THE BIOMECHANICS OF RUNNING
By Mindy Solkin
Owner and Head Coach
The Running Center
Webster defines biomechanics as "the application of the principles and techniques of mechanics to the structure, functions, and capabilities of living organisms". The biomechanics of running is the "technique" or "how to" component of the sport of running. Having good biomechanics (good running form) is an equally important factor to running well, as to having a sound physiological foundation (high VO2 Max, high lactate threshold, high aerobic capacity, etc). It is important to note that many running injuries are caused by faulty biomechanics.
Just like you train your body to develop endurance, stamina and speed to run more miles at a faster pace, so too, can you develop proper running form. Replacing ingrained bad habits with programmed good form is a four-stage process.
Unconscious Incompetence - not thinking about what's being done incorrectly.
This is how the majority of runners cover their distances. They do not think about their running form and so it is hard for them to realize if they are doing anything wrong. This can also be called Disassociation.
Conscious Incompetence - realizing what's being done incorrectly.
If you work with a coach, and they point out what you are doing incorrectly, you will then be able to take note, so that you can make corrections on your run.
Conscious Competence - knowing what's being done correctly.
Although you may have good form (naturally or after being corrected), there are times when you want to think about your form by doing body checks. This is a process known as Association.
Unconscious Competence - not having to think about what's being done correctly.
At this stage, you have made all the corrections to your form, and after running properly for a period of time, you will no longer have to think about what you are doing. It will just come naturally. This is what's known as having "poetry-in-motion".
BASIC COMPONENTS OF RUNNING FORM
Following is the list of components that comprise running form.
1) Posture of entire body.
2) Head and eyes.
4) Arms (arm angle, arm swing and arm height).
5) Hands (grip and position).
6) Hips & buttocks.
7) Stride length/angle.
8) Stride frequency.
10) Foot plant.
11) Foot position.
OTHER FACTORS AFFECTING RUNNING FORM
2) Leg-length discrepancies.
3) Muscle weakness or imbalances.
4) Arch height.
5) Shape of foot.
6) Proper shoes.
The Running Center offers a Biomechanical Analysis that includes a hands-on assessment along with a written prescription for correction. It covers all of the components, as listed above.
© 2004 The Running Center™ All Rights Reserved
Mindy Solkin is the Owner and Head Coach of The Running CenterTM. She is
certified by USA Track & Field (USATF) as a Level III Running Coach (the
highest level) and by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) as a personal
Known as "Coach Mindy" to her runners, she has coached thousands of people
over the past ten years, helping them to achieve their goals on the open
roads and the winding trail, whether it is running their first mile or
pursuing their personal best in the marathon.
Mindy was the creator of the Leukemia-Lymphoma Society's Team In Training
marathon program in New York City and served as its Head Coach from 1994
through 2001. From 1995 through 2002 training over 3,000 runners to run marathons in cities around the world, Mindy was the Head Coach at Reebok
Sports Club/NY. She is also the creator of the Polar Heart Bra® and has been
a PowerBar® Team Elite athlete since 1994. She can be reached at www.TheRunningCenter.com.