At the time of writing this, I have an injury! And, contrary to popular belief, it is not a random piece of bad luck, but due to a combination of my bio-mechanics, and the training I’ve been doing. Today’s blog explains the process I go through on my running technique workshop to check a runner’s’ bio-mechanics and highlight anything that may lead to injury, so they can keep an eye on it, and take meaningful steps to prevent injury from happening.
So, back to the bio-mechanics checks, there are a few things that I look out for that can help you to guard against some of the most common injuries of runners.
Are you able to perform a squat?
The squat is really important as it involves triple flexion, a key way the joints are used in running. This means a flex at the ankle, knee and hip. If you are unable to squat because these joints are inflexible, then it will affect your running and your susceptibility to injury. If the joints can’t flex effectively, then they can’t absorb shock effectively. Because of the repetitive nature of running, over time, this will cause injury.
Look out for:
-Heels coming up. This suggests weakness in the posterior chain, or over tight calf.
Try foam rolling and stretching calves out and see if it helps. Then focus on heels staying on the ground when you try to squat again.
-Back arches, or unable to keep spine in neutral. This suggests weakness in the posterior chain, and lack of flexibility in hips. Do exercises to strengthen the back, and mobility and stretches to loosen off the hips.
-Knees dip inwards or can’t keep them over foot as squatting. This suggests week abductors (weakness in glute medius specifically)
This looks at stability on one leg. Ideally you are able to squat, keeping your heel on the ground with your knee remaining over the foot. If it dips inwards or outwards, that’s a sign that the leg stabilisers are weak. There are two parts to this. The Abductors and the Adductors. Both balance each out and in this particular movement they are resisting motion. If one is weak, it will push the other out and so you get the wobble when you squat on one leg.
Sometimes when you try this more than once and you concentrate on the 2nd time, your ability to do this improves, which shows how important it is to do single leg resistance work. By doing resistance work, you switch more motor units on to working when it matters.
This also looks at stability on one leg, but whilst moving forward. Sometimes you may be fine on the static squat, but moving it will highlight areas of weakness.
Here we are also looking for a weakness in the hip abductors which may cause ITB Syndrome, as the hip to knee angle becomes too great.
IF you walk toward a mirror, you should be able to see what your feet do around your mid line. Ideally you are able to lunge as if your feet are on train tracks, rather than a tightrope. If this isn’t what you naturally do, or you find it particularly difficult, then it’s a sign that the hip abductors are weak, and you could end up susceptible to IT Band Syndrome.
These are just a few of the bio-mechanics checks that are relevant to your running, and could help you to take steps to prevent you from getting injured.
To learn more, why not get a Running Technique Analysis, where I can see you running, and give you drills and strength exercises that will help you to improve your running form and to prevent injury.
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Angela Isherwood is the founder of I Run Success
She is a REPs Level 3 Personal Trainer, a Run England Running coach, and a multiple marathon runner. She is a London Marathon Good for Age runner, a Boston Marathon Qualifier, a parkrun Run Director and Trainer for Goodgym Colchester.