At SBR Sport I do a number of Runners Leg Assessments each week. These consist of general flexion tests, a knee examination that checks for 9 different knee injuries e.t.c. I also place runners on our treadmill and measure rates of pronation, forward lean, ankle dorsiflexion e.t.c.
There are a number of things that I have observed –
1) Most runners do not stretch enough. In fact a large group of runners proudly state that they never stretch. I suppose dentists get the same reaction from asking if people floss as we do when we ask if people stretch. I would estimate that 80% of all athletes complaining of lower back issues have inflexible hamstrings.
2) Many runners heel strike. They have been taught that correct running implies smashing the heel into the ground and then rolling off the toes. “Heel toe, heel toe” is what their misinformed coaches have told them. There is only one sport that I know of where you strike your heel in the ground and that is, “Tug of War”. Only problem is that your goal in tug of war is to move backward.
3) Runners often as they grow older begin to lean backwards as they run. Please don’t. Look at pictures of children and track athletes running and you will find that they all have a forward lean. They essentially fall into the next stride.
Practical steps to decent running form –
1) Keep relaxed. Knees, ankles, shoulders, arms – everything.
2) Stand tall. Bheki Cele got it right – “Chest out, stomach in.” He has of course made other statements that are equally wise and while off the topic of running, should be heeded, This one is with regard to weapons – “Even if the weapons are legal… you can’t just have them lying all over the show like chickens.” Back to running – make sure that you are running upright. Bending over will place strain on your spine and reduce your lung capacity. Run tall – stomach in, chest out.
3) Point your feet forward. Pigeon toed (Feet pointing out) and duck footed (Feet pointing inwards) describe two incorrect ways of running. Remember that neither ducks nor pigeons run fast.
4) Try to land toward your midfoot. The more tentative your landing, the less you will injure yourself.
5) Remember to smile. We want to bring more people into the sport.