When it comes to the realm of running, biking and swimming many of us just get up one day and decide to pick up one of these skills. But that is the point all of us seem to forget, all three activities are skills.
This means that there are specific skill sets, techniques, and strength levels that one needs to run efficiently. Without having a combination of the above running, biking, and swimming all become more taxing on the body and can eventually cause injury.
This past weekend we hosted Jay Dicharry for his seminar Treating the Triathlete. This was an awesome seminar that presented great clinical information backed up by quality research on how to rehab/train the endurance athlete.
(Note: This blog post is going to focus on the running component of the seminar)
Running in itself places high amounts of forces on the body. How high? Ground reaction forces can amount to roughly 2.6% of our body weight. Take this example to put this into perspective. A 135 lbs runner will experience 335 lbs of force per step they take.
This would be the equivalent of single leg squatting 335lbs. Now, here at Perfect Stride, we do not know any body who can single leg squat this much weight. So how is it possible to run if we have all of these forces acting on our bodies?
This is because only half the forces our bodies have to produce when we run are from active muscle contractions, the other half is from elastic energy. This is why it is extremely important to be strong and have good technique to be an efficient runner. If we lack strength, every time we run, our bodies are not able to keep up with the demands and over time we have pain. If our technique is bad, it increases the amount of forces that go through our body, making us less efficient and increases our risk for injury.
The loading rate when we run can be influenced by 3 factors.
1. Contact Pattern – Our cadence and position of foot in relation to our center of gravity.
- Increasing our cadence (until a certain point) can decrease the amount of force that goes through the body. Current literature suggests that the optimal cadence when running is ~180 steps per minute.
- Having our foot land closer to our center of gravity (closer to the body) helps increase the elastic energy and decreases the loading rate on the body.
2. Postural Alignment – Our bodies posture when we run have the biggest impact on the loading rate on the body.
3. Limb Stiffness – or our ability to absorb impact and create force. This component has to do with rate of force development (power) and strength.
The above three facets of running are how we can improve running efficiency through rehab and training. If you would like to schedule a running evaluation with us, click here.