The science of body mechanics is much utilised in sports performance analysis and enhancement. Simply put, it is about taking actions to maintain the optimum body alignment. Correct alignment reduces the risk of injury through overstrain and it also ensures the body’s energy output results in optimum gain. Although there will be some slight differences of body mechanics between individuals with regard to age, gender and personal physique, the general principles are the same.
The head – this is a heavy part of the body and incorrect posture here could well throw out every other part of the body. Look up as you run – this encourages correct alignment and also helps increase oxygen intake.
Stand tall – according to running experts, the best runners have an almost vertical running stance which ensures the most energy efficient running style. Avoid a bent waist, a stooped back and an over-emphasised forward lean. This puts undue stress on the back, knees, shins and ankles. As if that wasn’t enough it will also shorten your stride and limit your oxygen intake.
Shoulders – this is another area which impacts directly on other body alignment if held incorrectly. Hunched shoulders mis-use energy and cause neck tension which in turn causes incorrect head alignment. Practice shrugging and pushing down your shoulders to feel the sweet spot of relaxation in-between.
Forwards not sideways – for optimum running efficiency direct all your energy forwards and not laterally. This means no side to side action of the head, hips or shoulders. Arms should be driven forward and back (without a forced action) and not side to side.
So, how many bad habits have you got? If you answer ‘none’ then congratulations and happy, injury free running. If on the other hand you can recognise all of these here and then some, don’t put your running shoes in the bin just yet. Pick something off the list and work at one thing at a time. Let us know how it goes and by sharing your own success story you may well be helping another runner to a more efficient style.