of Things, titled The Perfect Runner. It will air March 15 at 8 p.m.

Orillia chiropractor Larry Bell will be featured in an upcoming episode of The Nature of Things, titled The Perfect Runner. It will air March 15 at 8 p.m.

Science is catching up to what an Orillia chiropractor has long believed.

"It's nice that some of these things I have been talking about for 15, 20 years are starting to become recognized," Larry Bell said Friday.

The 60-year-old, who owns Bell Chiropractic and Soft Tissue Centre, will be featured in an upcoming episode of The Nature of Things, a Canadian documentary series.

The episode, titled The Perfect Runner, delves into how humans were designed to run.

"They came in from the anthropological side," Bell said. "I came into it from the sports science or the athletics side."

In 1988, Bell journeyed to Annaba, Africa, to work with athletes at an international track-and-field competition. He noticed the runners wore what is called an African running shoe, which involves taping the toes and metatarsal heads to prevent blistering, Bell said.

"I thought how under-equipped these athletes were, these runners, competing against people with spikes and shoes," he said. "Their feet were rather soft - what I perceived as being soft. They weren't hard and rigid like our feet."

What Bell believed was a disadvantage has been proving otherwise. Those who don't wear shoes avoid issues like bunions or arthritic first toes, he said.

"I didn't realize our feet are the flawed feet," he said. "Shoes go against normal foot function and we create those issues."

At the University of Alberta's Canadian Athletics Coaching Centre and at international track-and-field competitions, Bell teaches athletes how to perform better by adjusting how they use their feet. He goes to Alberta five or six times each year.

"I'm looking at, 'How can I make them jump higher, run faster?' And it comes down to biomechanics."

Anthropologist and The Perfect Runner host Niobe Thompson contacted Bell for the project through the coaching centre.

"Initially, I didn't think I was part of the documentary," Bell said. "I just wanted to give him some background information so he was aware there was quite a difference between how an African foot functions and how our foot functions."

With Bell being one of Canada's foremost sports chiropractors, Thompson wanted him in the show.

In the summer and fall of last year, Bell was filmed and interviewed at the coaching centre.

"They filmed me watching the athletes and treating the athletes and they interviewed me for a couple of hours," Bell said.

The anthropological side explores how Homo sapiens evolved to survive in a changing African landscape.

"We developed an expertise for running and could outrun our food. This is how we survived," Bell said. "This is quite new, this idea."

The documentary airs on CBC television March 15 at 8 p.m.

"I feel quite honoured to be considered to go in it," Bell said. "It is something I believed in and I'm glad there are so many different areas now that are recognizing barefoot function and running."

sara.ross@sunmedia.ca



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