Every person with two functioning legs can run albeit at different speeds, times and frequency. But not everybody can run with effectiveness and efficiency, as well as with good form! This is because safe, effective and efficient running requires several factors to achieve – stride length, foot landing, arms movement, and hips shifting, among others.
And then there’s the fact that not too many people know about the phases of running. The knowledge and its proper application of these phases are a must because it increases the chances for efficient running and decreases the risk of injury from it. Here’s what you need to know about these phases first.
At this phase, all of your bodyweight is on one of your legs, as is the case when you’re in the starting position on the track. But when you’re running as a form of exercise, such as when you’re on a treadmill at a Fitness First gym, your bodyweight is on both of your legs at first.
The Initial Contact
While it may seem to be the easiest movement, the initial contact between your foot and the ground can be fraught with danger, so to speak. If you don’t have sufficient motor control and strength in your feet, knees and legs, then you’re likely to experience the first breakdown in your form.
During initial contact, your foot hits the ground. When it touches down, your ankle and knee flex slightly so that the force of the impact can be absorbed. Your foot turns in a little, too (i.e., foot pronation), which can be the source of your running injury.
This is the phase when your foot and leg are located directly underneath your hip. Your entire weight is then on a single leg, yet another potential source of injury. You may not know it but even a single misstep can cause an imbalance in your body.
You may, for example, turn your foot more than necessary (i.e., over-pronation) resulting in a chain reaction into your hip and knee. You can then stumble over your foot and fall on your face, literally and figuratively.
You must then have sufficient strength and stability in your hips as part of your good running form. Otherwise, your stride will be adversely affected so your ability to run well will be affected.
Your foot begins to come off the ground with your heel taking the lead. The energy absorbed and stored during the previous phases will then be used in preparation for the next phase. Your foot and ankle should be supinated while your ankle, knee and hip has to extend.
The phases are then repeated during your run. You will also observe that for a split-second, both of your feet loses contact with the ground so you appear like you’re floating off the ground.
In each phase, you should be conscious of your running form. At least, this is true for the first few runs until your muscles acquire muscle memory and you perform the steps nearly automatically.