by Thomas Kurz
Running is the most commonly used form of movement for developing general aerobic endurance. It is a simple, natural movement, yet people can do it wrong.
Here is a description of the correct running technique:
- Keep the trunk straight, leaning slightly forward.
- Arms, bent at elbows, move forward and backward. Moving the arms across the front of the trunk causes swaying of the trunk, which stresses the knees and can injure them.
- Hands, arms, the upper part of the trunk, and facial muscles are fully relaxed.
- At low speeds the foot contacts the ground with the outer side of the foot close to the heel and rolls toward the front; or, at higher speeds or when running uphill, with the outer side of the front of the foot.
- The toes point slightly inward. To find out how much, tell the athlete to suspend his or her foot above the ground and relax it. The toes will turn slightly inward. This will be the correct position.
- Steps, at the beginning of the running program, should be short–one or two foot lengths.
- Direct the push-off forward, not up as in jogging. If the athlete runs too slow to push off forward–that is, jogs–the push-off is directed up, which causes injuries to the muscles and joints of the legs and the joints of one’s back.
- In the first month of running workouts, one should breathe through the nose only. When a person breathes through the nose it means that the effort is adequate to his or her fitness. There is an exception to this rule–some people have trouble breathing only through the nose, even at a slow running pace. They should not force themselves to breathe only through the nose.
Running Pointers: From Head to Toe
- Head is up, at a constant distance from the shoulders.
- Trunk leans slightly forward.
- Arms move parallel to the direction of the run.
- Elbows are bent at about 90 degrees.
- Knee is slightly bent when the foot strikes the ground.
- Knee is completely straight when the foot pushes off.
- Foot lands on the ground with its middle or front part, depending on the speed of running.
- The whole body moves only very slightly up and down–the more vertical motion, the worse is the stress on the joints of the legs and the back.
Australian researchers discovered that fashionable sneakers, with air or gel cushions, cause sports injuries. Basketball players who play in such shoes injure their ankle joints four times as often as those who wear shoes without such cushions. The air cushions and gel cushions increase the risk of injury during jumping and running.
One possible cause: The stronger the amortizers in the shoe, the less load falls on the tendons, such as the Achilles’ tendon, so they grow weaker and eventually fail.
An experiment conducted by physicians at the Sporthochschule (Higher School of Sports) in Köln, Germany, supports this explanation. The physicians had athletes train one leg with relatively light loads and the other with heavy loads. After two weeks of such training, the physicians observed identical increase of muscle size in both legs. Increase of the size of tendons, however, could be noticed only in the leg trained with heavy loads.
So, the better the shoe protects the joints from shock/impact loads, the less the tendons have to adapt to such loads.
The video below explains the influence of footwear on gait and posture and thus on athletic performance.
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