Last week, I attended the Therapy Expo conference in Birmingham. Great conference and exhibition, well done to the organisers. I was invited to deliver some presentations – one on Movement Re-patterning for Rehabilitation and Performance and of the other 2 were “live biomechanical analysis” demonstrations on two brave volunteers who wanted to get their running analysed in front of hundreds of people!
During the presentations, there was a chance for the audience to ask some questions. It was interesting the type of questions I got asked after the live analysis. Some were very good, some were very clever and some very probing questions. I got the usual questions such as ‘How do you train stride frequency?’ or, ‘how long does it take to correct running technique?( which is the most common question I get asked), followed by “can you show me how you change running technique?
However, what really surprised me was, that when it comes to a biomechanical analysis, how many people think that it’s the software that does the work. One of the main questions that I did get was ‘what sort of software are you using and how can it analyse the information for you?’.
Now, let’s just clarify one thing: The analysis software doesn’t do the biomechanical analysis for you. No flashy lights and lines or graphs can identify what the issues are!
It’s all about understanding movement efficiency in walking and in running, and having the experience to know what it is you are looking for. If you do not know what you are looking for, no brilliant software, however expensive, however intricate, will help you to analyse an individual’s biomechanics. The same applies for changing movement patterns. We must not forget that we need to understand movement to be able to change movement. Analysing someone’s running technique is simple! The clever part is what comes after: Changing the running technique to make someone more efficient!
It’s very interesting how many organisations are now offering Running Technique Analysis from small physiotherapy practices to major multi-disciplinary clinics and from medical centres to universities.
One of the issues is that some of these organisations have little idea on how to re-educate running technique to improve efficiency and increase speed! They can produce complex graphs and figures and have a “stock” explanation on why someone is running inefficiently and getting injured. But when it comes to the solution, they come up with the same answers:
- It’s your core you’re not strong enough
- Its your glutes they are not working ( everyone’s favourite)
- You have the wrong stride frequency you need to increase it
- It’s the shoes, they are not the right ones
- You need to do more strength/Olympic lifting
- You need orthotics
- You need to do more stretching/flexibility
When I think back to how I started analysing running technique 25 years ago with a camera and a cassette video recorder and a television, I am so impressed with how new technology can help us help more people and it’s getting better!
One thing that hasn’t changed is how the body learns and how the body moves and how we can change movement. Our understanding on how this happens has been enhanced. But for us to change our running technique – to run better ,more efficiently and faster- we need to change our movement patterns and stimulate the nervous system and the muscular system together.
This means that to change running technique, theoretical information and tips will not do the trick. The body needs to learn movement through movement – mostly while running but also through other re-patterning exercises.
Running technique is simple to change but it’s not easy to change! It is also very individual . Although the generic changes to the way the legs move and the arms move is the same for most people, there are a number of individual changes that need to be applied . This is because we are all different and our movement patterns are developed from the way we move, the way we compensate, the way we train, previous injury and pain
We have carried out over 25,000 biomechanical and movement analyses since we started out – on recreational runners, elite athletes, non athletes , kids , people after injury surgery or stroke. The one thing that comes out loud and clear every time is: EVERYONE MOVES DIFFERENTLY!