Running is a process known to every human being from an early age yet it is something we all do differently. The main difference between running and walking is that both feet leave the ground while running. This distinct difference causes the body to use a tremendous amount of energy in getting our bodies to oppose gravity in take off and oppose the shock of landing. On average running can burn 50% more calories per mile than walking.
Muscles used during running
To examine this effectively we shall split the activity into its 3 stages:
The initial stage of running involves one foot lifted from the ground and the other remaining on the ground as support.
- Ilio Tibial Band of the supporting leg
- The lower back muscles
- The abdominal muscles are all used to support the pelvis and keep balance
The opposing leg is lifted by the
- The Quadriceps
- The Hip Flexors
The supporting leg becomes extended until the big toe remains on the ground. To achieve this movement
- The calf muscles
- The quadriceps come into action
Here the toe looses contact with the ground and
- Hip Flexors
- Gluteal muscles
Are all needed to allow one leg to become extended and the other to hit the ground
The upper body is also essential to maintaining balance in running. The more force exerted by the lower body the stronger the upper body must be to react. Thus if you notice sprinters have the greatest upper body mass of all the runners.
So overall running involves most of the bodies' muscles, upper and lower to enact efficient movement. Thus unfortunately, there are numerous injuries that can occur.
Term used for a painful condition in the shins, it can be caused buy inexperienced runners over striding and landing on the heel, thus slapping the foot on the ground and causing stress throughout the leg. It is also highly connected to running on concrete too often. i.e. overuse.
Frontal knee pain predominately sourced at the "knee cap". This pain can result from the musculature attached to the knee cap or it can be degeneration in the knee itself.
Any of the muscles outlined in our description of running can become dysfunction from overuse/ misuse. One often affected however is the hamstring muscles.
Ilio Tibial Band Syndrome
This muscle is the primary support for our hips during the support phase of running. It can manifest itself as knee or hip pain and can come about from overuse or weakened core stability. There is also a high link between ITB injuries and bad gait (i.e. how we walk).
This is a real "buzz" word among runners but should be approached with caution, pronation of the foot is a natural occurrence in walking and running, however a person can start to over pronate by placing too much emphasis on the inside of the foot, this can place strains on ligaments and tendons. It can also result in shin splints, knee injuries and foot pain. However, if you do not over pronate your foot it is important not to purchase compensatory footware!
Overuse and bad running form are the main reasons for running injuries. Such limitations can be overcome by incorporating some of the following into your training:
- Warm - up beforehand
- Wear proper running shoes (find out if you over-pronate)
- Strengthen core stability and the main muscle groups involved
- Resting between long sessions and incorporating rest weeks into your training schedule.
- Improve your running form.
- Hip Flexor Stretch
- Hamstring stretch
- Calf Stretch
- Quadriceps Stretch