How not to Run
Matt sent along this link from Bob Prichard of the Somax Performance Institute, which “specializes in improving efficiency in athletes-–rather than focusing on strength and endurance”–all good things =)
Bob’s latest blog post, titled How not to Run looks at some running form metrics you may have considered before, torso forward-tilt angle [slight forward lean is what Chi Running and Pose both seem to teach] and hand tension [less, like “potato-chip hands“]… and others which you may not have been coached on, such as Stride Angle [greater angle is faster] and Toe Lift [avoid this].
Our previous blog post, “On Running Well” focused on a few of these elements, but definitely check out Bob’s blog post “How not to Run” for some cues to watch / coach for as you improve your running economy.
Running form, like squatting, is the subject of much debate but Bob seems to be right on the money. And how do we increase the “Stride Angle” in runners? They “do it every day at Somax by releasing tension and microfibers”, which isn’t explained much in the blog post, but described in another article on Bob’s hypothesis on microfiber reduction:
“microfibers, a mild form of scar tissue, form between the muscles as a result of stress and tension. The stresses are often physical (injuries, overuse)… Once formed, these microfibers no only do not go away, they tend to accumlate over time, making people stiffer as they get older. Microfibers cannot be released by stretching, which is why people who have them find that stretching does not improve their flexibility.”
Unfortunately there’s not much more than that. Gray Cook talks about microtrauma in Athletic Body in Balance, Mike Robertson talks about addressing muscular adhesions with static stretching, and Coach Boyle describes how the biggest change in his Functional Training books has been to talk much more about soft tissue quality, whether you address that through SMR / foam rolling, hands-on care (ART / Graston / etc.) or opposing joint mobility, there’s quite a world of options beyond ye old hip flexor stretch. Alas, I don’t have any easy answers on the best way (for a specific person) to increase stride angle through facilitating hip flexion, except to point people in a few directions I’ve explored myself.
1) Soft tissue quality seems to matter, although whether you improve this via hands-on care / SMR / foam rolling / joint mobility, try things out and ask for help (if you’re in pain or generally immobile, stop and go see a physical therapist)
2) The jury still seems out on static stretching, as it’s hard to show there are injury prevention benefits, and it can make you slightly weaker… Then again, sometimes you are too strong for your own good? =).
3) If you’ve been playing Ultimate for a long time you might have very asymmetrical hip flexion/extension due to lunging only on one side. I have a feeling this catches up with people at some point, and given the way Ultimate loads both the lunging position (hucks & boosts) and the walking / jogging / running / sprint patterns, you’ll eventually start feeling it at the hip itself or one joint up or down (the lumbar spine or knees)
4) Besides soft tissue and the fact that we tend to sit too damn much :(, you have to train hip mobility / movement patterns for them to get better. On the conservative side, I personally like very-low-weight Goblet squats, and single-leg step-ups, with high-knees and Spiderman crawls if they are appropriate for you.
[My physiotherapist has me doing some SlideBoard reverse-lunge work, which I do myself at times with ValSlides, and these seem like good mechanisms to develop strength and motor patterns for hip flexion & extension.]
Okay, enough sitting for me today, time to suit up for some club Ultimate practice =). See you at Potlatch in a few weeks?