No one teaches us how to run, but there are more efficient ways to use your body when running to reduce the risk of injury, improve efficiency and to improve speed and performance.
So why do we get injured?
The most common type of running injuries are the mechanical overuse type injuries; the type of injury that comes on gradually over time and can be difficult to shift. Injuries such as; Plantar fasciitis, Achillies Tendinopathy, Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (shin splints), Runners knee ( which is a broad, umbrella term used to describe a host of potential knee issues caused by running), lateral hip pain and lower back and sacro-illiac joint pain to name a few.
A common cause of these type of injuries are training load errors. A sudden increase in your training load spikes your acute loading and predisposes you to injury, especially tendon injuries. Tendons do not like a sudden increase in load! A good example being a runner who normally runs 1-2 times a week, then suddenly starts a marathon training plan where they are instructed to run 4-5 x week (almost doubling the training load). Loading should be gradual.
In conjunction with training load errors, insufficient strength and proprioception are big predisposes of injury. The body needs to be conditioned to deal with the forces from running (ground reaction force etc). If the trunk, pelvis and lower limb are not conditioned to do so, injury may occur. Strength training is paramount to running, and the more functional our strength training is, the better conditioned we are. If you think about how many legs we run with? 2 obviously, but you are actually only running on 1 leg at a time, so the better, more conditioned we are on one leg, the better we will be able to deal with forces from running. That’s not to say double leg exercises are bad at all, but my top tip is to include a good and varied amount of single leg exercises in your strength training program.
Lastly, biomechanical/technical faults are often a major contributing factor to running injuries. The way in which we are running could be the root cause of your pain and injury. As we have touched on, there are no right or wrong ways to run, but there are more efficient ways to reduce the loading through the body.
Common technical faults we commonly see in the clinic are; Over striding (a long stride length). The further you land away from your centre of gravity, the more breaking force the body has to deal with to propel itself forward. Reducing your stride length, in conjunction with increasing your cadence, can reduce the breaking force through the lower limb, taking the pressure of your shin and knee. This can also help with reducing your contact time with the ground and reducing the ground reaction force your body has to deal with. This is very important when you are running slower for longer.
One of the most common technical faults we will see is a lack of movement from the upper body! Your arms are very important. They give us speed, rhythm and balance when running; the speed of the arms often dictates the speed of the legs. By using your arms in a forwards and backwards motion (as opposed to crossing over your body or not moving at all), your body has direction to move forwards, it will encourage a little thoracic rotation to help propel your body forwards and can often help increase the cycle motion of the legs and reduce your stride length. Who knew the arms were so important?
As I have said. There are no right or wrong ways, but there are slightly more efficient way to run to reduce the risk of injury, improve efficiency and improve speed!
Keep an eye out for next months post!
GSR and Running Coach