Over the weekend I participated in a discussion about stride length on the Running Discussion Board on Facebook. Basically it was about a keen runner who wanted to increase his stride.
There was a bit of a mixture of advice if I am honest. Some good, some not so good but it did give me a great idea for a blog post so I think everyone is a winner.
Heel Strike, Forefoot or Mid-Foot?
One of the things this post did spark was the whole debate about which part of your foot should be hitting the ground first. Let me tell you now, it really does not matter. You can land on any part of your foot you want, none of the options make you more or less prone to injury.
So what does make a difference?
Firstly, DO NOT try to artificially lengthen your stride. You will end up like the guy in the photo on the right. Over-reaching and landing on the back of your heel underneath a straight leg. This loads up your joints instead of your muscles and has been proven to be a contributing factor to knee injury, shin splints, hip tendon injuries and lower back pain among runners.
How To Fix Over-striding
Unfortunately this type of gait is very very common. It doesn't have to be permanent though. It can easily be fixed with some perseverance and a couple of simple gait tweaks.
All of the following are visible when you compare the 2 runners from the above photo...
1. Run Tall
Keep your head up, look straight forward and stay relaxed through your shoulders. Being tall will actually help you improve forward momentum.
2. Lift your knees and toes up slightly.
Add in a slightly higher knee lift like the guy on the left. While you are doing this, think about also pulling your toes upwards. This will give you a bit more air time and allow you to land underneath yourself more, making more of a mid-foot ground contact with a flexed knee rather than out in front of you under a straight knee
3. Use your arms
Do this by driving your elbows backwards in a natural running motion. I know this sounds daft but it will help you transfer momentum and core strength into your legs and actually drive you forward.
Give these a go for the next 3-4 weeks when you are out on your runs. You should immediately feel like you have more forward momentum and that you are running lighter and not impacting the ground as heavily
faster running Boot Camp
WEDNESDAY EVENINGS AT 7:15PM
£25 PER MONTH (FIRST SESSION IS FREE)
This is not a turn up, do some running and go home sort of session. Instead, each session on the boot camp is designed to help you develop a fluid and efficient running gait that will make you run faster and help you avoid injury.
It is perfect for beginners who want to make that initial start and for intermediate runners who want to get a bit stronger and improve their running style. Each session is run by a personal trainer and sports injury therapist who is a specialists in running gait training. You will be encouraged to work and develop at your own pace throughout the program so don't worry about competing with anyone else just turn up and let me help you enjoy running without having to worry about those pesky injuries holding you back.
Hit the button below to find out more
In the video below I take you through some of my top mobility drills to help mobilise your ankles and hips to allow you to squat deeper, keep good form and ultimately go heavier.
I know the squat is a pretty individual exercise with everyone having slightly different mechanics and compensatory patterns, so while these drills may not work for everyone, they have proven to be a really effective base in helping a lot of my clients get better at squatting.
Integrate them into your warm and perform them regularly for best results and please let me know how you get on in the comments below.
See you next time, Darren
This is something I talk to my face to face clients about a great deal. Especially when they ask me questions like…
“Why don’t we stretch at the end of the session?”
“Shouldn’t we do a warm down so I don’t ache as much?”
The fact of the matter is simple
“STRETCHING AT THE END OF YOUR TRAINING SESSION IS A WASTE OF TIME AND PROBABLY WILL MAKE YOU MORE SORE”
Now as with all the articles I write, this is not just me making stuff up because it suits my purpose. There is a pretty significant amount of evidence around to suggest that this is the case. Check out the links in the reference list at the end of the post to take a look at some of the most up to date research on this subject.
Warm Up Versus Cool Down
So having read the introduction, I’m pretty sure you know where I am going with this one and I will get straight to the point. The warm up is potentially the most important part of your training session and should take up about a third of your training time.
At Faster Fitness Solutions, we are a big advocate of short sharp and intense training sessions to build muscle and drop fat. Our average sessions last around 45 mins so 15 minutes of this will be dedicated to a warm up. Why? Because a well thought out warm up that includes dynamic stretching with a gradual build up in intensity has been proven to improve functional performance (power output, speed, strength and co-ordination) as well as helping you to avoid injury.
I just Want to train to get leaner and more muscular. How does this affect me?
Well the answer to this one is simple. In order to get you more muscular, help you to reduce body fat and help you look more defined we need to be achieving 2 things.
1. We need to get you performing to the best of your ability in every training session. Giving you the ability to lift more, produce more power and go through bigger ranges of motion in all your exercises will ensure you get greater benefits from your training.
2. We need to keep your training consistent and keep you injury free. Being persistent and consistent with your training will ensure you can keep on getting better. Keeping you injury free is a massive part of that. A superior quality mobility and warm up routine will ensure you can achieve optimal technique for all the exercises in your program, making sure you target the right muscles and preventing you from getting injured.
Post Stretching and DOMS
Magrath, Whitehead and Caine, 2014
Herbert, Noronha, Kamper, 2011
Dawson et al, 2005
Dynamic Stretching and the warm up
Ramachandran et al, 2014
Herman et al, 2008
Little and Williams, 2006
Macmillian et al, 2006
21 Day Shred Faster Challenge
This is our amazing free taster program and a great way for you to see what we are all about. Our 21 Day Shred Faster Challenge is completely FREE will provide you with all the focus and direction you need to give your training a huge kick start.
The program is packed full of amazing recipes, workouts, meal plans and high quality coaching to ensure you get your training on track and stay motivated throughout the program and beyond.
Hit the button below to find out more and get started...
Darren has over 10 years experience in the fitness industry as a personal trainer, sports injury therapist and most recently as an educator to other trainers. Originally from South Wales, he went to Liverpool University to study Sports Science and liked the city so much, he decided to stay. Since finishing his degree he set up a thriving personal training and injury rehab business which continues to this day. He has recently moved over to Denby Dale in West Yorkshire and has opened Faster Fitness Solutions, a multi-purpose training and rehabilitation facility located in the heart of the village.