Good Running Technique Prevents the Occurrence of Running-Related Injuries

The essence of good running technique

Running techniques or forms are a series of joint movements and body motions that enable an individual to achieve a balanced and successful race. The basis of good running is in its form. Its importance cannot be over-emphasized. People have different body structures and, hence, utilize different techniques.

Runners

Runners

Running technique involves three essential factors; body posture, cadence or step rate, and stride. The functions of these three components are closely related and one can’t work without the other.

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It is essential to have good techniques when running to achieve all running goals and prevent the occurrence of common injuries. According to Taunton et al, the commonest running injuries among 2000 participants whom they assessed were medial tibial stress syndrome, followed by Achilles tendinopathy, tibial stress fracture, and gastrocnemius/soleus tears or strains.

The prevalence of running-related injuries is in fact, more common than we think. This can be attributed to factors that include poor gear, overtraining, muscular and skeletal deformities, and bad running techniques.

Wrong running technique can cause injuries

Aoife Burke was the principal investigator in a prospective study that was published on SpringerOpen in June 2023. They observed running-related injuries in 258 runners and concluded that running technique, amongst other factors, caused injuries in about half of the participants.

They observed male and female runners, who in the preceding 6 months, had run a distance of not less than 10 km each week. They assessed training methods and practices, impact acceleration and running techniques, and tracked any injury that emerged for one year.

They found significant relationships between running techniques and injuries. Poor knee and thorax techniques led to knee and lower extremity injuries. Reduced inward angulation of the knee, increased knee rotation, increased lowering of the thorax to the opposite side, and non-rearfoot strike pattern contributed to running injuries.

Other links that were found were; frequent training (marathon in view), frequent change of gear (shoes; every 3 months), and a previous history of running injuries in a time frame of less than a year ago.
Interestingly, this is the first study to establish a strong relationship between running techniques and running-related injuries.

How to achieve a good running technique

Running is great for the heart and it shouldn’t be complicated by injuries. Good running reduces the amount of kilojoules that are expended, increases efficiency, and prevents injuries. It enables runners to go long distances with minimal pain and discomfort. Here are ways runners can prevent injuries:

  • Maintain proper body alignment: The head, shoulder, chest, back, hips, and feet should be maintained in proper alignment, to ensure balance. One of the major causes of injuries is long-term training, which leads to chronic stress on the joints and subsequent wear and tear.
  • Ensure adequate weight distribution and balance: Embracing proper running techniques reduces the impact on the joints in the long run. Runners should refrain from overloading certain areas of the body, proper weight balance prevents subsequent sprains, dislocations, and stress fractures.
  • Engage key muscle groups: Runners should engage the relevant muscle groups and ensure that power is generated in the right areas. Using proper techniques makes it easier to balance energy throughout the body and maintain a steady pace, which prevents quick fatigability and the occurrence of strains on musculoskeletal tissue.
  • Increase the step rate (cadence): Increasing the step rate to 180 steps per minute
  • Ensure good arm movement: Some athletes make the mistake of twisting their abdomen while running. This is a big mistake. Keeping your arms closer to your sides solves this problem.
  • Addition of core strengthening exercises: Training alongside core strengthening exercises helps to strengthen core muscles and reduce unnecessary energy usage.
  • Ensure knee protection: This can be achieved by striking your foot directly under your knee.
  • Maintain a straight and erect spine: Maintaining a straight and erect spine column helps to improve posture and prevent injuries.
  • Respiratory coordination: This can be achieved by aligning breathing patterns with foot rhythms. It helps to reduce muscle and general body tension.

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Things to do to lower the risk of injury

Experts often recommend improving your running form through methods such as gait analysis. By understanding the unique aspects of your stride, runners can make targeted adjustments that lead to more fluid, energy-efficient movements.

Never underestimate the power of warm-ups. Carrying out stretches like walking lunges and squats activates the muscles and prepares the body for the work ahead.

Wear proper gear; especially shoes that are not too tight.

Usually, it is advised that runners get fitted at a sports gear store that sells quality items. Proper ankle socks and breathable athletic clothes that allow fluidity of movement are also required.

Finally, the slightest ache or pain can be nothing or a pointer to something serious. Not everyone has the same endurance pattern. Runners should always go visit a doctor if anything unusual is noticed.

References

Burke, A., Dillon, S., O’Connor, S. et al. Aetiological Factors of Running-Related Injuries: A 12 Month Prospective “Running Injury Surveillance Centre” (RISC) Study. Sports Med – Open 9, 46 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40798-023-00589-1

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