Proper running starts with coordination. The body is a system of levers that are designed to move in a most efficient way if properly trained. Unfortunately the levers will move in the way they are taught to move, be it done intentionally or unintentionally. You do not run in a way that comes naturally to you; you run the way you train yourself to run.
To understand proper movement you must first understand Newton’s Laws of Motion.
- A body at rest, stays at rest; a body in motion stays in motion unless acted on by an outside force.
- F=MA: Force = Mass times Acceleration
- For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction
Putting all three together, your body will move when enough force is applied to move it. It will keep moving as long as no opposing force acts on it. The force must be applied the opposite direction you wish to move.
Now lets look at the body. It consists of
- the trunk (frame)
- the pelvic and shoulder girdles (transmission)
- the upper and lower extremities (levers)
To move the body forward, a foot or feet must push down and back against the ground. That is easy enough. The hard part is aligning the trunk, positioning the pelvic and shoulder girdles, and moving the levers in proper sequence over and over again.
The first is to align the trunk with the shoulder and pelvic girdles. Keep three things in mind.
- Chin up – The head is heavy and will pull the trunk out of position if it is forward or back.
- Chest up – This puts the shoulders into correct position and allows you to breath deep.
- Hips up – Puts the pelvic girdle into correct position so legs can swing properly.
Once the trunk and girdles are in proper alignment, the extremities will line up where they should. How can you tell when everything is correctly lined up? You will feel most of your weight on the balls of your feet and you will be able to push up on your toes without moving anything else. If you can not do that you are not properly aligned. Adjust your trunk until you feel the weight on the balls of your feet and can push yourself upward. Once you can do that, then you can work on sequencing the movement of the extremities. These are the movements you need to know.
- The ankle moves the foot up and down.
- The knee moves the lower leg up and down.
- The hip moves the upper leg back and forth.
* The number one movement mistake I see is runners moving the upper leg up and down and the lower leg back and forth. They have the movements backwards.
- The wrist moves the hand up and down
- The elbow moves the lower arm up and down
- The shoulder moves the upper arm back and forth
* Remember, all joints move, even the wrists. Holding one joint stiff leads to tightness in the other joints.
Sequencing the Movement
For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. This is why sequencing your movements is so important. The legs work with the arms, but in opposition to each other. The body is cross wired. The left leg and right arm work together; the right leg and left arm work together at each corresponding joint.
- The ankle and wrist work together in opposition. When the right ankle is flexed downward, so is the left wrist.
- The elbow and knee work together in opposition. When the right knee is flexed, so is the left elbow.
- The hip and shoulder work together in opposition. When the right hip flexed, so is the left shoulder.