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I Am A Runner Part One
Published on 24 February 2017 by Daniel Apostol, updated on 02 May 2017
I call myself a runner.
If you call yourself a runner, then this blog/blog series is addressed to you.
I share this passion with you, I share this love with you. For most people it’s a way to live, for others it’s a healthy lifestyle. But what happens when running becomes less enjoyable because you’ve got yourself an injury? You know you can’t stop running, you know you can’t stop being YOU! You are a runner, and you will hate everyone around you telling you ’That’s what you get for running!’.
I won’t tell you that, I won’t stop you running, instead I will try to educate you more about running and the complexity of it to help you look after yourself and your passion. Yes we are born to run, and it’s something deeply rooted in our genes, but it’s not just as simple as opening the door and going outside for a run, a lot of things can happen, or can go ‘wrong’, and there are a lot of variables to consider to.
Are you taught how to run? Are you self-taught to run? Obliviously running is not rocket science, it’s just one foot in front of the other until you get tired, right? Well let’s just hope that after reading this, your mind will change a little bit. Today I will start with foot placement/striking placement.
Foot strike – it’s supposed to be under your body mass so that your foot strikes underneath your body and less in front of your body, striking more in front of your body is called ‘over strike’ - this will increase the loading rate at your knee level and cause problems - but I will talk more about that in my next blog.
Where are you landing your foot in your forward progression? Is it relatively close? Is the tibia in a vertical angle with the ground close to you? Or in an oblique angle and further away from you? Are you landing with the knee almost extended? You are advised to land under your body mass, but, obviously for us to propel forward the foot must land in front of us to some extent. Here is the trick, the shorter the step is - meaning the more under your body the step is, the less shock your body has to absorb. With decreased step length (shorter steps) and increased step rate (more steps per minute - aka cadence - which will be our next topic) the tibia gets more vertical to the ground and closer to you, and we are talking about 20,000-50,000 steps in a running session!
Imagine the amount of shock going through your body. Let’s do a simple maths equation. With every step you take, when running, you have 4 times your body weight going through your body as a shock, multiply that with 75 kilograms (average kilograms of a 180cm male) that’s 300 kg…..300 kg of force in your body every step you take, now multiple that with 30,000 steps you take per running session, if you are a serious runner, and you’re looking at 9 million kg force in your body in a normal running routine!
Do you think that is likely to affect your healing response after running and your health in general? Especially joint health? Plus, that calculation applies to a perfectly healthy person with the presumption that the force won’t increase in your joints because of compensation, inhibition, or abnormal bio-mechanics. Imagine what will happen when something goes wrong? Imagine the increase in loading then.
So, if we are talking about foot strike I need to ask you: Are you a heel striker? Are you a mid-foot striker? Or are you a forefoot striker? Commonly 5% are heel strikers, 25% are mid foot strikers and the rest are forefoot strikers (including me). I’m not against heel striking until it gives you problems. The concerns with heel striking are higher rates of loading, faster ground reaction force and increased impact force (I will elaborate on this in further blogs). If heel striking causes you patellofemoral joint pain (pain in front of the knee) or pain to the side of the knee (iliotibial band syndrome) then it’s a good idea to change to a more mid-foot to fore-foot strike. One easy way to do this is by increasing your cadence (cadence = how many steps you take per minute).
A new study found that by increasing your cadence by 7% you decrease up to 18 - 20% of the load on your tibia and knee joint. This data is very important if you suffer from a tibial stress fracture, or ITB syndrome or patellofemoral joint pain and you are looking to decrease the amount of spiral load travelling up your tibia.
And hopefully this will lead us very well to our second blog which will be all about cadence. Keep an eye out for it. Until next time.
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