Run biomechanics – Run happy

Become the most efficient runner you can

Your running biomechanics is the movement through your gate and is a combination of strength, flexibility and alignment in the key areas – foot, knee and hip. The gait cycle starts when the foot touches the ground and ends when the same foot makes contact with the ground once again. The cycle is often divided into two phases to analyse; the stance phase – foot on the ground and the swing phase – foot off the ground.

Mechanics  =  Strength  •  Flexibility  •  Alignment

The better your biomechanics is the more efficient runner you will be, and the better understanding you have will enable you to work on your form. If you are running efficiently you will be expending the least amount of energy possible for each stride taken, meaning you will fatigue later.

  1. Foot strikes the ground – ideally on the outside edge of the foot, at the midfoot or forefoot. (Heal strikes result in higher breaking force)
  2. During landing the ankle should be in a neutral position.
  3. The transition – the foot moves inwards, heal settles back and supports the body.
  4. Propulsion and toe off.
  5. Hip extends – a stronger hip extention results in faster speed.
  6. Initial swing – optimize the vertical and horizontal aspects of the stride (Cadence comes into play – find a balance that is comfortable for you, don’t over-stride or leap to high)
  7. Mid swing – lower leg passes under the hips with the knee leading.
  8. Terminal swing – landing under your knee and hips and near to the centre of your body.

Guide to over pronation and under pronation (Supination)

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Over pronation – Combination of ankle dorsi-flexion, rearfoot eversion and forefoot abduction. (Ankles slightly in and toes out) The impact on the inside of the foot. Recommend motion control trainers with structured cushioning and arch support.

Supination – Insufficient inward roll of the foot. (When landing toes will be facing slightly inward) Impact on the outer part of the foot. Recommend stability trainers for cushioning and support or neutral trainers if under pronation is minimal.

Injury

Severe over-pronators may be at an increased risk of injury because of the increased internal tiobial rotation (Shinbone) which results in a mechanical dilemma at the knee. Be sure to see a specialist and run in the correct trainers.

Footwear selection

Neutral

Provides cushioning but less foot control than motion control trainers. Softer, lighter and more shock absorbent material in the posterolateral aspect of the heal to better cushion at the heal strike and provide a better transition from heal to the mid-foot and toe.

Ideal for – Typical foot structure, neutral foot types.

Stability

Probably the most popular shoe in the running community offering a mix of cushioning support and motion control. Control material placed near the middle arch of the shoe, usually giving a multiple density midsole. The medial aspect would have high density foam to reduce compression and control the maximum amount of foot pronation. High density foam also near the arch and will limit peak rearfoot eversion.

Ideal forRunners who don’t excessively pronate but do have some characteristics that place increased pronatory and torsional forces on their foot and lower leg while running.

Motion control ( Maximum support)

Supportive and controlling and help with excessive pronation with a significant amount of pronation control material. High density foam extends to the rearfoot to limit excessive arch deformation and excessive rearfoot eversion.

Ideal forA runner with excessive rearfot eversion biomechanics. If you over-pronate this shoe will provide extra stability and reduce potential injury.


Running biomechanics has interrelationships with muscular strength, flexibility and anatomical alignment so I would highly recommend plenty of strength training in areas such as your ankle, knee and hip along with the muscle groups in the legs and core – and also stretching routines to aid you becoming the best runner you possibly can, injury free.

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