Written by Hannah Dykstra
If you thought running is a technique-free exercise, think again. Although putting your foot in front of the other may seem dummy-proof and straightforward, there are techniques and styles to running just as there are with any other exercise to optimize efficiency and reduce risk of injury.
The Pose Method of running is the best way to understand the proper mechanics in order to run efficiently and pain free. This method is a system for teaching techniques of human movement and was developed by two-time Olympic coach, Dr. Nicholas D. Romanov. This method seeks to teach better body positions, or poses, in running so that we are able to run faster, longer and pain free.
To understand the physics of running, we must understand the relationship between gravity and force with body weight and mechanics. The sole reason we are capable of running is due to gravity, meaning the only way to run efficiently is to redirect those very forces of gravity. In order to do so, we must understand that gravity initiates the downward force that muscles are balanced against. While running, the point at which the foot meets the surface of the earth is also the point at which gravity supports body weight. To initiate forward momentum, we have to allow the body to fall past the placement of the foot to redirect the forces created by gravity.
In order to master running, we must consistently work to develop our skills with flawless technique. For many, this process of correcting running form is an arduous process of breaking poor habits that commonly ail the exercise hobbyist. The most common mistake of novice runners is the heel strike. This is when the heel is the first part of the foot to strike the ground and establish the point of gravity. This fault causes our ankles, knees and hips to be in an extended and locked position that cannot safely absorb the impact at the point of gravity where our body meets the ground. Since we aren’t in a position for our joints and muscles to properly absorb impact, we put incredible forces of stress onto our tendons and ligaments to absorb bodyweight for longer than they are meant to, thus increasing potential for injury.
Opposing the heel strike is the more efficient strike of the forefoot. We can best engage our muscle tendon elasticity, hamstring strength and power by using the ball of our foot at the first point of contact. When we contact on the front portion of our foot, we unlock our joints completely, therefore we can be pain free by aligning our body in such a way that most safely absorbs impact.
Another common mistake is to over stride, referring to stride lengths that are larger than necessary and therefore expend excessive energy. The heel strike and over stride in fact will often coincide, causing even greater inconsistencies to our momentum, efficiency and safety. In simple terms, we are actually