posted on 7/07/2014 3:38:00 AM
Top tips to perfect your running
By Jason T Smith
Running is one of the most cost-effective, calorie-burning and stress-relieving exercise outlets, but do you feel like you’re not getting as much out of your running as you could? Perhaps it could be your technique! The right technique is crucial to reap the rewards of running – these few simple tips will have you lunging for your gym shoes on a regular basis.
Partner up with a physiotherapist
If you want to develop a regular running regime it is important to seek the guidance of a physiotherapist to assess your running technique, treat any pain or pre-existing injuries and keep you injury-free.
Once your physio gives you the thumbs up, it’s time to hit the track with these proven methods.
Test your technique
· Be careful to not bob up and down too much. Stay flat and smooth.
· Maintain a neutral head position and look ahead. If you look down or push your chin out and head up it will throw your body out of alignment.
· Maintain low and relaxed shoulders, not raised and tight ones. If your shoulders are tensed, it affects your posture, so make note of them as you tire. If they’re creeping up, shake the tension out.
· Keep your torso and back upright; don’t hunch forward. This can lead to your pelvis tilting forward, placing pressure on your lower back and throwing your body out of alignment.
· Keep elbows bend at 90 degrees and your arms swinging forward and back, not across your body.
· Relax hands and wrists.
· Learn the correct foot strike placement. Do not land with your heel out in front of your knee. Land on your mid-foot (not heel or toes).
· Project your body forward and upward by pushing off the ground with maximum force while hitting the ground softly with each step. Allow your knee to be slightly flexed on impact to allow a natural bend to occur resulting in fluid movement.
Run with a companion
One of the best tricks to learning endurance and maintaining technique is the ‘talk test’. If you and your companion can hold a consistent conversation without too much puffing, then you will have a better chance of perfecting a sustainable pace. The conversation will also keep you distracted from fatigue when your technique is often compromised.
Strength from sand
Ditch the shoes and hit the sand to strengthen your leg muscles as well as learn control over your breath. Start with hard sand but progress to soft for a better workout, and focus on your technique. The added difficulty will require close attention to your style to ensure endurance.
Predominantly, running on a treadmill is not the best way to improve your technique. If training for an event it is best to replicate the terrain of the race to establish a confident style of running. Additionally, training outdoors has other associated benefits such as sunlight, fresh air and space.
Make time for it
Making the commitment to running is an integral process in adopting a perfected technique. Actively writing your running days into your diary will make it a ‘set-in-stone’ priority. Joining a running group will also add a social aspect, which will motivate you to go and improve.
Making a commitment to perfecting your technique will instill a confidence in your stride. Remember, running is a form of ‘stress’ placed on the body’s structure and internal organs. The body releases endorphins, otherwise known as a ‘feel-good’ hormone, to counteract the stress and make us feel good.
Stay mentally motivated
Mental preparation is just as important as physical technique. Create small milestones as well as long-term goals. Simply achieving milestones and observing and enjoying the positive physical changes in your body are enough for most people to go from running novices to committed runners.
Partnering with a friend to run can sustain motivation as well as having an audacious goal.
When setting out a running routine I would recommend scheduling your runs in your diary just as you would an appointment or meeting.
Most people will start to notice an improvement in their physical and cardiovascular condition and fitness within 2-4 weeks of running twice per week. With attention to technique, along with consulting a physiotherapist, you will see your running ability nourished and strengthen noticeably.
Physical and psychological benefits of running
1. Maintaining optimal physical health
Running improves cardiovascular fitness, strengthens muscles and, because of its weight-bearing nature, can help to build strong bones.
2. Weight loss
Running is a fantastic calorie-burning activity and creates a strong, lean physique.
3. Prevents disease
Maintaining a healthy body weight and conditioning the cardiovascular system are the best preventions for disease, along with proper nutrition. Research also shows that running increases the body’s good (HDL) cholesterol.
Jason T Smith is the founder of Back In Motion Health Group, Australia’s leading provider of physiotherapy and related services. Jason’s new book, Get Yourself Back in Motion, is available at Back In Motion practices around Australia, major book retailers and online bookstores. RRP $34.95. Find your nearest stockist via www.backinmotion.com.au and keep in touch with Jason via Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/BackInMotionHealthGroup) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/GYBIM).
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