Running is something that the vast majority of us have done at some point in our life, whether that be playing in the playground to running competitively. What sets it apart from every other sport is that there is this assumed knowledge that everyone knows how to run.
Compare it to the other childhood skills such as reading, writing, riding a bike, and swimming. All of these are complex skills that require a degree of practice and rehearsal before mastering. Very few people take the time to master their running mechanics although there is clear evidence that there can be significant performance outcomes in running velocity, economy, and efficiency. As well as this, there are certain biomechanical traits that can increase your risk of certain types of injuries.
Each and every one of us are individuals and we will all have our own unique ways of doing things dependent on our physical make up and abilities. For example a flexible person may be able to touch the ground without bending their knees. Peoples strength, flexibility, bone and joint geometry, tissue compliance, and neural control will all alter the way that someone performs a task. For this reason when looking at runners, even at the top end, there are unique characteristics that set apart two different runners as a means of finding their own most efficient pattern.
BUT there are characteristics that are common among faster runners that separate them from slower runners. Such as shin angles, vertical force projection into the ground (horizontal if accelerating), swing mechanics, and lower limb stiffness. This is what is trainable.
Therefore just as a golfer will spend countless hours practicing their golf swing so as they can lower their handicap, why don’t we refine and perfect our running technique so we can run faster and perform better? Whether it is for your next fun run, for your speed and endurance within ball sports, or you’re rehabilitating from an injury and trying to remaster the movement patterns, it makes a lot of sense, and while you’re at it you might find you get rid of those recurrent niggles and find greater enjoyment in running.
Article by Kevin Craigie.