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Running Form Tips

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Running Form Tips

By  intraining podiatrist, Coaching Director, Level 4 Coach Steve Manning

Running technique is frequently blamed for running injuries.  There are many advocates of a particular way of running.  However, one way of running is not suitable for every runner.  In fact, it can be difficult to identify how technique influences injury risk and running economy.  Even the influence of impact forces on injury risk is often raised but poorly linked.

Your function or the way you run must follow your structure.  That is your innate flexibility and strength will determine the optimum running technique at every speed.  World records and Olympic medals have been won by runners with very different techniques. 

While it is a huge challenge to change your running form with sometimes unknown results that do not mean that it is not worth trying.  For some runners, it can be the reason for their inefficiency or even the direct cause of an injury.  For others, it is a way to get that extra small improvement when they have hit a performance plateau. 

Working on improving your technique should be a small part of a weekly routine.  It can be beneficial to have a three-week phase twice a year where you work on technique.  The intraining Running Form Workshops can help teach you how to get in touch with the way you move.

Why should you change running technique?

  1. Frequent Recurring Injuries. If you have had a series of injuries or an injury that is not resolving then you need to identify whether the technique could be the cause.  Treatment may relieve the symptoms.  But if you are aggravating the tissue every time you come back to running then it may never resolve.
  2. Compensatory Gait. Some injuries may cause muscle atrophy leading to limping and a change in muscle function.  This compensatory running style can lead to overuse and a secondary injury.  That is why it is important to have a thorough rehab program after the injury to build back both strength and recruitment of muscles.
  3. Efficiency. Running technique should change depending on your speed and target distance.  If you use a long-distance running shuffle technique while trying to sprint or run fast over hills then you will increase your injury risk by losing mechanical advantage at the joints.  At the same time, a powerful bouncy gait may be very inefficient for longer distances.

Tips on changing your running form.

There are 5 strategies to consider:

Understand the mechanics of the change you are trying to achieve. 

If you change the position of one joint then it will have repercussions all the way through the kinetic chain.  It can sometimes be better to work on gaining coordination and control before trying to make a major change to technique.

If you want to move to more of a forefoot striking technique then you will need to build up the strength of your tendons and connective tissue.  As you shift where the forces are being absorbed your bones will begin to remodel and may be more susceptible to stress and stress fractures. 

Give yourself 6 to 8 weeks of regular formwork to develop enough strength to run with a new running style.  Try not to push it too soon as you will likely break down

With any new exercise, you attempt it is possible to have too much of a good thing.  10 minutes of exercises two or three times a week can be enough to start you on a running form revolution.  If you decide to do 30 minutes of drills every day then it will not last. 

If you think you may have a running fault then try to work on fixing that problem rather than trying to change everything at once.  It is hard enough to make one change.  Fixing too many things will dilute your focus and reduce your chance of success.

Changing the running technique is a huge challenge but can sometimes pay off in a big way.  Of critical importance is knowing what you may be doing wrong before you try and fix it.  It may not be the thing that you thought was wrong.  If you are unsure then book into the intraining Running Injury Clinic for an assessment or come along to one of the intraining Running Centres Running Form Workshops.

Watch out for our next issue which looks at what factors to consider. 

Save the date: 

Saturday 14th October for intraining Running Form Workshop… You will be able to book in soon.  

Book an Appointment Here