Anatomy Of Running Focuses On Biomechanics Of The Body
August 13, 2012

Anatomy Of Running Focuses On Biomechanics Of The Body

Lawrence LeBlond for - Your Universe Online

When it comes to modern era distance running, experts have mixed opinions: some say humans are born to run while others say our bodies need careful cross training to stay healthy. Jay Dicharry, author of the new book “Anatomy for Runners,” believes running alone cannot make you a better runner.

“Running is typically a one-dimensional sport,” said Dicharry, a physical therapist and the director of Biomechanics at Rebound Physical Therapy in Bend, Oregon. “You're basically just moving forward. You're not really developing as a true athlete.”

Because many people do not take training into mind when running, nearly a third get hurt every single year. When they read fitness magazines, they say ℠I can do that.´ So they go out and do it, and “then they get hurt and wonder why,” said Dicharry. “If we prepare ourselves we'll do a better job.”

In his book, Dicharry focuses on identifying weaknesses, offers detailed tools for gait analysis, offers tips on preventing injuries, and explains how to exercise in a correct manner that aids the running body.

While many books focus on the cardiovascular system (engine) in regards to the runner, Dicharry´s book focuses on the biomechanical body (chassis).

“Coaches get lots of information on how to train the heart and lungs. But we don't get enough on how to keep the body healthy,” he said. “The more stable the chassis, the more efficient you can be. The book focuses on what's wrong and how to fix it.”

Robert Forster, an expert in sports physical therapy in Santa Monica, California, said the human body has evolved to run.

“Our tree-dwelling ancestors had shorter legs, longer arms and shorter feet. The body actually changed to be effective at running. But we lost our ability to co-opt that economy of motion,” Forster, told Reuters by telephone from London, where he had been working with the US Olympic Track and Field team.

Forster said the most common running injury he sees involves stride length: the distance of the foot on the ground. “Everyone is over striding“¦ You want to land under your center of gravity, or as close to it as possible. We tend to take too few steps per minute. Less time on the ground would take care of a lot of problems”

There are a few tips to run more efficiently, noted Forster. For example, arm swings that target a pendulum-like motion; and knee-high drills similar to prancing like a “Clydesdale horse.”

While many exercises can make you more efficient, the beauty of running is that you don´t need to do them, according to Dr. Lewis Maharam, medical director of the NYC Marathon and author of “Running Doc´s Guide to Healthy Running.”

“Running is the best sport there is. All you need is a good pair of running shoes and shorts, and out you go,” he explained. “Cross training isn't really necessary. Professional athletes do it because it makes you faster, but the best people will tell you that a nice warm-up and a good flexibility program for your lower extremities is basically all you need.”

Maharam said as long as you train properly, running is one of the safest sports out there. He added that “a walk/run program” is the best way to start out, and “never increase your mileage by more than 10 percent per week.” And always remember: preparation is key.

In training, he noted, people do sometimes get a pulled ligament, but they heal quicker because their body is toned. In running, especially in the NYC marathon, Maharam said the most common injury is a blister.