Improving running technique as a solution to running injuries? I get asked this all the time, or actually, people ask for running technique sessions because they are injured and believe this is the solution.
But is it?
I trained as a Master Run Coach with the London Running School over 4 years ago – the reason I wanted to learn more about running? I was constantly injured running.
I was told by various different professionals many different reasons for why I was injured – some said my glutes didn’t work (I had been a personal trainer for 2 years plus raced competitively for 3 years), so found this hard to digest. Some said I needed insoles, some said I needed to stretch more and had painful treatment which involved an elbow in my IT band which resulted in little results.
So I decided to learn more about the biomechanics of running myself. So off I went to London to learn. Finally, I found a tool I could use to help runners move with less effort and more efficiency. Or so I thought.
We can all work to improve how we move. Adjusting your running technique can do wonders for some people – helping people to spend less time on the ground, move forward quicker and get more rhythm through their gait cycle – however, this was never the golden ticket to get people injury free. I needed to learn more….
After a further 4 years of studying and learning gait biomechanics and human movement potential from the incredible Gary Ward, author of What the Foot and who was famously seen on BBC’s Dr in the House in 2016 – I finally found what I was looking for.
One of the 5 rules of movement that Gary teaches is that ‘joints act, muscles react’. If our joints struggle to open and close in 3Dimensions – our muscles are going to let us know about it. Take the foot, this has 33 joints alone. That’s 66 movable joints that you are putting weight through with every step you take.
Look at most common running injuries – tight calves, hamstrings – knee problems, plantafaciitis etc etc.. we often blame muscles for not being strong enough – or spend time stretching these muscles, often to no avail. What if we are looking in the wrong place. What if we could move the joints to allow the muscles to just do their job.
So will your foot problem, or calve pain disappear by changing your running technique? Or, can you learn how to make sure all your joints are able to move in 3D so you can carry on running as you wish?
It’s become my belief through understanding my own body that if I challenge my joints, keep them all moving as often as possible – work on my feet, my hips, my spine, my arms, my skull – suddenly the movement potential you have available is dramatically bigger. Now when I run, I don’t think about ‘technique’, I just run. My body is relaxed, knowing that my joints are able to move freely to allow space for me to fall into.
We try so many ‘external’ things like new running shoes, running technique training etc to get out of injury, the real solution lies in our own bodies. Bring awareness to how you move and you will discover there is likely to be a lot of movement potential inside you dying to be discovered. How well do your joints move? how well do your feet move? How do you move your 206 bones from one leg to the other?
I rarely even watch people run now, just watch them walk in bare feet.
Remember, you need to walk well, before you can run well.