Hello and welcome,
As a runner I have had my fair share of injuries and through these injuries I came to question my running technique. Studying human movements and exercise science allowed me to understand firstly what the injured parts were, secondly how to help fix these problems and then finally (and most importantly) how to prevent these injuries from occurring.
Through the years this journey has taken me through many interesting places. I have competed at State and National level since 1997 in middle distance and cross country running. While running I completed 4 years undergraduate study specialising in exercise science, musculoskeletal rehab and motor control. This was followed by working for 2 years at the QAS as a biomechanist working on elite level triathletes for research, improved athlete performance, return to play as well as injury prevention.
To where I am at the moment, working with Peter our Sports Podiatrist, coaches, trainers, physiotherapists and chiropractors to further investigate the mechanism behind injury and methods to prevent and fix them.
As part of this I thought it would be great to share some of my knowledge.
Firstly I would like to stress: Each individual athlete is different. Even among the elite, technique varies and there is no one technique (pose, barefoot, heel striking... etc) to fix all and become the fastest. However there are common factors that can reduce injury and increase performance.
One of the most common injury mechanisms is that of over-striding. This can lead to many impact related injuries.
What is over-striding?
Over-striding is often referred to as "leaving the brake on" because you constantly have a force pushing you back with each step. The foot lands in front of the body creating large impact forces and decreases running efficiency.
Here is an example to illustrate where the foot should ideally land.
If we can imagine in the first image that there is an equal and opposite reaction pushing back from the ground in a backwards direction, either the muscles (calf, hamstrings...) or bones (Ankle, Knee Hip) has to absorb this impact which is often the catalyst for injury. By landing on top of our foot the force is absorbed with the knee and ankle acting as a spring, bending and recoiling to provide optimal efficiency and impact absorption.
if you would like to know if you are over-striding don't hesitate to call and make an appointment to see myself or Pete in store. We are able to provide a full biomechanical assessment with and without video gait analysis to look at basic as well as specific run technique issues.
So how can we fix this?
There are many ways to alter running technique. If you are confident that you are over-striding and would like to try and fix this yourself, some of my key points are:
Think tall - as if someone is pulling a piece of string attached to your head upwards. This activates the glutes and hamstrings and tells them to pull that foot down earlier.
Lean forward - This may seem to counteract the first instruction of standing tall. However if your body is a plank and not a piece of spaghetti it creates that activated core, activated hamstrings and glutes as a framework to "get over" the top of your foot.
The position you are looking for is illustrated above. All of these athletes are up tall and leaning forward with a strong activated core. There are many drills and other components to overstriding and adjusting one may cause something else to occur. So take it slowly and listen to your body.
Stay tuned for more running tips
If you are having persistent pain or injuries, your running technique may be contributing to these problems. To have your running style assessed and for some simple tips to help reduce injury, improve performance and make your runs more fun, make an appointment to see myself or Pete in store.