I was speaking to a young man last week who gets mid-back pain after running. He told me that he measures every single run he had ever done with his smart-watch. He said his running cadence was 95spm and his hand/foot synch was smooth, but left-dominant, and he had a fairly long stride length. He was convinced that all of this culminated in a perfect storm that caused his back to become strained.
In truth, the only problem with his running style was his positioning - he hunched forwards as he ran. He didn't need a fancy watch to tell him that - he needed a mirror!
Poor positioning is the number-one cause of injury in runners. Luckily, it's easy to diagnose and easy to correct. There are just 3 areas of the body you need to think about - spine, arms, and legs. Check out this helpful infographic from Gambetta Training:
Stand tall by squeezing your shoulder blades together, and externally rotating your shoulders. If you're struggling, picture pinching two $2 coins between your thumbs and forefingers.
Maintain "masses and spaces" by lifting your chin, and bracing your core.
Lean forward from the ankles, not the hips.
Let your arms move naturally - don't think too much about them. Let them move smoothly and they will maintain momentum and balance the body.
Pull your elbow back with force, then let it move gently forwards. This will support the forwards momentum of the legs.
Lift your legs backwards, from the hips. That means squeezing your glutes, rather than your hamstrings.
Land with your front foot under or behind your head.
Let your knees absorb the impact of the ground, rather than letting your foot slap it hard.
If you can pull those 3 things off, you will make a world of difference to your running performance and in preventing injury - much more that those small measurements on your smart-watch.
If you want more information on runner positioning, email me directly via the contact page.
Dr Mitch Clark