Running is one of the most popular outdoor training activities in the western world.
1. Inexpensive. You just need a pair of trainers and running apparel.
2. You can do it almost anywhere.
3. It can be done on your own or as a group exercise and can be as social as you want it to be.
4. It can help with creating a healthier lifestyle, losing weight and improving fitness levels.
With so many people getting involved in running it’s no surprise that many become exposed to running injuries. Here’s a summary of different running techniques and the potential problems that may occur. See if you can work out which one (or indeed which combination) of these running types you might be.
If you’re a twister you will find your arms crossing your torso as you run. It’s like stirring porridge – you have more sideways movement than forward motion. No surprise that your legs also want to get in on the act, so they start crossing the mid-line of your body too, twisting this way and that. With your 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: Lower back due to constant rotation
Solution: Get your arms moving at the shoulder, not the elbow and try to get them moving forwards and backwards. Practice standing in front of a mirror, elbows at 90 degrees and move those shoulders. Do this for a minute at a time to begin with and build it slowly.
Do you find people looking behind themselves to see what’s coming when you’re running up to them? You tend to be loud on landing, heavy on the feet and spend a large amount of your time in contact with the ground. You also over-stride and will find your knees or quads are tight and tired following a run. Your poor joints are working very, very 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 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.
OK so you may not be a TWISTER or a THUMPER, but could you be a BOUNCER?
Essentially running is all about going forward, you don’t want to be wasting time and particularly energy going up and down when you are running. It should be smooth and flowing movement. BOUNCERS tend to take longer loopy strides and spend more time going vertically than horizontal, as a result land and collapse at the knee. The problem here is the downward spiral you’re on due to your need to bounce back up again to move forward. 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 bottom and then drive the knee through. Build speed as you perfect the motion and repeat for about two minutes. Feel your glutes and hamstrings working – this is exactly how it should feel during outdoor training.
If you’ve not found your style, then you might be a SHUFFLER.
We hate to say it but you really are 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: Quad cramps, ITB issues and kneecap problems
Solution: Like the BOUNCER you need to cycle better and use the hip region more and the knees less in your technique. Get side on to a mirror and slide the heel back then lift the heel to the bottom 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 fitness programs for one minute at a time and build as you feel stronger.
You’re 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.
Unfortunately you’re 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. Think of the extra distance you are covering by doing this and not propelling yourself forward as would be ideally the case.
Injury Risks: 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 your arms quicker. 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? Also try this in front of the mirror before you go out to run. Lightly clenched your fist, keep elbows still and move at the shoulders. Build up the speed as you go, then try to transfer this into your outdoor fitness programs. 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.
This runner really hits the streets hard at the weekend as this is the only time they get for outdoor fitness. Boy do they train hard when they get the chance! It’s intense and probably the same 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 Risks: 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 outdoor training. You can try any of the drills from the previous sections to help put a start on your technique.
This is a highly original running style that will certainly make you stand out from the crowd. There is a chance that you may dance in the same! Essentially each limb is moving independently from the others, the motor control system is turned off. You have arms and legs going everywhere, however there is no real pattern to the movement and this is the problem.
Injury Risks: The shoulders and neck are stressed, the hips and back are being twisted 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 forward 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’s too much.
Be sure to make the changes slowly to your running technique and remember the strength side of running is so important to maintain form.