Chi Running, Pose Method, forefoot, heel strike, cushioned shoes, minimalist shoes, barefoot… and the list goes on. Everywhere you turn you can expect to see or hear someone banging the drum of one of the many philosophies behind long distance running. Why all the noise?
I suspect it is due to the fact that more than 50% of runners experience injury on a yearly basis. So what type of recommendations do I give patients?
If you want to be faster and more efficient:
May not want to play with the technique much. Research has shown that athletes intuitively select their most efficient running style. This is where a functional screen can come into play to highlight and address functional limitations. Advanced athletes will also find that performing high intensity plyometrics and eccentric training methods will increase tendon strength and resiliency. Once all of that gets addressed, go run (and don’t think about it)!
If you just enjoy endurance training, and aren’t looking to break the 2 hour marathon…
You may want to consider reducing joint impact forces. Remember – impact forces are always there no matter how the foot makes contact with the ground. How that force is absorbed and transmitted through the body is what is important. The easiest way to do this is shortening the stride and increasing the cadence. Thomas Michaud DC, author of Human Locomotion, states, “because the best predictor of future injury is prior injury, you should encourage a running style that accommodates prior injury.”
Knee pain or injury – consider midfoot strike
Achilles injury – may have to consider heel strike (if running at a slower pace), or back off of the running altogether for a period of time to retrain tendon strength.
A key takeaway from all of this is – they are all right, and they are all wrong! It all depends on what you are looking for…