Your Questions About Technique Answered by a Running Expert
Following the Founder of The Running School ® Mike Antoniades' Twitter takeover #AskMike, we asked him for his top tips on running technique...
Why is running so hard on the body?
When we run we put between two to five times our body weight through our foot, knee and hip. Most elite athletes have a stride frequency of approximately 90-95 strides on each leg per minute. But let's take an example of someone who take 75 strides per minute on each leg. If they were to weigh 85 kg, then they will be generating forces equal to between 170 kg and 425 kg with every stride. Over a 60 minute run, that's a lot of strees on the lower limbs.
If we consider that most of us are running with inefficient movement patterns, at some point our body will begin to complain.
Is there such a thing as ‘perfect running technique’?
The short answer is no, as we are all made differently. But there is a perfect running technique for each individual and their body shape. Muscle imbalances and previous injuries can change the biomechanics of the arms and legs and we need to re-teach the body how work efficiently again.
Start implementing changes to your technique:
Feet: The feet should be landing under your body - the centre of gravity - not ahead of your body. Landing further ahead of your body means you are over-striding, which causes a breaking action.
Landing: You must land lightly on your feet. The best and most efficient way is to land on the balls of your feet. But this is not for everyone, and if you are a heel-toe runner, then simply practise landing more lightly on the ground. If you want to change to running on the balls of the feet, then you need to practice 10 minutes at a time to get used to it.
Lower Leg Cycling Motion: When your foot leaves the ground, bring your heel up towards your backside to contract the hamstring and your gluteus maximus. This creates a cycling motion – shortening your stride length.
Arms: The coordination of the arms with the legs is the part that will eliminate the bounce and get you moving forwards rather than upwards. The arms should be bent at the elbow at about 90 degrees and the movement should be backward and forward.
These are not instant fixes, but you can change your running technique and run more efficiently through practice. It should take about five or six 45 minute sessions to change your technique. Do short runs of 20-30 seconds at a time. Try incorporating one change at a time and then at the next training session make another change until it becomes fluid.