It may seem like a strange concept. Surely everyone can run, you just put one foot in front of another, increase speed and you’re running. But much has changed from the days of old when we were constantly moving. Since the advent of the chair we now move so little that it has impacted our entire form. We need a movement revolution, but before we can do that we need to understand where we’re going wrong.
Five Pointers to Get You Back on the Good Foot
1. Watch your legs 🏃♀️
If you’ve ever seen other people run, there are a wild variety of techniques. But how do you know when you’re doing it wrong? The simplest way is to start slow and watch your foot placement, (technically called 'footstrike') each time you take a stride notice how your legs are moving, all the way from your foot to your hip.
- Are you swinging one leg out wildly?
- Are you landing on the sides of your feet?
- Does the stride feel natural?
Stride distance is an important factor, try not to lunge too far, keep each step within your natural gait. One great way to watch your technique: get a friend to record a short clip of yourself from behind you.
2. Foot Placement🦶🏽🦶🏽
Your feet and legs are more advanced than you realise. Feet are wondrously sensitive and give all the correct feedback when placing your foot on the floor, that is until you cover them with 3 inches of rubber.
There are many studies for (and some against) barefoot running (and if you’re more interested this book is definitely worth a look). Studies suggest trying to land midway on your sole and then rolling through to the toe, although some people run other ways and have no problems. If you find you are getting issues with sore legs and knees be careful you’re not hitting the ground with your heel as this can cause injury.
Posture is often forgotten once you get outside and start running. Try to maintain a straight spine, keep your shoulders back, arms relaxed, head upright and look ahead. This will further influence your overall technique and help you to realise where mistakes might be creeping in.
4. Belly Breathing 🧘
It can be frustrating when you’re energised for a great run, but after 5 minutes a stitch slowly spreads across your side. For a long time it was thought that a lack of oxygen in the area was causing the pain but recent discoveries have shown it could also be linked to what you’re consuming before you head out. Correct breathing technique can help to relieve the pain, when inhaling try to breath into the belly first and expand the diaphragm then the chest and do the same for when you exhale.
5. The importance of footwear 👟
Since the pandemic, many more people are out exercising and running but perhaps don’t realise the importance of a good running shoe to help avoid injury. We’ve all seen the many adverts extolling the virtues of a great pair of running trainers and how they can make you faster than a speeding bullet. But there is some truth to getting a good pair of shoes. As we mentioned before, you're covering your foot in layers of rubber, this impedes the feedback loop to your legs, resulting in you hitting the ground with more force than necessary. A good running shoe will help this process rather than hinder it, and also allow the foot to breath. The slightly crazy thing is our feet do all of this without shoes, it makes you wonder why we need to pay a high price for something we are naturally born with!
We hope this helps you find your feet again and encourages you to start running, it's a great way to stay fit and can also can be very beneficial for mental health.
Next part in the series: the importance of posture