EVOLUTION OF RUNNING
Since man’s first early adaptions from Australopithecus to Homo Erectus, as a species we stopped swinging from the trees and started to walk and run on the ground. The foot has had to adapt from the ape’s hand-like appendage to an elongated foot with straightened toes and a propulsive big toe joint. Man ran to attack, to flee and to feed. Therefore it could be argued that running in its purest form is the most natural form of exercise any human can take part in.
CHRONIC RUNNING INJURIES
Many sports involve running – football, tennis, rugby to name but a few. The repetitive nature of running places high demands on the body’s anatomy, especially lower limb. This puts extra strain on the bones, joints and soft tissue structures such as ligaments, tendons, and muscles.
Even for an athlete who has no biomechanical abnormalities, running can lead to injury. It is no surprise therefore that minor misalignments and structural deformities often lead to compensations which cause pain, swelling and dysfunction.
An experienced practitioner can carry out an accurate biomechanical assessment and diagnosis, involving techniques such as digital video gait analysis.
This can be used to provide an effective treatment regime to regain normal sporting activities.
Treatments available include
- orthotics (arch supports)
- stretching and strengthening regimes
- footwear advice
- manipulation and mobilisation techniques
BAREFOOT RUNNING TECHNIQUE
“I must admit I thought long and hard before putting a section on “barefoot running” in the website. However, as a runner as well as a gait specialist, I feel compelled to cover this up and coming development in running, being adopted by many.
What does Barefoot Running mean? Well it certainly doesn’t mean running in bare feet – the term is misleading but it is out there so we are stuck with it!
To be succinct, it is a style of long-distance running which is carried out in a lightweight running shoe, as if you were running barefoot on a beach. On sand in general you would not heel strike in the stance phase of running (i.e. when your foot hits the ground), but would tend to hit the ground mid-to-forefoot. Note the triathlon success at the London Olympics for both Brownlee brothers (Gold and Bronze medals) using a barefoot style.
Barefoot style -initial strike is on mid to forefoot, directly under centre of gravity (hip) giving smooth efficient gait.
Heel strike style Initial strike on heel, directly in front of centre of gravity, causing jarring braking effect in running gait.How does it help?
- The foot spends a greater percentage of the overall run in mid-air rather than on the ground.
- Cadence is generally faster than heel strike running style, (180steps/90 strides per minute).
- This tends to be constant even as speed increases because there is less force going through the foot during running
- Could potentially be used as therapy for chronic repetitive foot and lower limb injuries during running.
To find out more about your running style, you may find digital video gait analysis helpful.