Finding your form
What does form really tell us and how can it help us get to where we going faster and more efficiently?
When assessing an athlete’s running style, we typically look at toe-knee-hip-hand-shoulder alignment. Do not underestimate the power of the mind though as head position will determine where and what the rest of the body will be doing during a run.
Head carriage should be neutral. The chin should line up with the breastbone and be parallel with the ground. Dropping the chin down (leaning forwards) will over stretch the top of the shoulders and lead to lengthening of the neck muscles – you will experience headaches, heavy head feeling and upper and lower back pain. And most probably run into poles or people.
Shoulders are to be relaxed and open. Hunching into the shoulders will close up the chest which affects breathing and arm movement. Think neck pain, tight shoulders and early fatigue. Relax your shoulders by tucking your elbows into your sides and keeping your hands on either side of your belly button. Your arm swing should coincide with heel strike to ensure your abdomen is rotating naturally. If this doesn’t happen, you will start to experience lower back pain and tight hips.
Be careful of lifting your toes or forefoot to move your legs. This often leads to shin splints and tight ankle joints (a primary cause of knee pain in long distance running). The more accurate way of striking is to lift your knee and let your foot follow. This becomes important when you want to manipulate your pace.
Why this way you may ask… well to put it simply, this is the most efficient way of running. From this position, you are able to control pace and power with very little effort. To increase pace, you will move your arms faster and to increase power or change your stride length, you will lift the knees higher.
Falling outside of these ‘lines’ leads to compensation in one or more parts of the body. The next time you watch Bolt run his 100m, look at his chin, hands, elbows and knees. Sprinters typically pull themselves forwards so they have outstretched arms, forward thrown shoulders and very high knee movements. This kind of technique can only be maintained for a short period as the body works too hard when levers are longer. Endurance runners maintain an upright torso with a neutral pelvis and head position on either end of the trunk, it will take some getting used to but it will become your preferred position.
If you have any questions regarding running or have any running injuries call on 01279 414 959 or book online: https://www.zesty.co.uk/practices/mike-varney-physiotherapy
Did you know we are holding a FREE Running Clinic on Saturday 9th March? Come along for FREE talks, FREE injury assessments, FREE massage, FREE stretching demonstration, FREE goodie bags and MUCH more! Sign up here: https://mailchi.mp/mikevarneyphysio/runningclinic2019