Updated: Dec 21, 2021
The third and final part in our Running Form blog series with Martin Haines covering tips and advice on how to change your running form to become a better runner.
I'm injury free, but I've been told my running form is off - should I change anything?
Despite our advances in technology and our understanding of the body, as well as training and conditioning techniques, many experts suggest that the old adage, “if it ain't broke, don’t fix it”, still applies today.
Your body moves how it needs to move to accommodate your anatomy and personal mechanics. If you do have a personalised style, make sure anyone who wants to change that style (to make it theoretically better) first understands precisely why you are running as you do.
If you are running as you do to accommodate a genetically stiff hip for example and your technique is changed to something theoretically better, you may no longer be able to accommodate that stiffness and end up loading the hip, potentially causing problems. If the hip problem is something that is correctable then make the changes to your hip by exercise or treatment, and make sure that the rest of your body has the capacity to adapt to those changes, then make slow alterations to your style – if indeed any change is still necessary.
It takes a skilled coach and a detailed assessment to make these changes to minimise the risk of causing problems as your body adapts to the style changes.
If you could offer the general public one piece of advice what would it be?
Run how nature intended you to run, without any thought to it. Progress your mileage slowly and let your body run freely. If you have regular or recurrent problems then look to understand why, by having an assessment of your body’s mechanics. Not necessarily a running analysis, an analysis of your body – to see if your body has the capacity to run the sort of distances and frequencies that you are doing. If it highlights correctable issues, then perform exercises to correct them and then carry on running using your previous style.
Interestingly, you may find that your style changes naturally (without trying) when your body has the capacity to move differently, perhaps better. If the assessment shows that you have a structural or anatomical anomaly then you should see a coach to help you change your style to work around that anomaly, which may not be orthodox, but will work for you.
Martin Haines, DipRGRT, MCSP, SRP, IBAM
Founder and Director Brytspark Limited
We would like to thank Martin for sharing his time and knowledge and contributing to the Onetrack magazine.
Martin Haines is a Biomechanics Coach and Chartered Physiotherapist. He has worked at the highest level in Professional Football, International Rugby, McLaren Formula 1 Racing, professional skiing and with Olympic athletes. In the field of elite sport, Martin is currently engaged as Advisor to the European Tour Medical Advisory Board.
Martin heads up Brytespark which is an organisation which understands the human body, how humans move, how they work and how they interact with products. Brytespark provides body-centric expertise for both form and function, enabling product and software designers to deliver effective, health driven end user experiences.
In the retail, medical and pharmaceutical fields, Martin enhances the design of products for human use, by applying the principles of Biomechanics and the science of how the body is designed to move. Martin is currently consulting to Start-rite shoes, Micro-Scooter, Reckitt Benckiser and Scholl.
Personally, Martin is an accomplished author and has presented his work at scientific congresses across the world. He is an Honorary Senior Lecturer and Innovation Collaborator at Salford University and is the former chair of the UK Biomechanics Coaching Association.