Running Biomechanics - Simplified
Running Biomechanics - the term even sounds complicated. But, when you break it down into its individual segments, it makes much more sense. We aren't trying to dodge the fact that running is a complex movement, but rather impress upon you why 3D analysis is the gold standard. If you look at all the components listed below, a 2D analysis would only be able to pick up a fraction of what you see - and not very accurately at that!
There is a very good chance you have read or been told that the biggest downfall of your running is how much you could be 'over pronating'. Before you jump to conclusions, have a look at the list of movements below and you'll suddenly realise that there are a whole whack of other things that could be causing problems with your running. Pronation is just the guy who keeps getting blamed for being in the wrong place at the wrong time ( literally).
Against our better scientific judgement, we have simplified some of these movements below in hopes to explain some key parameters of running movements. But before we get too deep into that, its important to understand what a 'normal' gait pattern looks like (for a heel striker in shoes in this example). Keep in mind, this is VERY simplified. But you'll get the idea.
Your foot strikes the ground on the outside corner of your shoe. The foot/ankle at this point is in a very strong and stable 'locked' (pulled up) position and needs to 'unlock' (point) to allow for movement to carry on up the chain. The foot therefore collapses in towards the ground and 'pronates'. Don't worry, this is normal!
From here, your tibia ( the big bone in your lower leg) twists inwards on top of the foot to start to take up that force. Your knee, hip, and pelvis all follow suit with this rotation movement, and also slightly collapse inwards. Meanwhile your knee is also bending. The uptake of force at this stage is generally a winding up movement of rotation INWARDS towards the middle.
Reaching the halfway point of your foot's time on the ground, to move you forward, your body now needs to transfer that force to push off - so everything unwinds! Everything rotates outwards, your knee and hip extend, foot pushes backwards ...and off you go!
Ok, lets break this down even further...
Anterior Pelvic Tilt - this is looking at how much forward and backward movement that your pelvis is making. If you put your hands on your 'hips' - the bony structure that you feel is your pelvis. If you think of it like a bucket it better helps to understand this movement. If you tip this bucket forwards, you have what is called and anterior tilted pelvis. If you tip it backwards, it is called a posteriorly tilted pelvis. We are shooting for relatively neutral.
Pelvic Obliquity - this is when the pelvis moves side to side. If you have on side of your bucket higher than the other from left to right, then your pelvis has a high obliquity on that side when that foot is on the ground.
Hip Extension - is the amount that your thigh and leg extend behind you, just before your foot leaves the ground again.
Hip Adduction - this is looking from the angle of your thigh, and how much it collapses in towards the midline of your body.
Knee Flexion at Foot Strike - The amount of bend in your knee as your foot hits the ground.
Knee Abduction - the amount your knee collapses inwards towards the other knee.
Dorsiflexion at foot-strike - the amount your ankle bends upwards or downwards as your footstrikes the ground.
*Fun Fact: Heel striker? You'll have a lot of Dorsiflexion at foot-strike. Forefoot strike? You will have LESS Dorsiflexion ( or a lot of plantarflexion) when your foot initially hits the ground. Midfoot strike is somewhere in between.
Tibial Internal Rotation - the twisting inwards of the tibia in relation to the foot.
Maximum Eversion - the amount that the back of your ankle moves outwards as your foot hits the ground. This is one of the movements of pronation and is what we use to classify how much your foot collapses in towards the ground (pronation is actually made up of three different movements - and not easy to see by eye!).
All of these movements ( plus several others) work both simultaneously and synchronously to absorb forces taken up from your foot-strike and essentially allow you to move forward. When something goes wrong - you will likely STILL move forward, but those movement don't happen as they should. They either go too far, or not far enough - and something else then has to pick up the slack. This is where 3D gait analysis can break these movements down and really pin point where the problems lie.
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