Thursday, February 10, 2011

Training versus Straining - Preventing Running Injuries

Time after time I hear coaches describing a problem they see in an athlete’s biomechanics with no knowledge of being able to correct it because of a lack of knowledge of running mechanics. As such, they simply tell the athlete to focus or prescribe exercises or drills that only accentuate the problem

To minimize the risk of injury and setbacks in running, it is important to work on your running technique. The things that I stress with my athletes are to avoid the following:

Overstriding. Trying to make a stride too long puts the muscles in an inefficient lengthened position, causing the foot to land in front of the knee and creating a braking effect. Overstriding is caused by trying to run too hard.

Bobbing. Runners waste energy having too much up-and-down movement; the focus should be on forward motion. When an athlete is bobbing it is likely from lifting the knees too high up in front and pushing off the toes, or too short of a stride.

Sitting on the toilet. Also referred to as sitting on the hips, happens when the pelvis tilts forward and the hips push back. This posture reduces the power of the hip extensors, stresses the lower back, and shortens your stride. This is the largest reason for a lot of runners' back and hip problems.

Quad running. Relying too much on the quads and hip flexors rather than using the hamstrings and gluteals to extend the hips reduces the power and length of the stride. Strengthening glutes and hamstrings can improve running technique.

Hip drop (Trendelenburg gait). A Trendelenburg gait occurs when the pelvis shifts too far from side to side. This is a result of weak adductors and abductors. What happens is the hip of the swing leg drops and the hip of the stance leg pops out to the side because the muscles aren't able to hold the pelvis level.

Overpronation. Overpronation results from pushing off on a foot with a collapsed arch. This foot position puts extra stress on the muscles supporting the arch, which in turn pull on their attachments to the inside of the shin bone.

Excessive supination. Oversupination occurs when the foot doesn't roll in enough and remains on the outside edge. This action reduces the foot's ability to absorb the shock of impact and increases the risk of stress fractures, especially along the outside edge of the foot and shin.

Here is a great video that talks about core strength training and why it is so important.  Core strength training can help improve running form.

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