I know what you are thinking: Doesn’t everyone know how to run? Your body just knows what to do. You don’t need to “learn how to run”.
Recent research actually says no and that many of us would benefit from fine-tuning our running style and technique, especially those of us who weren’t blessed with a stealth-like natural running body. Do you know those people who cruise into the finish line first at races looking like they were made to run? They may be fine to continue on with what they are doing, but for the rest of us, here are a few reasons why revamping our style is a worthwhile endeavour.
1. Improved Performance
When we look at high-level runners, there are usually a few things they have in common: their cadence (steps per minute) is higher, they run lighter on their feet, and they tend to have less vertical and horizontal displacement. All of these factors add up to being more efficient. Efficiency is most important when we push ourselves harder, such as during a race situation when we are increasing intensity or distance. Learning to run more efficiently can equate to better management of fatigue and improved performance on race day.
2. Recurring injuries in the hips or knees
Running shoe design in the past has encouraged a heel-strike gait pattern.1, 2 This type of running technique places more stress on the hips and knees and may result in a higher risk of injury in these areas of the body. The selection of running shoes available has changed a lot in recent years, with many options for runners to choose from. If you suffer from ongoing issues in the hips and knees, it may be worthwhile to consider transitioning into a less cushioned shoe and learning how to run more on your mid and forefoot in order to decrease the forces in the larger joints of your body.3
Running is hard on your body and all of us will need to give it up one day, right? Maybe not. If learning to run more efficiently and changing our running gait pattern equates to less stress on the knees and hips, then it may be possible to run longer and later into our lives than we have traditionally thought possible. How many people have you heard say “I had to give up running, my knees just wouldn’t take it anymore.” As a physiotherapist, this is the most common phrase I’ve heard from clients who say they “can’t” run anymore.
Interested in learning more?
- Chambon et al. The Effect of Shoe Drop on Running Pattern. Computer Methods in Biomechanics and Biomedical Engineering, 2013. Vol. 1, No S1, 97-98.
- Liberman et al. Foot Strike Patterns and Collision Forces in Habitually Barefoot Versus Shod Runners. Nature 2010 Jan 28; 463(7280): 531-5.
- Daoud et al. Foot Strike and Injury Rates in Endurance Runners: A Retrospective Study. Official Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine. 1325-1334. http//www.acsm-msse.org.
- The Running Clinic. http://www.therunningclinic.com/