Is there a perfect running technique we should be striding for?
Is there a perfect running style we should be striding for?
Running is a great, accessible way to get moving, build fitness and improve health and wellbeing. It definitely proved popular throughout lockdown whilst other sports and activities were restrcited. But how much thought should we give to our form?
Should we think about our posture? Are you heel striking, or landing on your midfoot or forefoot? Do you over-pronate?
Essentially, everyone will run differently depending on how their body wants to move. Due to your individual biomechanics, your optimal running technique is unlikely to be the same as anybody else’s. So do what feels comfortable.
1) Load management
Spikes in load, where we increase too much too soon, can increase our susceptibility to injury due to the load capacity of the tissues, such as muscles, ligaments, tendons, being exceeded by the load placed upon them. For example, going from running once or twice per week to running five times per week.
Ideally, to aim to avoid injury, we should be aiming to gradually increase our weekly load by 10%. Whether that is distance, frequency, speed or time.
Try to ensure you are giving your body the best chance and environment to cope with, and adapt to the demands of the training loads you are placing upon it.
Sleep – Aim for seven to nine hours per night to allow your body enough time to recover, repair and adapt.
Nutrition – Give your body the right fuel before and after physical exercise. Adequate energy consumption, protein intake and replenishment of fluids will encourage optimal recovery and adaptation.
3) Strength work
Aim to integrate two to three resistance-based sessions into your training. This will not only help to decrease your injury risk but improve your performance. Increasing the tolerance and strength of tissues will make them less susceptible to fatigue which can lead to poor mechanics and in turn injury. Getting strong is likely to have a positive carry over to your technique without realising it.
Simple exercises, to begin with, could be lunges, step-ups, split squats, planks, or hollow body holds. Start with bodyweight, and you can gradually build the sets, reps and weight.
4) Small things you can change without drastically changing your running style
If you do the above but find that you are struggling with niggles/pain from running a couple of things you can think about without massively changing your running style are:
Cadence is the number of steps you take per minute. Generally, the shorter your strides, the higher your cadence, the less time you are spending in the air, the less impact there is on landing. These lower forces can mean lower risk of injury. Research suggests we should be aiming for 170-180 steps per minute (SPM), but simply start by gradually increasing your normal step rate.
Sounds simple, but your muscles need oxygen in order to create energy. Keeping your breathing slow and controlled, preferably in through the nose and out through the mouth, can help to maximise oxygen exchange and delay fatigue.
Can we help?
If you are struggling with a running related pain or injury, try not to run through it, get it checked. At Injury Active we think it is important to stay task specific, so as well as conducting our usual assessments, actually observing you running allows us to pick up information on where and why the discomfort or pain might be coming about. We can then work to improve movement and symptoms with a variety of techniques individual to you.
In most cases we can find a way to keep you running in some way or another!
Naomi Waldock BSc Hons Sports and Exercise Therapy MSST Naomi@injuryactive.com 07907512139