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When it comes to running, how efficiently you move is crucial for your performance. One important factor influencing this efficiency is called Running Economy (RE). If not addressed early, insufficient running economy can ruin your performance and lead to running-related injuries or worst case - quitting running altogether!! PLEASE NOTE: this blog offers a general overview of running and does not encompass all aspects of the activity.

 

WHAT PHYSIOLOGICAL FACTORS MAY INFLUENCE MY RUNNING ECONOMY?

  • How you move in terms of space and time (spatiotemporal factors)

  • How your lower limbs move (kinematics)

  • The forces and stress involved in your movement (kinetics)

  • How your muscles and nerves function together (neuromuscular factors)

  • The interaction between your shoes and the terrain you're running on (interface)

  • How your upper body moves during running (locomotion)

 

 

 

WHAT STRATEGIES CAN IMPROVE MY RUNNING ECONOMY?

  • Choosing a stride length that's slightly shorter than what feels natural for you

  • Reducing how much your body bounces up and down (lower vertical oscillation)

  • Aiming for a specific alignment between foot placement and the direction your leg is moving

  • Not extending your hips and knees too much when pushing off the ground

  • Keeping your arms swinging while you run

  • Using your leg muscles less when pushing off the ground (toe-off phase)

  • Increasing your lower extremity stability and strength (some great tips in the video below)

 

 

 

WHAT EXTERNAL FACTORS CAN CHANGE/IMPROVE MY RUNNING ECONOMY?

  • Wearing shoes that interact well with your chosen terrain

  • Going barefoot or using lightweight shoes

  • Wearing custom orthotics or over-the-counter inner soles

 

KEEP AN OPEN MIND WITH YOUR RUNNING ECONOMY...

There are other factors that might not have a clear relationship with running economy, like how your foot contacts the ground, the force upon impact, and how much your body leans forward during running. Overall, a lot of the important things happen when you're pushing off the ground, suggesting this phase is closely linked to running economy. But, there are some problems with how these studies are done, like comparing different things, looking at one thing at a time, and studying short-term changes. Future research should focus on studying runners over time and looking at all aspects together to really understand how to run more efficiently. Therefore, if someone suggests a certain way of running to save energy, it's good to be cautious and consider all the different factors that could be involved.

WHAT CAUSES RUNNING INJURIES?

Runners can be prone to injuries for several reasons, and it's often a combination of factors. Here are some common reasons why runners may experience injuries:​

  • Overtraining: Running too much, too soon, or without adequate recovery can lead to overuse injuries. Overtraining doesn't allow the body enough time to recover, increasing the risk of stress fractures, tendonitis, and other injuries.

  • Poor Running Mechanics: Inefficient running form or poor biomechanics can place excessive stress on certain joints and muscles, leading to injuries. Issues like over striding, improper foot strike, and inadequate core stability can contribute to problems such as 'runners knee'.

  • Inadequate Warm-up and Cool Down: Skipping these routines can increase the risk of injuries. Proper warm-up prepares the muscles for activity, and a cool down helps the body transition to a resting state, reducing muscle soreness and stiffness.

  • Footwear Issues: Wearing inappropriate or worn-out running shoes can contribute to injuries. The wrong type of shoes or shoes that have lost their support may lead to problems like shin splints or plantar fasciitis.

  • Muscle Imbalances: Weakness or imbalances in certain muscle groups, such as the core, hips, and glutes, can lead to poor stability and coordination, increasing the risk of injuries.

  • Diversify Training: Relying solely on running without incorporating other training activities can lead to problems. External training outside of running helps diversify the stress on the body and supports overall fitness.

  • Rapid Increases in Intensity or Volume: Sudden spikes in training intensity, duration, or frequency can overwhelm the body's ability to adapt, increasing the risk of injuries. Gradual progression is crucial to allow the body to adjust to new training loads.

  • Environmental Factors: Running on uneven or hard surfaces, extreme weather conditions, or hilly terrains can contribute to injuries. It's essential to consider environmental stressors and how they can impact your running.

  • Genetic Factors: Some individuals may be more predisposed to certain injuries due to genetic factors, such as joint structure, foot arch, or inherent biomechanical traits.

HOW CAN I MINIMISE RUNNING INJURIES?

To reduce the risk of injuries, it's crucial for runners to incorporate proper training principles, including gradual progression, strength training, flexibility exercises, and adequate rest and recovery. Regular assessments of running form and addressing potential issues early on can also contribute to injury prevention. Manual therapy can help fine tune your running performance by addressing restricted and dysfunctional areas of the body. 

If you're a runner experiencing persistent pain or difficulties, or needing a tune-up, book yourself in today to see if this type of treatment works for you.

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