The Role of Biomechanics in Running: How Proper Technique Enhances Performance and Reduces Injury Risk

Collaboration with Ochy – running biomechanics app

Biomechanics goes together with physiology, combining different areas. Running biomechanics have been studied a lot, but studies have not been able to demonstrate the superiority of one running technique over others. There are as many running styles as there are runners. There are as many differences among professionals as there are among regular runners. One technique is not more optimal or more prone to injury than others.

The most common and popular topic of controversy is the strike style. Is a toe or heel strike better than the other or does pronation or supination increase the risk of injury more? As long as the running is painless and the foot land on the ground below the body’s center of gravity, there is usually no need to change the running style. Even among the best runners in the world, there are all possible styles.

Running can be divided into smaller parts, from the moment the foot hits the ground to the midstance phase and to the take-off and finally to the flight phase. Each different stage has its own recommendations for the degree angles of the joints, according to the activation level of each muscle or muscle group. Before starting to look at the technology so closely or starting to change it, it is worth paying attention to general technical issues.

Biomechanical factors that reduce the risk of injury

Various factors are associated with running injuries, such as age, physiological factors, load, training suitability, previous injuries, and psychological factors. Running injuries are rarely sudden, they are usually overuse injuries when the load is increased too quickly. In addition to quantitative load, running speed affects injuries. Continuous high-intensity training often raises the total load too high.

In terms of running technique, cadence (=step frequency) and stride length play a significant role. The ideal cadence is often considered to be around 180 steps per minute, but this is greatly influenced by the running speed and the stride length. However, a cadence rate that is too low is often a sign of a too-long stride length. This leads to jumpy running, and the legs are subjected to extra impact.

If the amount of training and the physical stress are appropriate, attention can be paid to the running form. Discomfort or pain in the ankle, foot, knee or lower leg can be one reason to change the way you run, but before making changes you should consider other things. Often, a change in the entire stride style is a big factor, which can mask other problems or bring new ones. If the leg land under the body, the reason can be found in other body positions, half differences and muscle activation.

Techniques to improve running.

The back should remain relatively straight and slightly forward while running. The pelvis stays up so that the leg has room to work. A seated position can be a sign of tight hip flexors or weak core support. One-sided hip failure when the foot is on the ground is often a sign of weakness in the quadratus lumborum and obliques. When the hip drops, the knee can also fail from below, putting more pressure on it, which is reflected down to the ankle. In this case, the extra vertical movement also often occurs during running.

If the body’s support fails at some point, the step often collapses, resulting in an increased ground contact time and wasted energy, together with a slower pace. In pronation, the inner edge of the foot descends to the ground. For some, this only happens when running, which is partly natural because the foot also acts as a shock absorber. But if the movement causes pain, or the foot is clearly lowered while standing, it can be strengthened. Different supported shoes and insoles should not automatically be the final solution. For that, they can also make the foot lazy.

Running techniques can be developed with various technique exercises (drills), which are dynamic exercises. The purpose of these is to develop coordination, agility, balance and sense of position. Running technique problems caused by a lack of muscle strength or activation can often be corrected with strength training. If these methods do not help, larger changes can be considered, such as a change in stride style.

Biomechanical analysis tools – Ochy

It can be difficult to visualize your own running. It is often convenient to photograph running from different directions, such as from the side, back and front. By slowing down the video, you can see the technical elements of running. The Ochy app offers good help here. You can record a video directly in the app or insert a pre-recorded video. The app calculates the different angles for you, based on which you can look at, for example, the position and movement of the head, back, hands, and work of the legs. External examination often helps to understand one’s own movement and the position of the limbs.

The app also works as a good aid for coaches, as it makes it easier to work, for example, on the field, without extra equipment. You also don’t have to mark points and calculate angles separately, which speeds up giving feedback. Find out more about the app here:

running Biomechanics ochy

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