“I’ve got legs, I can run…” Nobody has actually said that to me but I bet that’s what many are thinking! For some reason we never think about HOW to run. We learn to swim. We learn to swing a bat or a racquet in the most optimal, efficient manner; why not learn to run? There are statistics thrown about all the time- 80% of runners are injured every year. 80%?! That must be bigger than some of the more dangerous full-contact sports. Would you let your kids run if you knew those injury statistics?
Unlike some of those full-contact sports, I’ve never felt like someone was trying to hit me while running so we have to assume that the high injury rate is due to inefficient movement. In the last 5 years while teaching running technique I have come to the conclusion that running efficiently will significantly reduce the risk of injury. In 2010 I learned the Pose Method of Running and since 2013 I have not had a single running injury- a far cry from the one or two I had each year leading up to that.
So what is Running Technique?
- Efficient Movement
When swimming there are ways to travel through the water that are smoother than others. Hydrodynamics play a large part in that, and so does the range of motion and direction our body can twist and turn. Despite aerodynamics being less impactful than hydrodynamics, the way we move while running is still important.
To minimise unnecessary movement we need to ensure our limbs travel in the shortest path between starting position and ending position. This means we can eliminate any unnecessary kick out the back or overstriding to the front.
- Using Stronger, More Resilient Muscle Groups
Quite often runners will swing their leg forward using a small amount of quadriceps, but mostly the hip flexor. While powerful, the hip flexor is tiny and will wear out quicky. Changing your running technique to capitalise on the strength and size of the posterior chain (hamstrings and glutes) you will get a greater endurance and greater strength from these muscles, leading to running further and faster.
- Minimising Effort Required to Propel Forwards
It’s a common trait for runners to want to ‘push off’. That forward leap propels us forward, and in certain circumstances that’s very useful. But what if you could get your body weight in front of you and FALL forward, with no effort required? In some circumstances that is a better strategy for saving energy. Obviously if you’re racing a shorter distance and you can sustain the power required, you still want to push off, but why not lean forward as well? Then you can also use the free speed that comes with a forward lean.
- Minimising Stress/ Impact on the Body
Placing your foot out in front of you is a braking force. It not only slows you down but also pushes shockwaves through your foot, ankle, knee, hips and lower back. These shockwaves are up to 6 times your bodyweight. By shortening your stride and dropping your foot below your centre of mass you reduce the braking force and allow your foot to move in a way that disperses the impact. If you’re currently a heel striker, take your shoes off and run for 20m to see the way you naturally change your stride length. There is no suspension in your heels. The arch of your foot is a natural suspension and can help you reduce the impact of running.
- A Standard to which you can Assess Quality
When you run to a system you can assess the quality of that system. If no thought goes into the way in which you run, then no thought will go into the quality to which you run. When you aim to move the same way each time you can determine to what degree of success each movement was made. Drills can then be added to help you move efficiently each time and this will make running efficiently second nature to you.
If you would like help applying these techniques to your run, book a one-on-one face-to-face session today.