While there are many factors that contribute to efficient running, for which a comprehensive, individualized assessment is required to gather a full understanding (yes, we do offer those), here are 3 major elements that all runners need:
When we refer to mobility, we typically think about range of motion. Sufficient mobility is necessary to avoid compromised mechanics at the spine and throughout the legs and foot that can lead to increased work and effort, and ultimately, injury. 3 key areas for efficient running are:
- Hip extension – We need to be able to get the leg far enough behind us to avoid compromised spinal positioning and mechanics.
- Ankle dorsiflexion – We should have enough ankle mobility to allow normal alignment through the foot and leg as we move through mid-stance, and to generate force.
- Great toe extension – The big toe must bend upwards with enough mobility to allow us to push off the 1st ray (ball of your foot and big toe). Otherwise, we tend to use areas of the foot that are less stable, increasing required effort and often leading to conditions such as Achilles’ Tendinitis, Plantar fasciitis, and flat feet
Of Course, all this range of motion is of little use if we cannot control it. Excessive mobility without stability can also be harmful and lead to painful conditions and injuries, often to ligaments and joints. These 3 components contribute to stability:
- Ligaments – They provide a structural standpoint to start movement from when healthy and intact by attaching bones to each other.
- Muscles – Our active, contractile stabilizers that are responsible for controlling where and how our limbs move.
- Neuro-control – The brain tells our muscles how to contract to create the movements we are making, including how strongly, when, and for how long.
Runners need to be strong and powerful. Our nerdy physics equation reveals that:
Power = (Force x Distance)/time
Basically, we need to generate as much force to propel our bodies and lift them against gravity in as little time as possible. This requires strength and speed of movement.
As mentioned, there is far more complexity to efficient running. Everyone is different with respect to body structure, genetics, and lifestyle factors that can all affect body mechanics.
If you would like to explore your individual areas for improvement, whether injured or not, get in touch with us today for a Diagnostic Musculoskeletal Running Assessment and Corrective Plan.
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