As an adult you may have worked out a great way of running, but you probably have not.
Yesterday we had the pleasure of being involved in the Samford Fun Run! It was a great event for an excellent cause and it was so wonderful to see well over 400 people running and walking their way around Samford!! Running an event like this might be fun for some, but it is definitely not easy. In this article we ask the question... do we need to think more about how we run?
Running as an activity has a wide following. Almost 250,000 Australians are registered runners for Parkrun, a network of free weekly 5km events across the country. Major fun run events continue to grow in participants and number. Conversely in a 2015 Australian study of over 9000 people, almost 80% of adults were classified as having ‘low-sedentary’ activity lifestyles (1.2.3).
While running is only one form of physical activity, it is a cheap, accessible, and generally safe. Unfortunately though for those who don’t run regularly, it is often intensely unpopular.
It is remarkable how often you will hear people say “oh but I’m not a runner” or more simply “I don’t run”.
So are people actually ‘runners’ or 'not runners’?
There is no doubt that in the adult population some people find running much easier than others. Sometimes this is to do with the amount of actual running they have practiced and their general cardiovascular fitness, but for others it might be because of a bio-mechanical advantage they gain (or miss out on) from some combination of physical structure, muscle strength and motor pattern efficiency.
The good news is that many of these factors are not set in stone by our genetics!
Running is actually a skill!
We are not born knowing how to run. As young children we gradually learn to control our own body. Genetic features, like being particularly tall or short influence how we learn to move, but so do many many environmental features. In this early phase of life we learn to run more by trial and error than by some idealistic design.
Most running athletes spend huge amounts of time and effort focussing on improving their running technique and form. To maintain this form while running they need to build strength, body awareness and tissue resilience.
In the study mentioned above, only a dismal 18.6% of people met the recommendations for muscle-strengthening activities. Not many people are able to get better at running by just running more. The quickest and most significant improvements in running ability are often a result of technique and strength improvements. A planned and gradual increase in training load is then required to build up your cardiovascular fitness and your bodies ability to recover quickly.
Regular running with poor biomechanics or rapidly increasing training volume can have significant consequences. 'Overuse injuries' associated with running are very high, injuries are frequently the reason people quit running, and if not picked up quickly these injuries can be frustrating to recover from. Additionally, evidence for choosing footwear correctly is slim and awareness of running technique is generally poor.
So it can be helpful then to think of running as a skill rather than a genetic right. It is not feasible or really even possible to identify a 'recipe like' list of what you need to do to be a better runner. The key to your improvement might be to do with your technique, strength, mobility, training practices, footwear, medical conditions or very likely a combination of a number of factors. So if you want to improve your running (from whatever level you are currently) it may well be worth talking to your local Physiotherapist, Medical Professional or Running Expert to help identify your potential areas for improvement in this wonderful skill!
B.Phty (Hons), G.D. Paed. Neuro. Rehab.
Tim has 9 years of Physiotherapy experience and is an expert in Paediatric (Baby’s and Children’s) Physiotherapy. Tim’s the person to see if you have any concerns about your baby or child’s movement skills or development.
Tim is co-owner and director of The Movement Team. Tim also holds an Advanced Physiotherapist position within a Child Development Service in the public health sector.
Tim has worked across the breadth of paediatric health (acute hospital, disability care, developmental, community and private clinics) and has completed numerous national and internationally recognised education courses in topics including developmental orthopaedics, high risk infant management, respiratory functioning and infant movement.
Tim's formal training consists of:
Bachelor Physiotherapy (Hons) - University of Queensland
Graduate Diploma Paediatric Neurological Rehabilitation - University of Western Australia
Tim additionally holds the following positions and memberships:
Chairperson of the Queensland Paediatric Physiotherapy Clinical Network 2013 - present
National Paediatric Group Member - Australian Physiotherapy Association
The clinical information included in this article is of a general nature and might not apply to every family. Please see your local health professional for individualised developmental advice.
- http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40279-015-0331-x What are the Differences in Injury Proportions Between Different Populations of Runners? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Bas Kluitenberg et al.
- http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/sms.12346/full The NLstart2run study: Incidence and risk factors of running-related injuries in novice runnersB. Kluitenberg et al.
- http://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-016-2736-3 The descriptive epidemiology of total physical activity, muscle-strengthening exercises and sedentary behaviour among Australian adults – results from the National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey. Bennie et al.