Updated: Mar 27, 2020
In recent years there has been a massive resurgence of people taking up running at a grass-roots, recreational level, as the massively noticeable appearance of ‘Couch to 5K’ groups are boosting participation figures. This is very positive to see, as the volunteers who run these groups are helping many people in leading a healthier lifestyle.
However, despite these positives, with there now being many more beginner and club-level runners on the road, this increased participation rate does present other health issues which need to be highlighted. We are constantly being told on the news and in the media about the importance of having a balanced diet and exercising regularly in order to reduce the risk of developing illnesses such as type 2 diabetes and some cancers. Exercise is also widely cited as a key method to lift mood and improve the effects of mental illness such as depression and anxiety. However, while running may be great for improving cardiovascular fitness and mental wellbeing, there is one area of health and wellbeing that; when not addressed properly, is very commonly compromised by typical running habits, and this is to do with your postural health.
"there is one area of health and wellbeing that; when not addressed properly, is very commonly compromised by typical running habits, and this is to do with your postural health."
Couch to 5K groups and apps are very good at improving your cardiovascular fitness, by building you up to a 5K, as the name suggests, and while they may inform you about how to build up this fitness and how to pace a run, very rarely do these groups teach you how to run, which should not be confused with simply building endurance. Now, I don’t want to take anything away from the fantastic job that Run Leaders do (most of whom are volunteers), however, I feel that a key fault with the system is the fact that in the process of trying to lift barriers and make it easier for people to become qualified to lead Couch to 5K groups, and to reach as many people as possible, the Run Leader course is only one day long, and that is not nearly enough to become equated with enough knowledge of proper running technique in order to teach somebody how to run correctly. There are also higher-level coaching qualifications than this also, but even here, Biomechanics is not the main focus, and nor can we expect the group leaders to be biomechanical experts. Therefore, tuition regarding the proper technique of running is absent from most beginner running groups, even to the point where many people are surprised when I tell them that there is indeed a proper technique to running, and it isn’t just a simple case of putting one foot in front of the other… Furthermore, while a lot of affiliated running clubs do include some technical sessions, these tend to only offer ‘snippets’ of how to run properly, and aren’t offered as part of a structured, specific plan to give a bigger picture, and nor are they usually followed up enough by the participants in order to gain any sort of lasting benefit anyway. Think of it this way – if your car had a wonky wheel, the logical course of action would be to find the cause of the misalignment and fix it, in order to make the car safer and more economical, rather than just putting more fuel into it in order to compensate for the fact that it is wasting energy. If we think of this analogy in the context of running however, where a poor running form due to a lack of strength and technical work is the wonky wheel, and the sole focus on cardiovascular fitness is the equivalent of just putting more fuel in the car – what does a typical runner do?
"if your car had a wonky wheel, the logical course of action would be to find the cause of the misalignment and fix it, in order to make the car safer and more economical, rather than just putting more fuel into it in order to compensate for the fact that it is wasting energy. If we think of this analogy in the context of running however, where a poor running form due to a lack of strength and technical work is the wonky wheel, and the sole focus on cardiovascular fitness is the equivalent of just putting more fuel in the car – what does a typical runner do?"
You might argue that we don’t need to be taught how to run naturally, just like a wild animal doesn’t need to be taught how to. However, bear in mind that a wild animal doesn’t sit at a desk or in a car all day, or constantly slump over mobile phones, tablets and laptops etc. These practices severely weaken many of our muscles which need to be strong so we can run correctly, such as the core, hip flexors and gluteals. So how can a natural running form possibly be bourn from such an unnatural lifestyle? Most people do very little in terms of strength and conditioning in order to compensate for this day-to-day weakening, so is it any wonder that at the end of the day that when we get up from our desks and go running, that we can’t run properly? Now, given my experience, it is obviously a lot easier for me to spot a poor running technique, but have a think about this yourself – surely even an untrained eye must be able to spot some differences between the technique of a beginner runner and someone who performs at a higher level – a better runner normally seems so much more relaxed and comfortable, and this isn’t just down to them being fitter.
So, what are the consequences of this?
The main one is injury due to the sheer amount of force that travels through our bodies while our bodies are misaligned. Did you know, that when running, every time you land, there is between 2.5 and 3 times the force of your bodyweight travelling through your body? These forces are increased when running on hard concrete surfaces, and/or with poor technique, creating massive wear and tear on our soft tissues (e.g. muscles and tendons). Therefore, do you really want that much force going through your body while it’s misaligned? This can result in sports-related injuries in the short-term, but what about our long-term joint health? It is often stated that road running may lead to longer-term issues such as an earlier onset of osteoarthritis after all…
So how can my workshops help?
My online Biomechanics and Injury Prevention Workshops aim to fill in a vital gap left in most beginner and club-level runner’s training programmes. These sessions will teach you to become a stronger, more robust runner, even by just making subtle changes to your training. This will help you to not only reduce sports injuries in the short-term, but it will also help to look after your longer-term joint health, along with increasing your sporting performance – after all, even if you aren’t competitive, who doesn’t want to be able to run easier? These sessions are available to buy from my website (www.willgoodbournsportsmassage.com/onlineworkshops) for as little as £39.99 for the full workshop series, featuring over 4 hours of content to make you into a better runner! Below you can find a list of topics covered throughout the series:
☑️Importance of/when to have a, Sports Massage ☑️What is/the importance of, Biomechanics ☑️Lifestyle effects ☑️Everyday forces acting upon the body ☑️Importance of a warm-up ☑️Posture correction ☑️Strength development ☑️Key Biomechanical structures of the body ☑️Stretching – when and how ☑️Cooldowns ☑️Basic and advanced technical development ☑️Fundamental skill development ☑️Example session plans ☑️Power development ☑️Foot strike ☑️Drills to improve technique