A study of runners over the past 10 years shows that 2 out of every 3 runners are injured at least once per year. This statistic poses a great challenge to runners. Finding different things that can be done to change this statistic are of paramount importance, or more importantly making sure you are not one of the stastics; is important to you. Until recently most of the focus on running injuries has been on treatment with medicine, therapy and accommodation devices, like orthotics. Now, finally the root of the problem is starting to be exposed: Most people run with a technique that promotes injury! Heel striking. Running is typically viewed as a sport in which the only requirement is a pair of running shoes. Most of us never receive any type of formal running technique education. We are not taught how to run, we teach ourselves and thus develop the wrong running technique. In addition the long standing model of heel striking and rolling forward on the foot to then push off the ground created a whole industry of shoes that promote this un natural and injury prone way of running. The shoes available for runners until recently almost force us to run wrong!
To understand proper running form, we have to understand how gravity works. Gravity is a force, which is placed upon objects on earth. Runners want to use the full effects of gravity to their benefit. In order for the body to use gravity properly we must be in the right position
This means slightly leaning forward. The forces of gravity will allow your body to “free fall”
The runner’s job is to let gravity do its thing and move you forward. Along with gravity, muscle elasticity is a factor, the ability for the runner to use the elasticity is key in utilizing gravity. By pulling the leg off the ground, at a certain cadence we utilize muscle elasticity, this creates an unbalance and allows gravity to propel the body forward. The hamstring are the main muscles used in the pulling motion. Ground reaction, initiates the pulling motion, which creates an unbalance that perpetuates movement.
This type of running as described above will minimize injury, by keeping yourself very light on your feet and allowing gravity to move you forward. The opposite of this type of running is the braking and pushing off, which occurs with heel landing and excessive holding on. Many runners adopt this type of running. There is much more energy utilized in this type of running. Most importantly, this type of running leads to injuries. There are concussive forces that go through the ankle, knee, ITB and hips, every time you brake. Most runners that run this way also push off, which leads to hip, ankle & foot problems.
The key take away from this article is that investing time and energy to improving your running technique is important. There are many ways you can learn; such as books, videos and certified teachers. Running injury free is the key to longevity as a runner.