Perfect Your Running Form
“Run like you have enemies behind you”
Posture, Posture, Posture. Dr David Su (Foot & Ankle Specialist) from The Orthopaedic Centre could not emphasise this enough at the Common Running Injuries Talk over the weekend. He brought our attention to how a little slant in running posture can develop into a painful problem.
For an overview of running injuries, we take a page from Tania Tetrault Vrga, owner and head trainer at CrossFit Winnipeg (http://bt.ly/1OyGzKy)
Common running injuries are often inflammatory in nature. They include patellar tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, achilles tendonitis, shin splints and IT band syndrome.
When there is repetitive stress, poor running mechanics, too much volume or lack of quality fuel and recovery, our tissues start to get inflamed and swell. The good news is that there are some strategies you can use to avoid and prevent spring running injuries.
It is of primary importance to learn efficient running technique. Running shouldn’t hurt, and most people can run beautifully if they take the time to learn, using correct methods. While it is true that you need good shoes, don’t fall into the trap of depending on shoes to protect your body against poor running mechanics. Running properly is up to you, not up to your shoes.
Second, learn where your weak links are. Lack of flexibility in the ankles or lack of strength in the gluteal muscles or other hip stabilizers are common causes of injuries and pain in runners.
Including strength and flexibility training as part of your running program can go a long way toward preventing injuries. A good cross-training strength program as well as a hip-opening yoga class might be just what you need.
PREVENTING RUNNING INJURIES
For starters, Dr David Su advises getting posture right.
- Posture is everything. Having a bad running posture can result in spinal disc injury.
- Tight hamstring leads to low back pain as it results in more tension as you bend forward.
- Chronic back, neck and shoulder pain is often a result of bad running posture.
- Imagine your back as a long rubber band. If one part of the rubber band doesn’t move, you will be stretching the other part more intensely. Over time, something will snap and the result will be pain.
Of course, good posture gives you a better view of what is ahead as well as helps with proper breathing while being kind to your joints.
Here’s a tip for achieving the right posture. Imagine a rope pulling from your chest towards a building a level above ground. Immediately, you will be upright and looking straight ahead. Ta-dah! Simple as that.
How do you know if your posture is right? If you are in the gym, look at yourself in the mirror. If you are running outdoors, get someone to video you.
- Straight body with a slight slant to the front –
- Head up looking forward –
- Keep arms loose and elbows at 90 degrees angle –
- Hit the ground with the midpoint of your foot and roll it forward to the toe – .
Dr Su also explained Cadence. Cadence is the measure of footfalls while running. Test this: Over 10 seconds, both feet land a total of 30 times (15 times each leg). Running to a rhythm does not only take you further, it also leaves you less tired! Also, silent foot falls are popular among elite runners. Why? By not landing on your entire weight, your feet are protected which in turn, greatly reduces the risk of potential injuries.
HOW TO NOT RUN INTO TROUBLE
- Do not increase your mileage by more than 10% a week. Use periodisation to improve performance.
- Healing injuries? Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate. If it is still bad after 48 hours, switch between ice and heat. Heat up a pack of peas in a microwave oven and apply to improve lymphatic flow.
- Rotate your running shoes
- Be prepared to throw out your shoes once they have clocked in 500km of mileage.
- Hydrate for better performance.
- Living in an urban country, we need to push our muscles through more regular exercise and stretching.
- Lastly, do not overlook your personal limits. It is good to want to surpass yourself but always keep track of what your body is telling you. We can’t just wake up one fine morning and decide to run like tribesmen.
Dr David Su graduated from the National University of Singapore, obtained post-graduate medical qualifications from the same institution, was accepted as a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh, and served in the public service for 15 years. He joined The Orthopaedic Centre in 2013.
He was awarded a scholarship to undergo subspecialty fellowship training in Foot and Ankle Surgery in Melbourne, Australia at The Park Clinic under Dr Mark Blackney. There he had the privilege to treat a myriad of patients, including elite & Olympic athletes, with foot and ankle conditions ranging from trauma and sports injuries, to lower limb deformities, and degenerative conditions.
He has also worked with Foot and Ankle surgeons in countries including Switzerland, Germany and USA, gaining a global perspective in treating patients.
Appointed as Adjunct Assistant Professor, he taught postgraduate students in the Duke-NUS Medical School and tutored undergraduates in the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore.
He pioneered surgical techniques for brace–free rehabilitation after ankle ligament reconstructive surgery in Singapore.
The father of three has always had a personal interest in sports. Having participated in multiple marathons and Ironman triathlons, he understands the aspirations, needs and expectations of athletes.
Dr David Su considers it an honour, and a deeply humbling experience, to encounter patients in their life’s journey, and to help bring them through to recovery.