By Patrick Oughtred.
In a world where we strive to be the very best we can, we can be fooled into believing that one particular way is the ‘the best’; because what works for one person works everyone else, right?
Running technique is a question I get asked about all the time; “what’s the best way to run? Up on my toes? Striding out?” The fact is that there is no ‘best’ technique that’s a one size fits all. Running technique has been a hotly debated topic over a number of years, especially since the rise of barefoot running, and everyone has an opinion on it.
Running is a natural, innate form of movement, just like walking. And just like walking, we need to ‘train’ ourselves to move effectively and efficiently, people forget this. To run well is a skill, whether you are an elite athlete, or a weekend warrior, you need to have developed complex motor patterns, have well rounded functional strength, and follow a structured progressive overload training program (slow and steady wins the race).
The human body is an amazing piece of machinery, it is able to adapt with time and evolve its own movement patterns to suit its activities. Walking is a perfect example of this; everyone will walk visually the same way, one foot in front of the other, arms swinging by their side. But if you look closely, there are very subtle differences between everyone, which is because everyone is vastly different; this is the same for running.
The human body will move in the most efficient way it can, to minimize energy expenditure, maximize output (performance) and reduce the risk of injuries. Yes two elite athletes whose running technique appear similar, but if you analyse both running styles, there will be differences. This is due to internal factors; functional strength, skeletal structure, muscle composition, and external factors; footwear, training load, training surfaces etc. Your brain will determine the best way for you to run, based on all these variables, and with improvement in all these components, your running technique will evolve again, and again.
The best people to guide you to becoming the best runner you can be, whether you are a social or elite runner, are the professionals that can evaluated your injury history, running technique and functional strength, and incorporate a well structured, progressive (slow building) training program. These professionals include Running Coaches, Sports Podiatrists, Physiotherapists, and Exercise Physiologists.
So when you next go for a run, remember to keep it natural, and enjoy the sense of freedom that running provides.
Patrick Oughtred is a Sports Podiatrist at Pro Feet Podiatry. He is a keen runner, and has a real passion for helping people achieve their activity goals.
If you’re looking for some running tips whether that be for race-day or training, head to our tips page here.