Joint Mechanics: Marketing strategy or tool for stride transformation?
If you’ve ever gone to a running store and done the treadmill evaluation thing and been told you over-pronate (and been recommended a certain shoe to correct it) you have been the victim of joint mechanic marketing!!
In addition to being an effective sales tool, a knowledge of joint mechanics can also help you change and improve your stride.
Let’s look at a couple of examples. In pronation (when your heel rolls in), both your foot and ankle joints undergo several changes in the brief time your foot lands and comes off the ground. (less than 2/100’s of a second) Funnily enough, pronation, the supposed mother of all running ills, is one of them!! The key question is: when is it supposed to happen and for how long? (short answer: just after landing) And if you aren’t pronating correctly at the right time can you change so that it does work properly? The answer to the last question is a resounding YES!
The same question can be asked about your knees: should they stay bent or straight, when and for how long. Some people will tell you to always keep your knees bent, ‘just like Kipchoge’, current world marathon record holder. People who do this tend to run with a short choppy inefficient stride (unlike Kipchoge) However, landing on a straight knee leads to more braking and impact, something most of us would like to avoid. Can/should this be corrected? Absolutely but again it helps to know from the start what is supposed to happen….and when. (short answer: bent on landing, straight on toe off)
Finally my current favorite, the pelvis: square and level or rockin’ and rollin’? Well too much movement looks funny and a bit uncoordinated (it is!!) Square and level seems tight and restricted; it is!! So what is your pelvis supposed to be doing in that less than 2/100’s of a second window? A helluva lot is the short answer. (it should actual move through 3 planes during the time your foot is on the ground) Knowing that and how to encourage it can make the difference between you feeling like you’re flowing or floundering…I know which one I prefer!!