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  • Writer's pictureAlexa

Running Technique Analysis

I work with lots of runners who are keen to avoid injury, and improve the efficiency of their running. So I've put together a 90 minute Running Technique Analysis that really digs into how you are running and whether you might be able to tweak things to improve the way you run.

So, what can you expect in a session?

I start with a chat about you, your running, your life, your other sports and hobbies and what you want to achieve with your running. That helps me adapt the session so you get the most out of it.

After a warm up and some drills to get you moving, and so I can watch how you move, I do some video analysis of you running when you are nice and fresh. Depending on your goals this can be running at easy and faster paces, as our technique often changes depending on the speed you run at.

I can also do a mini speed session with you to tire you out and then video you again to see how your running changes when you are fatigued.

Four photos from a technique analysis

We'll go through the results of the analysis and pick out some key areas to focus on in the session. These may be technique queues to adjust your running style, stretching to allow muscles to achieve a higher range of motion or strength or activation work to get muscles working harder. You get time to practice and guidance on how to integrate things into your training.

Don't worry about remembering it all, as you'll get a full report after the session with what we covered and including photos from your video analysis!

How can this benefit you?

There is scientific evidence to suggest that improving your running form reduces your injury risk, as your body is working efficiently and as designed. This means you can train more consistently and improve your performances. There is also some evidence to say that "marginal gains" can be had from tweaking performance so that more of the energy you expend whilst running is focussed on propelling you forwards, not leaking out in unhelpful ways.

Why look at technique?

Running technique has become quite a hot topic over the past few years, with lots of views from movements like Chi Running through to a tie in between technique and foot strike. In this post I'll try to make sense of some of it from a coaching perspective.

The idea behind looking at running technique is to improve the efficiency with which the runner moves; at a high level you want as much energy going into propelling you forwards and not slowing your down, or moving you too far up and down or side to side. This means your energy will be more effectively turned into powering you forwards. The other key side to technique is looking at where forces are being transmitted throughout your body as you run; are the muscles that are designed to cope with the forces being used or are other muscles having to get involved and getting overloaded?

Think, for a moment, back to school science lessons; force is made up of both mass and acceleration. This means that the total force through your body can only be changed overall by reducing the amount of acceleration your body goes through (reduce training volume) or by reducing your mass (making your running kit or yourself lighter). So, any changes to technique are not reducing forces or impact, they are just moving it around the body. The aim is to make sure the force goes to the areas of the body that are designed or trained to cope with it, and that it isn't wasted by inefficient movement.

So primarily running technique improvement helps reduce injury risk, but the knock on effect of that is better performance as you've been able to do more consistent training.

For some people you can tweak technique and also unlock speed, for example by stopping them over-striding and effectively "braking" with each foot fall.

So how does technique analysis work?

- You can get a good general sense of how someone is running just by watching them. I'm sure you've seen a runner who looks like they are doing something slightly out of the ordinary; often unusual arm movement or body position is easiest to spot, as those body parts are moving more slowly. Once you get a sense of how someone is running overall you can start to hone in on specific areas of the body and to piece together an overall picture, practicing really helps to hone this skill

- The other way is to do video analysis of a runner and then slow down the footage to get an even better level of detail about exactly what's going on. Minor movements and those that occur very quickly are easier to spot this way.

- You also need to bear in mind that a runners technique will change with the speed they are running at; very broadly speaking the faster you run the better your technique will be. Also levels of fatigue have a big impact on technique and form too; as you'll often see if you've ever looked at your race photos at different points in a longer race!

Once you've taken a look at someone running there are two different approaches that you can take;

- Using queues, practice and guided experimentation you can introduce tweaks to technique gradually into training, bearing in mind that you are moving forces to different areas of the body and that can have knock on impacts that you didn't expect

- You can work on strengthening exercises to help make muscles stronger and more able to withstand the forces they are being asked to deal with; this can be particularly helpful if someones technique changes when fatigued as stronger muscles will be more fatigue resistant

It's key that any changes to technique are implemented gradually, and ideally not when building up for a key race or event. Like any new training you need to allow time for the body to be stressed, recover and adapt to become stronger.

In a general article such as this I can't possibly start to say what you should do in terms of running technique as an individual, as everyone is wonderfully unique and different, but I hope this summary of the principles and benefits has helped.

You can find out more about the Running Technique Analysis at my website here, let me know any questions!

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