I see people everywhere doing it. They do it in parks, on roads, on the beach and even through the bush. We take it for granted and think that we can all do it. Running is one of those exercises we have all done, even if the last time was in PE classes at school or to run for the bus. If done right, it can have phenomenal health benefits for cardiovascular and fat burning but if done poorly it can be just a world of pain and simply frustrating.

Running is one of those exercises; you either love it or hate it. You can find that some people are built for running and others are just are a disaster waiting to happen. Either from:

  • Lack of exercise over the years (for every extra kilo you are overweight, it is approximately an extra 10 kilos on your knees)
  • Poor biomechanics such as pronation of the feet
  • Lack of mobility in the spine
  • Tightness in muscles due to poor stretching technique or
  • lacking certain nutrients in the body.

Running can be one of the best ways to shed those extra kilos but it is also one of those exercises that if done poorly just leads to injuries. On average approximately 50-70% of runners will experience some form of injury in their career as a runner – either professional, amateur, or just your recreational runner –will be sidelined from weeks to months or even permanently stopped from running for life. And the vast majority of these injuries will be caused by poor running technique, namely heel strike.

Midfoot strike has been shown by Timothy Noakes from the Pose Method of Running, to have 50% less impact from ground reactive forces than a heel striker. This statistic alone should have you as a runner rethink your heel striking and start to try and transition to a midfoot strike.

Heel strikers are normally the main reason why runners will suffer an injury. The main injuries that can be suffered are

  • Shin splints;
  • Stress fractures of the tibia and the neck of the femur (especially women);
  • Heel pain;
  • Achilles tendonitis;
  • Iliotibial Band syndrome;
  • Lower back pain;
  • Knee injuries such as Patellofemoral Tracking Syndrome;
  • Early onset of arthritis/degeneration of the joint from increase impact

Running barefoot, compared to with shoes the individual will naturally start to develop a more midfoot strike, hence leading to improve running technique and less impact on the ankles, knees and hips. Shoes such as the Vibram Five finger promote the feeling of running barefoot and offer some protection to the foot. Other shoes such as Newton shoes are designed in a special way to help the individual transition from a heel strike to midfoot.

If you are going to use traditional runners or shoes, you should have a second pair to rotate the runners around or at least wait 30 hours till you use them next time as it takes this amount of time for the shoe to regain its shock absorption ability. And you should also change your runners about every 800-1000km for the average size build individual. But if you are a heel striker and still remain one this can be every 400-500km.

Other points to consider when running are:

  • Let gravity do the work. Have a slight lean forward and let this propel your body
  • Foot strike should be directly under the hip joint
  • Forefoot strike should be achieved with a slightly flexed knee joint
  • Knee should bend to 90° once the foot leaves the ground;
  • Hands do not cross the midline and bend at the elbow to chest height
  • They do not go beyond the hip (ASIS) and are relaxed like holding a piece of a paper;
  • Shoulders relaxed;
  • Eyes should be looking ahead 20-30 metres;
  • And lastly propulsion should come from hip extension which is optimal use of our gluteus maximus muscle

After running it is normal for us to experience muscle soreness in certain muscles due to the fact they are working. If form and biomechanics is good, then usually the area of soreness can indicate how good your technique is and what needs to be done to improve.

  • Quadriceps – soreness here after running normally indicates the person has been overstriding
  • Shins – this indicates that they are likely a heel striker or they are running in shoes that need to be replaced
  • Calfs/ Achilles – indicates that their has been either an increase in hill work which is overloading there flexor hallucis longus (big toe muscle) or they are dehydrated
  • Iliotibial Band (ITB) – indicates that legs are normally too straight when running down hill. Can also be due to excessive pronation of the foot or knee imbalances
  • Hamstrings – this usually indicates the gluteals have been week or not firing during the workout
  • Gluteals – soreness here is what you want. It means they have been firing during the workout and have been helping achieve a highly functional closed kinematic chain between the hip and foot and reduced the amount of stress of all lower limb joints and muscles. Gluteals can become disengaged for many reasons but the main reason seems to from excessive sitting. And with recent studies showing that the average office worker spends 73 minutes of their whole day NOT sitting, we need to get up and move.

Overall if you are unsure or if you have any questions please feel free to contact us at Neurohealth Chiropractic.

If you would like more information or would like to book an appointment at Neurohealth Chiropractic – please call the clinic on 9905 9099 or email us admin@neurohealthchiro.com.au or fill in the contact form from our website www.neurohealthchiro.com.au

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This article is written by Dr. Steven Cannon, Chiropractor – Neurohealth Chiropractic