Google Reviews

Running Technique

(02) 9922 6116

For many of us energetic folk, it might seem strange that there is
such a thing as running technique. Many of my patients are heavily into
their running, and some happen to be quite advanced. By this I mean not
only are they fast runners, or have recorded fast competition times, but
they also demonstrate good knowledge and understanding of running

Some people are active from a young age, and develop a running style
naturally throughout their childhood. This may not resemble a style like
that of Carl Lewis, but they can at least pull off a somewhat
co-ordinated running style. Not everyone gravitates to an active
lifestyle however, and it’s easy to tell whom these people are when you
watch a person run for an extended period of time.

Most of my patients know about my love for sports but have often
heard me say, “I don’t run unless I’m chasing a ball.” This is of
course, a strong reference to my love for tennis in particular, but also
other sports like cricket and golf. Running on it’s own has never
appealed to me greatly, except for perhaps sprinting. I have always
loved watching the 100m dash in the Olympics, but who doesn’t?

Recently, I have been hearing about the achievements some of my
patients have made in the various half and full marathons held around
Australia, not to mention triathlons and other more recreational events
like Tough Mudder, Raw Challenge and Warrior Dash. Despite my aversion
to running, I decided to set myself a small challenge – a 5km run. Not a
particularly impressive challenge but I was interested to see how I
stack up against my patient base. Also, I thought it was a good exercise
in bringing me closer to understanding the different forces and strains
running places on the body.

Before I tell you how I went, let’s cover some basics of running technique. The following tips come from Melinda Gainsford-Taylor, well known retired Australian athlete. Whilst Melinda specialised in sprint events, the tips she gives below are relevant to all forms of running and would be most suitable for recreational runners. More advanced runners might benefit further from seeking advice from specialised running coaches.

So how did I go you ask?

What I learnt

If you haven’t run for a while, you’ll be sore afterwards. Obvious right? I was still a little surprised by this though as I do a lot of running around the tennis court on a weekly basis and thought I could handle a simple 5km run. My little experience reaffirmed that your body needs to be conditioned for various forms of exercises and in this case running technique.

I might be fit for running on a tennis court, but road running is
different. The two forms are very different. Tennis involves quick
bursts of running, rarely more than four or five steps in one direction.
The steps are usually more powerful, and can involve scrambling and
sliding motions. Running is more rhythmical and premeditated, you know
exactly where you’re going with less likelihood that there’ll be any
sudden unguarded movements. This means however that road running lends
itself more to repetitive strain type injuries.

Common running injuries

With an activity like running, there’s always the possibility of a
freak fall or accident that could result in an infinite number of
injuries. Below are some of the more common sites where runners
experience pain.

Shin splints, calf pain and Achilles tears

Without going into any detail about the above injuries, they are all
essentially problems to do with the lower leg. The impact this part of
your body experiences as a result of propelling your body through space
at higher speeds, is huge. The repetitive nature of running determines
you will at some point experience pain or discomfort in the lower leg.
Pain will be influenced by the amount running you do, how much rest you
take in between runs, the biomechanical status of your feet in
particular, and the strength of the muscles surrounding your hip joints.

Knee pain

Pain in the knee is influenced mostly by three general structures –
the cartilaginous joint buffer known as the meniscus, the hip complex or
the foot. Wear and tear through the meniscus from the constant pounding
of running is inevitable and may at some point become painful. When
pain from meniscal injury becomes too great, the only option is
arthroscopic surgery to remove the degenerated fragments. Knee pain can
largely be avoided by ensuring adequate range of motion through the hip
joints and more importantly by maintaining strong gluteal muscles. The
glutes are your running engine and if strong enough, will keep the knee
stable during this strenuous activity.

Finally, the foot is the first part of your body in contact with the
ground. The ground reaction force generated when you touch down will
transfer upwards through your leg. If the foot is in any way
structurally compromised or has a preference to move in a way that
transfers this force inefficiently, your knee will absorb some of this
shock wave force. The knee is the next link in the chain and has to play
the hand it’s dealt. A foot assessment is vital for any knee pain

Low back pain

The lower back is no different to any other joint in the body when it
comes to running. Depending on your running style and the state of the
rest of your joints, your back will also experience the force of you
pounding the road. The inherent suspension mechanism built into your
spine should be able to cope with some of this force, but it varies from
person to person and should be assessed in each individual case. The
alignment of your spine will determine how well or not you cope with
these forces travelling through your body.

Foot pain

Aside from blisters and ingrown toe nails, plantar fasciitis, ankle
sprains and stress fractures are other problems that can occur here.
Perhaps most importantly however, is for a runner to be familiar with
their foot motion. There are 26 bones in the feet for a reason, to form
joints that will accommodate the summation of forces sustained during
walking and running so that the foot can transfer this force effectively
to the rest of the lower limb.

There are three basic foot movements: pronation (rolling in),
supination (rolling out) and neutral. During walking and running, the
foot should follow an ideal movement pattern (neutral) but often our
genes, poor habits or even injuries would have us do otherwise. These
days there are many professionals who can observe your gait and assess
your foot motion – chiropractors, podiatrists, physios and even some
specialist foot store clerks. Knowing your specific foot motion means
being able to select the best running shoe to prevent any of the above


Don’t wait for an injury to develop, try to control as many variables as you can. Start as far back in the process as possible, first with your running technique and then with your equipment (running shoes, etc). Thereafter, get some advice from an expert who can advise you on the safest way to introduce your body to the potentially harsh arena of road running and what the best running technique is.

I’ll be waiting for you at the finish line.

Or you can give us a call on 02 9922 6116 or book online here.

*DISCLAIMER: This discussion does not provide medical advice. The
information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and
other material contained in this discussion are for informational
purposes only. The purpose of this discussion is to promote broad
consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not
intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis
or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other
qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding
a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health
care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay
in seeking it because of something you have read in this blog.

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