Improve your running biomechanics

Tips for how to improve your running biomechanics!

Running is made up of 5 body actions performed as a linear movement. This movement is made up of an acceleration, speed and deceleration phase. These 5 body actions need to be preserved to maintain speed and a stable posture while we run. Without strength in these actions, we create an energy leak losing the efficiency and productivity of our movement. The aim of this blog is to help you improve the efficiency and enjoyment you get whilst running, whilst reducing potential injuries. It is advised that you see one of the teams at Hands On Health Care Clinic for further advice and assessment on how to get the most out of your runs.

5 body actions of running and how to train them

1. Arm Action

Starting at the top. It is important to use your shoulder as the pivot point for your arms when running. The shoulder has a direct connection to the hips through the Latissimus Dorsi via the lumbar fascia. The movement cycle of opposite arm and leg allows the use of elastic energy. A runner’s shoulder should move to take their thumb all the way from their hip during shoulder extension to level with their lip during shoulder flexion. Shoulder motion should not create any twist in the trunk as this would result in a loss of energy.

Exercise Sitting Arm Action

  1. Sit up tall with legs extended forwards
  2. Bend elbows to 90degrees
  3. Drive elbows alternatively backwards
  4. increase speed until they move so fast you are bouncing off the ground.


2. Leg Action

In the acceleration phase, the legs should move in a piston-like manner. During the speed phase, the motion should be more cylindrical. The legs should not be “cast-out” in front of the body. If you land with your heel in front of your body, your leg can absorb the force of your body, slowing your run down. If you are using your legs to pull your body forward you are placing excess stress on your hamstring behind your knee.  This can lead to the Hamstring being overloaded and becoming painful. Pulling forward can also contribute to shin splints from overloaded Tibialis Anterior.

Exercise Wall Absolute Speed Cycle

  1. Stand on one leg with opposite hand on a wall
  2. Place lifted foot down half a foot in front of down leg
  3. Pull foot through, extending the hip
  4. Keep the leg tight and return to starting position and hold.
  5. Repeat 5 – 10 times.

3. Hip Separation

We want enough hip separation to be able to create force and propel ourselves forward.  If you only lift your foot a few inches off the ground there is a little hip separation and not enough force is created. Too much hip separation will compromise our lower back and posture becoming a cause of runner’s low back pain.

Exercise Wall Posture

  1. Lean with 2 hands on the wall
  2. Maintain arm and trunk position, stabilise everything above the hips.
  3. Flex your hip, knee and dorsiflex your ankle (see Ankle Dorsiflexion)
  4. Place flexed leg down into the ground
  5. Lift the other leg into hip, knee and ankle dorsiflexion.
  6. Repeat, exchanging leg positions
  7. This should feel like bouncing a ball.
  8. Diving the legs down rather than focusing on pulling them up.
  9. Please don’t bang your head into the wall.

4. Ankle Dorsiflexion

Dorsiflexion is the motion of pulling the foot up to the shin. Plantarflexion is pointing the foot. If you land with your foot in plantarflexion you increase your risk of ankle sprains. You also lose energy in your run as you land toes first, then your heel still moves the ground. You then have to constantly make up this energy as you push off the ground having a detrimental effect on your performance.

5. Core stability

It is important to be able to maintain your posture whilst you run. You don’t want to be flexed at the trunk causing the head to jut forward. This posture puts excess strain on the upper Trapezius and neck. It can change your breathing patterns as it makes it difficult to use your diaphragm. It can also cause neck pain. headaches and increase your fatigue.

Exercise Plank

  1. Maintain a straight spine.
  2. Make sure pelvis is slightly posteriorly tilted.
  3. Don’t let your lumbar spine drop.
  4. Try plank against a wall to train posture for acceleration phase.
  5. Hold 30-60 seconds.

The last essential!!

See one of the team at Hands On Health Care Clinic. The above exercises are a guideline and should only be done in combination with a professional and thorough assessment of your exercise needs.

Call 9949 3017 or book online


June 4, 2018
Georgina Smith