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RUNNING TECHNIQUE – HOW DO YOU MOVE?

Here is a summary of different running techniques and the potential problems that may occur. See if you can work out which one you are or indeed which combination of running types you might fall under.

 

TWISTER
If you are a twister you will find your arms crossing your torso as you run, I like to think of stirring the porridge, and so essentially you end up with more sideways movement than forward motion. Without surprise your legs decide to get in on the act feeling a little left out so they start crossing the mid-line too, twisting this way and that. With you arms going one way and your legs going the other your poor torso ends up rotating left and right to keep up with all this action. These runners think they are doing well as their abs have had a good workout from completing numerous twists.
Injury Risks – your poor low back rotating away like a maniac
Solution – Get your arms moving at the shoulder, not the elbow, and try to get them moving forwards and backwards. Practise standing in front of a mirror, elbows at 90 degrees and move those shoulders. Outside try to do this for a minute at a time to begin with and build it slowly.

 

THUMPER
You may already be aware you find people looking behind themselves to see what is coming when you are running up to them? You will tend to be loud on landing, heavy on the feet and spend a large amount of your time in contact with the ground. You will tend to be over striding significantly which is part of the problem, and will find your knees or quads are tight and tired following a run. Your poor joints they are working so hard to keep you going.
Injury Risks – ankles, knees, hips, shin splints, achilles or ITB syndrome. In fact the way you are running is loading everything very intensely.
Solution – Find a treadmill or, if unable, find a good hill to run up, and work on intervals at above 5% incline, 30 seconds on and 30 seconds off or on the flat. This will help get your legs moving quicker.

 

BOUNCER
Right you may be thinking that you are not a TWISTER or a THUMPER, so shall we take a look at the BOUNCER.
Essentially running is all about going forwards, you do not want to be wasting time and particularly energy going up and down when you are running. It should be smooth and flowing in movement.
You will tend to take longer loopy strides and spend more time going vertically than horizontal, as a result you land and collapse at the knee. The problem here is the downward spiral you are on due to the requirement to bounce back up again to move forwards, this is fine for a kangaroo but not a human.
Injury Risks – Calf tightness and strains, ITB problems and groin issues
Solution – Get the hips doing the work and not the calf so practice your cycling technique. Find a long mirror and stand side onto it. Drag the heel along the ground, lift the heel towards the bum and then drive the knee through. Build speed as you get the motion and repeat for about 2 minutes. Feel the gluts and hamstrings working – that is how it should feel outside when you run.

 

SHUFFLER
So hopefully you know whether or not you are one of the other types of runners but if you still think that you do not fit the styles discussed so far then look at the SHUFFLER.
I hate to say it but you are really closer to a quick walk than a run. Your feet stay close to the ground at all times, with very little foot lift and almost no arm movement – as a result you will not tend to go very fast, although there is plenty of speed in the arm and leg movements. In fact you would probably use more energy doing a good fast walk!
Injury Risks – Quads cramp, ITB issues and kneecap problems
Solution – similar to the BOUNCER you need to cycle better and use the hip region more and the knees less in your technique. Get side onto a mirror and slide the heel back then lift the heel to the bum and drive the knee through and place the foot down at the toes of the standing leg – repeat for two minutes and then do the other leg. Complete this daily and then try to integrate it into your run for 1 minute at a time – build as you feel stronger.

 

SLOW RUNNER
You are the runner who keeps getting overtaken by everyone else, no matter what his or her style looks like. You tell yourself that you are doing something which is better than nothing but let’s see if we can make you more dynamic and build your confidence at the same time.
You unfortunately are probably slower than some people are walking, which is a little soul destroying. In part this is because you are going side to side and up and down, mostly as you are going slowly, but think of the extra distance you are covering doing this and not propelling yourself forwards as would be ideally the case.
Injury Risk – Your ankles, shins, knees and hips are all working hard to keep you going. You may be running slowly but you are adding massive load to these areas and they are suffering.
Solution – Move you arms quicker for a start.

Try this little drill – run with your arms by your side, stuck to your torso, or hands in your pockets. Then run with your arms moving forwards and backwards at the shoulders, elbows at 90 degrees. What do you notice? Easier? Faster? Smoother?

Anyway the drill to practise before you go out to run is in front of the mirror, lightly clenched fist, elbows still and move at the shoulders. Build up the speed as you go, then try to transfer this into your run. Slowly at first for a minute at a time and build as you feel comfortable. You will be surprised how much speed you might pick up.

 

WEEKEND WARRIOR
The runner who really hits the streets hard on the weekend as this is the only time they get to train, and boy do they train hard when they get the chance. It will be intense and probably the same training every weekend. The intense gym and hard running means they get tight across the chest which stops the arms from moving and blocks the kinetic chain.
Injury Risk – the hamstrings get over worked, groin pulls or strains are common and there is a good chance of neck issues due to that tight thoracic region.
Solution – Variation is the spice of life, so try some Pilates, yoga or swimming. Add stretching and core work to your weekly programme and try to spread out your training.

You can try any of the drills from the previous discussions to help put a start on your technique.

 

THE OCTOPUS
A truly unique running style that will make you stand out from the crowd. There is a chance that you may dance in the same way – only an idea, no hard facts on that angle. Anyway essentially each limb is moving independently from the others, the motor control system is turned off. Essentially you have arms and legs going everywhere, however there is no real pattern to the movement and this is the problem.
Injury Risks – my word where to start, the shoulders and neck are stressed, the hips and back are being twisted about and the knees and feet are not sure how they are going to land.
Solution – Try some interval runs so you can build control. Run for a minute then walk for a minute and focus on the arms going forwards and backwards – as previously discussed. Then try the cycling technique and think about the knees going forwards as you run. The key is to build the stamina of the correct technique and not to try and do it all at once for 20 minutes as it is too much.

 

Remember to make the changes slowly to your running technique and remember the strength side of running is so important to maintain form.

 

Enjoy the change in weather and get running. Work hard on your technique changes and do not forget strength work is massively important to be able to maintain good form. Enjoy.