Nick Adkins, one of our Exercise Physiologists, recently attended a course on running technique and the importance of bio mechanics to improve running gait. Many people want to run and so they give running a go, however they usually will not have had proper training or technique focus and therefore injury usually occurs. The way in which we run is very important and this is dependent on a number of different factors for example strength, mobility, cardiovascular fitness and technique.
Overall, if you improve your bodies efficiency in running you will be able to run further and faster!
So how should we be running? E.g. forefoot vs. heel strike
Interestingly, the hype over barefoot running has caused much controversy over the last few years and according to Dr. Christian Barton the optimal foot strike is actually highly dependent on the patient’s injuries and current abilities. Forefoot running is technically more ideal (if done correctly) because there is less load through the joints due to better weight distribution when landing compared to heel striking. However, many people trial running in a way that their bodies are unable to cope with such as barefoot running which predominately will force you to run on your toes. This ‘fad’ is great if you have the right bio mechanics for barefoot running and have good strength, mobility and technique. If you don’t you will pull up sore or provoke an injury.
When teaching people to run it is best to assess their overall strength and current running gait and then put together an integrated exercise program that not only includes strength training but specifically breaks down the running technique and educates them for a long term change.
Overall there is no ‘one size fits all’ for running technique it’s actually best to prescribe a program that suits the particular person. For example forefoot strike is much better for knee pathologies as there is less load distributed through the knee but more work through the ankle, however heel strike is better for patients with Achilles pain or plantar fasciitis yet is harder on the knees. If you think about it no one is there to show us how to walk and run properly as toddlers and so we have all developed different ways in which we move. This is why an individual, structured program that includes strengthening as well as education on how our joints should specifically move is the best way to transition to running or improve current running. Even minor changes to technique can have a drastic effect on performance and injury prevention.
We will be going over some practical applications next week. If you have an interest in running we may be assessing your running gait during your sessions over the next few weeks!
Article by Beth Chiuchiarelli, Exercise Physiologist at MD Health
Running is a popular form of exercise to improve cardiovascular fitness and is performed by a wide range of people. Here at MD Health we often see clients who have injuries from trying to return to running or after completing large amounts of running without appropriate preparation. Here are some handy tips to prevent injuries for people who are preparing to run a marathon, half marathon, their first 5km run or even those looking to just give it a go for the first time.
Select Appropriate Footwear
It is important to consider the type of shoe you will be wearing when running to ensure it is appropriate for your foot type and running style. For example if your feet are somewhat flat and pronated, you may require a shoe with more support through the arch, or if your foot posture is quite normal you may be able to run in a shoe with little structural support. Running in a shoe which is not suitable can lead to many injuries including plantar fasciitis, shin splints and knee pain. Ideally you can get this checked by a qualified professional such as a sports podiatrist who can guide you towards selecting an appropriate shoe rather than just choosing the shoe which looks the nicest!
Manage Your Training Load
Monitoring your training load is important to continually improve towards your goals but also to ensure that you are not over training and placing yourself at risk of over-use injuries which we often see in recreational and competitive runners. For someone just starting regular running, intervals of jogging then walking is a good way to ease your body into running and then gradually increase the jogging time vs the walking time until you can run a certain distance continuously. For the recreational or competitive runner training for a 10km fun run or marathon event, slowly building up your training load and recording your distance, time and how you felt after each run is a good way to monitor for any signs of over-training during your preparation.
Strengthen Your Body
Because running is such a repetitive movement, it is important to have adequate strength and endurance in the main muscle groups involved in running. This includes appropriately strengthening your calves, quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes to ensure you have power and strength in these muscles to accelerate. It is also really important to have a good level of pelvic stability to prevent lower back pain when running as there is a lot of pressure on this area when running. This would involve having good strength and control of your glutes and abdominal stabilising muscles.
Quality Over Quantity
Many people think that running for longer periods of time is the best way to increase your fitness. However in the untrained runner this can lead to a lot of injuries as running with poor technique when fatigued can place excessive pressure on the joints of the body including the knees, ankles and hips. It is far better to run with good technique at a slightly higher intensity for a shorter period of time as you will not only use more calories but also reduce your risk of injury by not excessively loading your joints.
Written By Jack Hickey Exercise Physiologist at MD Health Pilates