552 Durham Road, Low Fell, NE9 6HX
Running can be a very efficient way of getting fit, controlling weight, blood pressure and stress. However, many people find jogging uncomfortable and leads to knee pains, shin splits and hip pain. Therefore it is important to run with good technique.
Good Running Technique
Many people may consider running to be something that we inherently know, therefore how we run may not seem important because the body should automatically adopt the best method. This far from the truth. Most injuries and discomfort come from using poor technique.
Many runners adopt a style of running where the foot lands on the ground heel first, followed by rolling onto the forefoot and toe, in what is essentially a fast bouncy walk. The heel strike is usually forward of the hip so that the ankle, knee, hip and back have to take the load of the body through the stance phase of the stride.
A good running technique should aim to move the body forward, with minimum effort and the least risk of injury. Tradition footwear has focused on the heel and support of the arch during the impact stage of footstrike.
A possibly safer, less traumatic method of running is the forefoot strike. This involves running on the front of the foot, rather than striking the ground by landing on the heel. The forefoot strike dramatically reduces the shock to the knee, hip and spine compared to a heel strike method.
The classic running injury of shin splits, is likely to be due to the rapid dropping of the forefoot onto the ground after heel strike. The heel strike causes an eccentric contraction of the anterior leg muscles, while taking load, and results in micro tears in the muscles and tendons.
When the forefoot, or barefoot technique is used, the arch of the foot, the calf muscles, the quadriceps and the buttock muscles take up a lot to the impact when the foot strikes the ground. The beauty of the technique is that since the muscles take up the load, the body is able to adapt and become stronger. Within a matter of weeks running can become light and springy without injury.
A word of warning: Initially your leg muscles will be very sore, so do short runs.
Traditional Heel Strike
Notice the shock wave as the heel lands, and the foot flapping down. It travels up through the knee, hip and into the lower spine, stressing cartilage and ligaments
Notice how the calf and thigh muscles take the load when the foot lands. The foot takes weight as it passes under the hip socket.