It’s a curiosity really – if we move better, we’ll run better…and when we run better, we move better! How we move affects our running just as much (and possibly even more!) as our fitness.
(Of course our fitness has to keep up with our running ability too…!)
Generally speaking, we’re not taught ‘how to run’. We just go with what happens when we’re unleashed in our trainers!
However, if we move better (and I’ll get around to defining ‘move better’ shortly), we have a greater chance of mitigating our running injuries.
This is largely because we’ll be loading our tissues in a way that allows the forces of running to be dissipated throughout the body more freely.
You see, when there’s appropriate mobility in a joint, the associated muscles of that joint which contribute to the action of running (namely all of them!), will be optimally activated. And this will prevent other areas, and other muscles becoming overloaded, which can potentially lead to break down and injury.
Defn: moving better
And really, herein is my definition of moving better: having the freedom in our joints, and the ability to access that freedom, so that the loading impact of the repeated action can be appropriately dissipated through the tissues.
You may have a different definition of better movement. You might interpret it as being faster, or being able to run for longer – or maybe you’re after both speed and endurance?!
However, when moving better refers to having greater freedom within your joints, the action of running will be both more efficient and more effective.
Efficient meaning a lower incidence of over-loading any particular area because of better distribution patterns, and then less fatigue ensues and therefore running for longer, and achieving greater endurance, is possible.
Effective running from accessing appropriate freedom within the body’s joints will be translated into greater access to and generation of, our inherent power. And this might just end up with us running faster – and all for the same energy expenditure!
They’re actually two sides of the same coin – to run faster and further both stem from the same idea: that if we move appropriately freely through our body, we’re going to be more efficient and effective. I.e. we’re going to get more bang for our buck! ; )
Achieving effective, efficient running
Learning how to move better in our running and to become more effective and more efficient, what we really need to access is a greater awareness of our movement.
Because we’re not able to create changes without first knowing what’s going on to begin with; otherwise put – we cannot learn something new unless we have a barometer of where we are in the first instance. In any field.
Accessing better movement when we’re running is seated in one key area – awareness in our body.
The more awareness we have, the more we have an informed relationship with our body. And this will also help to mitigate injuries. But this time through us changing our behaviour when we’re aware of issues arising.
And let’s face it, running loves to bring up painful issues to the surface!
The upshot of enhancing awareness
Increasing our awareness in our body translates into better movement through several functions:
- Being grounded
Oh the irony when running is all about being in the air! Yes, we need to be positively grounded in order to become powerfully airborne!
It’s that barometer again – we need a gauge against which to measure ourselves. How can we know what our foot is doing when it’s travelling through space* if we don’t know what it does in relation to the ground? Only when we have a discernible picture of ourselves when we’re static, can we assimilate a relatable picture of ourselves when we’re moving. We need an initial benchmark which we can translate into motion. And from which to make changes…
*Not outer space…through the air, I mean!
- Enhanced balance
In crude terms, running, as you probably know, is about jumping from one foot to the other. Over and over and over again.
Being able to balance and control the motion of the standing leg, while at the same time, weight-bear and fully support the swinging leg, is no mean feat. Yet we carry out these fine motor movements all of the time! Subconsciously. In fact, this one is best not thought about actively, but better, trained to occur appropriately.
Have you watched how toddlers waddle from side to side as they’re running? They’re fully entrenched in refining gross movement patterns into more refined, smooth articulated movements during this ‘toddling’ phase.
As we get taller, the waddle from side to side appears less extreme, but it is with a finesse from fine motor control that we require the body to shift from side to side and back again in order to harness the power within the muscles (to optimally fire us forward!).
Enhancing our balance will not only power our running more effectively, but our running will also appear more like an effortless, graceful glide…
The term ‘effortless effort’ springs to mind here…but nothing appears out of nowhere! It takes a lot of work to make it appear ‘effortless’…
- Increased range of movement
We’re back to the definition that I offered for better movement. Greater awareness will enable us to firstly create and then generate an increase range of movement through our joints.
It’s only when we know where we can’t or don’t move freely and fluidly, that we can aim to improve in these areas. Here’s our barometer – what’s the benchmark of ‘where and how do I move right now’…and ‘what am I ideally aiming for?’
Ideally, greater hip extension and a greater stride… Ideally, greater ankle mobility which is reflected in greater hip mobility… Ideally, that greater ankle mobility will give you greater options to move your head. (Your head?! Yes, your head. When you’re running!)
Ideally, greater mobility through your upper chest, and so the greater capacity you’ll have to generate power. (Yes, everything gets involved!)
We are one connected unit, and mobility through one area affects the mobility in every other area. And they all have a role to play in optimising our running!
Your mission this week
Clearly, all of the theory and chat in the world won’t enable the changes, so here’s your task for this week:
During your runs this week, bring your attention to a different part of your body, perhaps your hips (or your shoulders or your ankles), and can you connect to the movement that’s going on there?
Can you focus your attention on the area for a few moments? How does the movement feel? Smooth? Clunky? Even? Does one side feel the same as the other?
Focus on one area at a time. Perhaps one area per run (and you don’t have to spend the entire run thinking about it! Firstly, stay safe! And secondly, enjoy the scenery or the company or your time to problem solve…), but maybe bring your focus to the same area several times during your run.
Most importantly of all
There’s no need to judge what you find. There’s no right or wrong; it’s simply about observing what happens. There is no right or wrong…even if you begin to feel that there’s room for ‘improvement’; it’s not about right or wrong right now, it simply is.. And it is a place from which to start.
Enjoy your running this week! Feel free to drop a line with what you find out over at the Living Green Health Facebook page here.
Otherwise, I will see you again next week where I’ll be adding some extra points about accessing moving better, and then we’ll be looking at the springs in our system!
In the meantime, send your friends over to sign up for the Running Movement Series with this link – it’s not too late, and they’ll get access to all of the insights, plus our fab motivation freebie!
With all good wishes
Living Green Health
Run Breathe Live Green