This describes where the runner spends most of the time. Front end as suggested is with the legs in front of the body and rear, behind the body. A number of runners believe that to enhance performance they need to push the foot behind them. This is only true for sprinting activites, where you are trying to generate as much force as possible with each step. For middle and long distance running the method is very different, as after 4 to 5 strides you are at the pace you want to run, the effort at this point is not generating force but efficiently utilising the force you already have. Time spent on the ground is wasted energy, time spent with your thighs behind you is misdirected force. Unhelpful rotational and sideways motions are “energy leaks”. All these factors will restrict your performance and may lead to injury.
Efficiency is key
Lots of people have varied running styles, you only need to visit a park run on a Saturday morning to witness this. And runners can achieve amazing times with their technique. However, Elite athletes all have very similar characteristics to the way they run. The goal is to find a happy middle ground. There are a number of ways to improve, one is to get stronger, the other is running technique, ideally you should work on both.
To be strong and mechanically efficient
There are a number of approaches to running and there are different techniques for the length of run you are training for. There are also different techniques for the terrain you are on and whether going up or down hill. There is too much to talk about in this brief article but please see below for how we approach running with an athlete we have worked with.
A number of runners are not strong enough to perform the changes necessary. Therefore as a starting point, all runners are assessed for strength deficits. We have video exercises in our Patient Portal that we will give you to assess your strength and symmetry. If you prefer, our in-house Strength and Rehab Coach can take you through this assessment. This give us baseline figures of where you are. Should you have and strength defecits, you will be placed on a strength-training programme. Invariably when we see runners who have had recurrent injury and lots of treatment, the underlying issues are strength related. Failing to address this will have a direct impact on your ability to achieve the best running mechanics for you and therefore prevent injury.
Case Example Miss X;
On our initial running analysis, it became obvious that Miss X leaned forwards, had very little knee lift and therefore did not generate much force through her hips. This reduced her efficiency.
We worked through her technique by giving some prompts and drills to alter her technique. This is videod every time so we can reassess immediately the changes achieved. We can also then talk you through the process so that you understand your pattern. Our approach is to give you the minimal intervention that will achieve the required results.
During this process, it became evident that Miss X was weak in the frontal plane and tended to drop her pelvis when she landed on her right leg. This meant that she required some specific strengthening to prevent this and get into the appropriate positions for running. We covered the exercises relevant to her injury for her to work on. As well as covering these in session, we have videos in our Patient Portal for reference.
After 2 weeks of strengthening with these exercises, Miss X was re-assessed. Like most of the athletes we treat, they are very driven and studious so she returned in very good shape and able to run (with some prompts) like the second video shows
You can see that she is now more upright, she has a greater knee lift which then allows her to use the more powerful hip muscles, she also lands with her feet more under her body which helps to maintain momentum.
If your feet land in front of your body they act as a braking force, not ideal if you want to run efficiently. But could also be the cause of your knee pain as you are performing thousands of single-leg squats with every run.
We hope this has been useful and informative. If you would like a Running Mechanics Assessment, please call our Wirral Clinic on 0151 6485000 or call Liverpool on 0151 4275000.