Running: what’s your style?

Published: 17th July, 2017

The long drive down to Malvern for the schools cross country finals evokes memories of cold, wet trails as a child.  Growing up in South Lincolnshire there were no hills to contend with but somehow the thought of cross country still filled me with dread.  However, on reflection, I can’t help but think how beneficial running is.  It seems that the simple process of placing one foot in front of the other at an increased cadence has so many positive effects.  Just viewing social media highlights the number of people who run on a regular basis and the positive influence it has.  From a sense of well-being, stress relief, charity fund-raising and social gains; to health, weight and cardio-vascular benefits. 

Working as a physiotherapist, I meet a lot of runners of all ages and abilities.  It is interesting the hear what inspired them to start running and the amount of support that they have had.  Just looking at the Doncaster area, a few clubs spring to mind – all of which offer an inclusive environment in which to run.  Some runners will have undertaken a gait analysis when purchasing trainers but the vast majority will have just started running with little advice or education on technique or volume.  It is therefore not surprising that within a year a whopping 60-85% will break down at some point with an injury.  Unless the injury is caused by trauma (which is unlikely in straight line running) it is almost always preventable. 

So why don’t more people seek coaching for running?  When you think about most physical activity we are usually coached to some extent whether in a ‘class’ or ‘game’ context. Team sports nearly always have a coach and individual pursuits can certainly be enhanced with a bit of fine tuning.  It seems to be that we all expect to be able to run.  It’s something that we automatically progress onto as a child and maybe it seems a little embarrassing to ask for help.  A bit like asking what we should eat.  But then, how many people make the wrong choices there too?  In the 21st century where science and technology has advanced to analyse every step, heartbeat and camber it seems a little naive to miss the obvious – technique.  For example, if you buy a car that pretty much drives itself but then fail to keep the tyres inflated to the adequate pressure, you can’t expect the technology to compensate for this. 

So what can you do?  There’s a fair chance that if you have ever had a gait analysis, you might have a perception of whether you over-pronate (more commonly known as flat-footed).  Overstride, toe angle and tibial rotation might sound a little more baffling. However these are all components of running which increase risk of injury and inhibit ultimate performance.  At Chapman Physiotherapy we use analysis software to record and assess your running style, allowing us to show you exactly what you are doing and re-educate any malfunctioning components, however subtle they may be.  Often these changes can easily be incorporated into your running program with immediate benefits. One Park Run enthusiast dropped his time from 24 minutes to 21 minutes within a few weeks.  Another was reluctant to commence a strengthening program for fears that it may slow him down but was amazed in how it reduced his injury rate.  The bottom line is, in an age where we constantly strive for improvement and review everything, why are we not evaluating our running style?  Maybe we should be.  Running analysis starts from 30 minute reviews at £32.  Call 01302 321245 for further details.

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