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Tips to improve efficiency of your running technique

At mlh Physiotherapy & Sports Injury Clinic we see patients every week with a variety of running-related injuries. The more runners we treat the more our attention focuses on running technique & dynamic control of that technique rather than the type of shoes or orthotics.

Yes the correct shoes or insoles can have an important role in your running style, but we focus on how you can actively control your running style. Barefoot running, orthotics, neutral or stability shoes, is a whole other discussion, which we will attempt to cover in the future!

In our opinion, maintaining dynamic or active control of your technique is more important than the shoes you wear. In general terms, this will involve improving the function of the stability muscles around the hip, knee & foot, and strengthening the correct muscles of the trunk & legs. A treatment & exercise program would be devised for each individual.

Our aim of this blog is to give a few simple tips to focus on while running to help improve your technique, whether you are a forefoot/midfoot/heel striker. Although there seems to be a biomechanical advantage to forefoot/midfoot striking, it is not a 'one size fits all' rule; it is about making your technique as efficient as possible.

1. Forward Lean not bend
Many of us now have more sedentary jobs, meaning we spend more time 'hunched' or in a flexed spinal position. This habit is easily taken into our running style, leading to tight & overactive hip flexors, and weak gluteals.

You should think about leaning forward through your whole body not just your trunk. So from your ankles, keep your knees, hips, spine & shoulders in a straight line. This will encourage forward momentum and aid the 2nd & 3rd tips.

Running Technique Blog Photo

2. Don't over-stride
If you over-stride by landing the ankle forward of the knee, every time you land you are 'braking' and reducing that forward momentum. Try to land on initial contact with the knee directly over the ankle, ie with the shin vertical.

Running Technique Blog Photo

3. Heel pick-up or foot pull
A lot runners fall into a 'hip-flexor dominance' pattern when running whether due to poor technique, muscle tightness or fatigue. This will result in further dysfunction around the hips & pelvis, and possibly injury.

When running think about 'pulling' the heel/foot up towards the hip, as this will engage your hamstrings and share the workload with the hip flexors. This will automatically keep the leg under the pelvis during the swing phase of that leg, and stop you over-striding.

Running Technique Blog Diagram

If you have a running injury, want advice about your running technique, or need physiotherapy then contact us at mlh Physiotherapy to book in now.

Author: Jonathan Smith

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