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Running – 3 Common mistakes that lead to injury.

Running is a great way to keep fit. Very little is needed in terms of equipment or training. However, there are some common mistakes that we see again and again when it comes to running, that ultimately lead to injury.

So let’s take a look and improve your running gait.

Heel striking when running

We talk a lot about heel striking when we running, and for good reason. The heel strike leads to all sorts of issues when we run. We have a separate article on this so I won’t go into detail here, but take a look at this blog if you want more knowledge on this area.

So how do we avoid a heel strike when we start out on our running journey. The simplest solution here is to have a very short stride. When we walk it is important to stride out, for all sorts of reasons, but when we run we want to encourage a mid foot strike and for that we need a short stride.

A simple way to ensure this is to make sure you can’t see your feet when you run! I know that sounds odd, but if you can’t see your feet you can’t be over striding. Give it a go, increase your cadence and reduce your injury risk.

Wide legs when you run

This one might sound odd, but you would be amazed how many people we see who cross their legs over when they run. It looks like they are running on a tightrope! Sometimes they mention they catch their other foot as they run, or feel their knees bashing together. If you feel any of these things, you are certainly running with very narrow legs.

When we run, our legs should be hip width apart and they should stay hip width apart. When we analyse people we often can’t see how their foot hits the floor, because one foot is in front of the other. The problem with this is that it inhibits the Glutes.

The Glutes are your powerful bottom muscles and they are needed to drive force through the legs as you run. If the Glute is weak, or can’t work properly because you are crossing your legs, you will find that you drop at the pelvis when you run.

Many therapists will see this and incorrectly mention that you have weak Glutes, but despite strengthening, the problem doesn’t disappear. This is because the Glutes aren’t weak, they just can’t work properly because they are in an overly stretched position. If you widen your legs, your Glutes can function in a better bio-mechanical way, and the pelvis stops tipping. 😀 👍

So how do we run with wide legs? The first thing to do is not to worry that it will feel very odd, it doesn’t generally look odd, so no one will stare at you. One of my clients went as far as strapping half tennis balls to her knees so she could feel if she started crossing her legs! Now, she probably did look odd, but it did work for her! 🤣

But start slowly and if you can, run somewhere with paving slabs. Aim to keep one foot in each slab without crossing your feet over the centre lines of the slabs. This is a great visual queue for you to check your foot placement. In a very short time, it will feel natural and your Glutes will be powering you along correctly.

Rotation is needed when running

Another common issue we see is with people holding their upper body static when they run. The torso needs to rotate when we run, otherwise the SI Joint, which joins the pelvis to the spine, stops moving. This can affect, not only the power you can produce when you run, but also affects your back and again those Glutes. Again we have a more in depth article on rotation in running, so take a look here. We also have a video on this, which you can view here.

So how do we ensure we are rotating our torso when we run? The easiest way is to do a few training runs whilst holding your elbows against your ribs. Watch your hands while you run, they should be rotating from side to side. If your elbows are away from your ribs, the tendency is to just move the arms but keep the torso static. If they are locked into your ribs, you have to move your torso in order to move your arms and therefore you end up rotating at the torso.

This will help you to understand how it feels to rotate your torso when you run, and it should feel much easier to run this way. Once you have done a few training runs, your body should have worked out what you want it to do and you can relax the arms a bit. If you are struggling, don’t be afraid to exaggerate the movement a bit initially. This is often needed when the movement pattern is very ingrained, but very quickly your body will adapt to what you want it to do.

If you need any help with your running, come and see us for a Running Analysis Session. We video you run and slow your movements down so we can see exactly what you do when you run.