By Wei Yng Chua and Richard Todd, Inner West Health Clinic.
Since COVID began, we can all relate to seeing a sudden surge in people outside running – perhaps swapping the treadmill for the road, or just giving it a go for the first time. We had a sudden need to be outside and get fit! However not as many of us are used to doing this and we have also seen a sudden increase within our clinic of running related injuries.
No matter what sort of runner you are or what sort of shoes you wear, good running is all about spreading the load more evenly through your whole body. Here are some simple tips to help you run more efficiently and prevent foot, knee and hip injuries.
Try quiet running – can you run quietly? If you are landing too heavy (stomping the ground), your body has to store all that force somewhere, and this can result in loading up the foot & ankle (including your Achilles), knee and back. Running quietly allows you to utilise the natural spring in your tendons and muscles to recycle the momentum for your next step.
Shorten your stride. Again, we want to lessen our impact on the ground. When you land on your heel, it is a smaller surface area of your foot compared to the ball of the foot and the toes. If you take smaller steps, you can land on your mid or fore foot and then you have access to all your foot muscles and the plantar fascia to act as a spring to propel you forward.
Is your hip over your foot when it lands on the ground? Running, when we slow it down, is essentially alternating single leg balance. If your hip is directly above your landing foot (or near to), then the other leg doesn’t have to push off as hard to take the next step. People who sit all day often end up with tight hip flexors resulting in restricted hip motion and may find that their hip is behind their landing foot when running due to poor hip extension. Proper hip position also helps take the load off the hamstrings and protects them from injury.
Run tall. If your posture sinks with each step, that is more work that your legs have to do to lift you up. No wonder they get sore! Try to remember to look up at the sky or imagine someone is pulling your hair up and back.
Relax your shoulders and swing your arms. If you find that you are tensing through your shoulders, try to straighten up and work on running tall. Arm swing is another clever way our bodies’ store and release energy. The rotation of our chest helps to increase our stride length without using any energy from our lower body.
For more help tailored to your specifics, please get in touch with your osteopath! #innerwesthealthclinic