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Runners – Do you know the right skill sets for running?

From now onwards you’re likely to see people getting out and about togged up in their running gear, whether it’s those new to running and

Jane Morris finishing the 2015 London Marathon

wanting to improve their fitness, lose weight or just take on a new challenge as part of a New Year’s resolution, to those seasoned runners who are training for marathons, Ultra marathons or triathlons.

Since late November I have seen several people albeit fairly seasoned runners / triathletes coming in with a number of issues, and I’m sure in the coming months there’ll be others who have just taken up running as part of that New Year’s resolution.

Running is one of the few sports that many people start without any prior knowledge or training and can leave people beset with injury, whether it’s early on in their running career or at a later stage.

The reality is that many runners constantly deal with a slight (or not so slight) disturbance—a tender foot, a tight hamstring, a whiny knee. These mild, transient aches that bug runners one day and disappear the next, they’re often not-quite-injured but not-quite-healthy end of the spectrum. They’re often not serious enough to require a time-out, but they are annoying, and spoil the time spent on the roads or tracks.

Many running injuries are caused by overuse, when you add distance or speed to your running routine to quickly, running up hills, and interval training are just some of the reasons running injuries occur. Equally people can develop injuries when they first start running.

Our bodies are very finely tuned pieces of equipment and I constantly find that these injuries that runners have sustained are often due to either a new movement pattern that their body is not used to, or they have suddenly changed the amount of running, the pace or style of running…… this applies not just to runners / triathletes but to anything in life, such as decorating on a bank holiday when your job is sedentary.

For instance, I recently saw a triathlete… superbly fit and in this case the body was used to running, cycling and open water swimming, but the thing that had thrown the system was playing football several times in quick succession which was an unusual activity and the skill set required for that type of activity is very different to that required for running, cycling or swimming, hence the visit to myself.

So, what are the skill sets required for running:

  1. Good balance – good contact through the ground with the feet – the feet need to be able to listen to the information coming through the ground., feeding information through to the glutes and trunk muscles and the upper body.

  2. The hips need to be able to flex, and the tibia (shin bone) needs to be able to rotate to disperse forces through the leg to the trunk rather than all the force stopping at the knee.

  3. The major stabilisers, the muscles and fascia that make up the stabilising connection through the legs and trunk all play and important role in stabilising the pelvis and play a role in trunk control, placing the trunk in the correct position over the pelvis. Not only that but the runner neds to be able to stabilise through the glutes and the glutes need to be able to carry the load enabling the Central Longitudinal Axis of the trunk to be able to stay on the pelvis and not deviate forwards, backwards or side to side.

  4. Flexibility and elasticity – the pelvis and trunk need to be able to counter rotate, so for example as the pelvis rotates to the right, the trunk rotates to the left. All of this requires co-ordination and also elasticity in order to dispel force and wind up the elasticity in the system to propel the runner forward.

These are but a few things, but all in all there is much that needs to occur and in the right order.

Much of this relates to movement pattern and function, orchestrated by the body’s Nervous System and this bit is so often overlooked.

So while strength is important, particularly for marathon runners, ultrarunners etc, prior to any strength training it is so important to look at the movement pattern of the person and correct that pattern through engaging their central nervous system.

Regardless of your running experience, the best advice for preventing any injury is to pay careful attention to any warning signs of an injury.

I would add that it is so important for your nervous system to be sending your body the right messages from a movement pattern perspective, whether that be from complete novice to seasoned runner.

Here at the Centre we have a range of therapists that are runners themselves and are experienced in managing the rehabilitation of people with these types of injury.

If you are experiencing any of these problems, or other types of pain, give us a call 01480 455221 or email us here.

Author: Jane Morris


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