Everyday, we command our bodies to perform thousands of automatic movements. We want to move with grace and efficiency, yet, many of us lack proper dialogue with our skeletal and muscular systems.
For most people running is a naturally acquired skill. That being the case, why don’t we all run the same way? Why so many different running styles?
Before our discussion begins, you need to do your homework.
1. Go to a busy road running area, such as Central Park in New York City and observe at least 5 distinctly different running styles. Pay attention to the lower and upper body. See what part of the runner’s foot hits the ground first.
2. Visualize each running style with your eyes closed and give each style a nickname, or a buzz word.
3. Prepare a short verbal description of each running technique, that you’ve observed.
This exercise will open your mind to observing and analyzing bodies in motion. You will realize your own running style is unique. To increase the efficiency of your running you must focus on the sensory information flowing from the bones, joints and muscles to your brain and then process this information to self adjust.
While analyzing running, we need to acknowledge that there are runners with anatomical restrictions, therefor their technique can not be corrected (example: a person with “knocked” knees will always have a technique specific to that person). It’s the movement expert’s responsibility, to separate reformable errors from those that are impossible to change.
The entire process of redesigning one’s running technique is more intellectual, than it is physical. It’s reversed engineering, that requires patience and mental flexibility. I never hand my students a list of errors to be corrected on their own. Instead, I teach them how to perform and think at the same time. PRACTICE it’s our new word for training. PRACTICE is conscious training, where people develop better dialogue between their brains and bodies.
Top Of The Head
Moving along the sinusoid of a very low amplitude (as close to a straight line as possible).
Following the sinusoid of a high amplitude. Running is a linear forward motion and mixing it up with a vertical component is a waste of your energy.
Keeping it long and neutral.
Flexing (looking down). Extending (looking at the sky above you). “Poked neck” position. You will compress your discs and the position of your head will affect your entire running posture.
Pushing back and down.
Rounding your shoulders. It decreases your lung capacity and interferes with healthy spinal curvature. Shrugging your shoulders. It builds tension in your neck and middle back.
Depressing with inferior anterior tilt.
Remove: Elevating with inferior posterior tilt. It builds tension in your shoulders, neck and middle back, decreases lung capacity and reduces healthy spinal curvature. Abducting. It rounds your upper back and interferes with proper running position.
Keeping it out/pushed forward.
Collapsing your chest. It will decrease your lung capacity and compromise healthy spinal curvature.
Keeping it neutral or rotating 2-3 degrees externally. 3-4 degrees of Flexing/Extending in the shoulder joint. Additional forward/backward humerus movement should be a product of your spinal rotation.
Rotating internally. Your forearms will cross the mid line of your body and your spinal rotation will become too much of a “screw” motion interfering with your forward motion. Flexing/Extending (swinging forward and backward) excessively. It will cause shifts of your center of gravity and compete with the efficiency of forward motion.
Extending 90- 130 degrees.
Flexing less than 90 degrees. It will reduce the blood flow to your forearm, hand and fingers and make your fingers and hand feel numb and uncomfortable. Flexing more than 85 degrees. It will make your forearm swing upward, causing conflict with forward motion. It will also cause tension in your arm/shoulder, related to biceps contraction.
Relaxing your hand and fingers. It will help you to keep your entire upper body relaxed, adding fluidity to your run.
Flexing your fingers and making a fist. It will cause tension running all the way up to your upper trapezoids and diminish the freedom of your movement.
Flexing 2-3 degrees forward from the bottom of your lumbar region. Stretching your spine long throughout its entire length. Rotating 15-20 degrees. Relax your upper body and the amount of rotation should take place naturally.
Keeping torso upward, or leaning it backward. You no longer support the forward motion of your legs by shifting your center of gravity into the direction of your run. Collapsing/compressing your spine. Healthy spine position is essential while engaging in highly repetitive routines. It will also decrease the ability of abdominal wall muscles to pull the pelvis up to a forward pelvic tilt. Locking your spine and preventing rotation. Spinal rotation is a natural way of generating healthy running momentum.
Tilting your pelvis forward (pushing your belly button toward your spine). Do it by engaging abdomen wall muscles. It will suspend your heavy pelvis structure and allow your legs to perform with greater freedom.
Tilting your pelvis backward, or keeping it neutral. It will push your pelvis down and increase amount of downward force transferred to your hips, knees and ankle joints. Your stride will become more loaded. Your lower back will be working harder throughout the entire run.
Flexing and extending only.
Any internal or external rotation. It will extend the time between your strides, make you slower and less efficient.
Moving only in a sagittal plain. The distance between your R & L knees and R & L ankles should always remain constant throughout the running cycle.
Any additional movements, that would change the distance between your R & L knees or R & L ankles throughout the running cycle. This will not only lower the efficiency of your run, but may also lead to injury.
The space between your feet should be close to the width of your femurs proximal heads.* While striding, your feet should be as little externally rotated as possible. Hit the ground with the ball of your foot first. At take off, roll through your big toe as much as possible.
Striding too close to the mid line of your body. It will reduce the power of your take off and put more strain on multiple areas of your body. Excessively externally rotated feet. It will lower the length of each running step, reduce the power of your stride and put more strain on your joints. The heel hits the ground first. With every single step you apply brakes to your forward motion and send shock waves running from your heel to the base of your scull.
We ended up with 13 body markings. You won’t be able to simultaneously wrap your brain around all 13 aspects at the same time. Remember, it takes patience and mental flexibility to make your run healthier and more efficient. Beginners can simplify things a little.
Upper body: Lean your tors 2-3 degrees forward and maintain perfect posture. Most people know what perfect posture is and this tip should be a good start.
Lower body: Pay attention to your stride. Hit the ground with the ball of your foot first.
Kick off your PRACTICE, focusing on the errors, that are easier to understand. Start going up the ladder until you tackle on the smallest nuances of your running. For additional training tips contact YOU.ARE.THE.GYM® Movement Lab @ Christof@thegymdesign.com.
- It doesn’t apply to people with large Q angle