We’re going to start by asking a question:

“When training for an endurance event which is most important: Mileage or Technique?”

They’re both very important aspects of run training and it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to reach high mileage without a decent level of technique. But why is it that most of us spend very little or no time at all practicing running technique?

“Good Technique”

There are plenty of good runners out there who don’t have the best technique.  If you’ve run for years and picked up a few bad habits along the way, you’ll find your body has adapted to these. But even for elite level and lifelong runners, by working on technique you’ll be able to run more efficiently, thus becoming more “economical” runners. So what is a good running technique?

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Dissecting the Running Gait

One of the biggest things that makes us run more efficiently is spending less time on the ground. The longer your foot is in contact with the ground the more drag you get, this will be increased further if you land with your foot too far ahead of you. This can be improved by increasing your leg speed (cadence) and heel lift, whilst also improving your landing technique. Cadence can be increased by developing and speeding up your arm action, this is because your arm movements are directly linked to your leg movements. Heel lift can be developed by working on specific exercises which improve glute and hamstring activation, and landing technique can be developed by using specific footwork and plyometric exercises.

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Running Technique and Injury Risk

There is a very close link between running technique and injuries. Over striding and landing with a heel strike can be linked with anterior knee pain, ITB syndrome, and shin splints. Landing in a plantarflexed position (with a pointed foot) will increase the load on the achilles tendon, which may lead to a tendinopathy. Too much “hip drop” in the stance phase can be linked to medial knee pain and tibial stress syndrome. We could go on! Here’s the good news though, we’re confident that by spending a bit of time developing your running technique you are a lot less likely to get injured.
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The Warm Up

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Next time you lace up your trainers for a run, stop before you hit the road, spend a few minutes warming-up. Make sure your warm-up includes some technique drills, such as “high heels”, “fast feet”, and “running arms”, to help reinforce a good running technique. Sometimes your running muscles can become “sleepy” throughout the day, wake them up with a good, thorough warm-up!

Gait Analysis

A great way to start developing your running technique is to have a Gait Analysis. A Gait Analysis involves running on a treadmill whilst being recorded from multiple angles with high frame rate cameras. The recording is replayed and analysed in slow motion. Frames are frozen at specific points of interest. Your gait will be analysed throughout the session, highlighting any corrections that need to be made. This gives you a unique opportunity to see yourself in action.
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Optimal Movement can support you in the process of transforming and optimising your gait to improve your performance and reduce injury risk. For more information please get in touch!