Have you ever spotted a runner that's moving effortlessly and is making it look easy? They're annoying that bunch! But it's more than likely that they also possess a very important trait within their running technique... a vertical shin angle upon landing.
Take a look at the below image with red arrows. This is exactly what we're NOT looking for when landing. A foot that lands way out in front of the body leads to a non vertical shin angle which places the shin bone and surrounding anterior muscles under huge amounts of stress. This makes us more rigid and susceptible to injuries such as plantar fasciitis, shin splints and anterior compartment syndrome as landing forces are not absorbed and transferred into forward momentum efficiently.
Conversely, landing close to, or underneath your centre of mass leads to a vertical shin angle as shown below and this is exactly what we DO want. Braking forces are reduced significantly meaning we can land and transfer energy into our posterior leg muscles efficiently. This will help propel you forwards whilst running and in the longer term reduce the chances of experiencing injury.
To ensure you're landing like the below image and not the above, there are 3 things you can do straight away:
- Get your cadence up - 180 steps per minute is an excellent goal, but anything above 170 is a very solid number. For a full article on cadence, what it is and how to increase it, click here.
- Avoid over-striding - actively think about where your foot's landing during running. If it's clearly landing way out in front, try to take shorter strides so you land more underneath your body. Increased cadence will support this.
- Land softly and quietly - the noise made on impact is a good indication of where you're landing and what your shin angle's like. Do your best to land softly (a treadmill is excellent for working on this as you can effectively listen to the impact noise).
To get a better idea of your shin angle and where you're landing, film yourself or get a friend to record your running from a side on view. Then watch the footage in slow motion to see how you're getting on. Or if you're interested in gaining some professional coaching, we offer one to one running technique sessions in central London. For more information, please contact us.
By Marc Brown