The more you run and hang around runners, the more you’ll hear the term “biomechanics.” You’ll hear about good biomechanics, bad biomechanics, biomechanic issues, biomechanic injuries…but what exactly are biomechanics?
A major concern at the outset of a training program is proper form. Just as the natural pattern of breathing is unique to every individual, the basic biomechanical tendencies of each person will be unique. Initially it is important to just run in a manner that feels comfortable. Most people get into trouble when they try to run with what they consider ideal form & thus disturb their natural flow. Rather than look around at another person’s form, attempt to dial in on what feels good to you. After a few weeks you can begin to work on a few basic principals that will help fine tune your particular style.
These principals can be divided into 3 distinct areas: the lower leg (below the knees), the core (from your upper legs to your ribcage) and arm swing (head, shoulders, arms & hands.) The most important area of concern, in terms of injury, is the lower leg. Wherever the feet go the rest of the body will follow.
You should also focus on the core of your body, which will help in general strength & stability. Eastern meditation & fighting traditions emphasize a strong core as both the foundation of power and balance. This is attained through the very basic methods of sit-ups, crunches, back extensions, flutter kicks, leg extension and the like. You need to develop a regimen that works for you and incorporate it into your weekly schedule.
The other basic area you should focus on in terms of form is your arm swing. The best way to visualize proper arm swing is to imagine a line drawn directly up from your belly button through your eyes. This is your center and we want all limbs to remain on their side of the line. If your elbows point out to the side then you can guarantee that your arms will swing across your center as you begin to fatigue. You need to limit this if not eliminate it altogether!
These basic principals of form should be implemented slowly and only after you have grown comfortable with your natural biomechanics; it’s unlikely that you will be able to identify your own issues, since you cannot watch yourself run. This is where biomechanical analysis comes in!
Good biomechanical analysis involves a video recording in an outdoor setting, where you can run as naturally as possible. You will run 16-20 short repeats of 10-15 seconds each for side, front, and rear views. You should wear running shoes, tight pants or running shorts, and a tight top to ensure that the intricacies of your running form are clearly visible.
Afterwards, you should meet with the expert who has gone over your video, frame by frame, to discuss his or her observations. This information can be used to identify the cause of recurring injuries, identify inefficiencies and start crafting a custom plan for working on these problems. It is recommended to have at least one follow up session 2-4 months after the initial analysis to reevaluate and discuss what changes have been implemented.
You cannot have just anyone be in charge of videotaping your run, and you are most likely far from qualified to analyze your own biomechanics. You really do need an expert in this case, someone who knows what to look at and how to look at it.
Rogue is now offering this service to anyone who is ready to find out more about themselves and their running – whether you hope to fix an underlying cause of injury or want to become more efficient and thus faster, biomechanical analysis should be your next step. You can register for the analysis – including the video session, a one-on-one meeting with an expert and a followup session – on our website. While the cost is low for this type of service – only $199 – you can make it even more cost effective by packaging it with your Austin Marathon or Half Marathon training program.