In a previous post, I wrote about the role genetics plays in the physical characteristics we each possess. Every person, every body is different and as a result predisposed to certain abilities over others. Some people are built in ways that allow them to excel at dance, basketball or running. I certainly don’t have the ideal body type for running and have certain issues (I talked about my bad knees in another post) that make it that much more difficult to become an advanced runner. Meaning someone who runs competitively and trains to increase speed and stamina. From Sweat 365:
You’ve been running year-round for several years. You have run a lot of races and regularly run intervals. You want to see what you are capable of as a runner. You are willing to train hard.
Even though, I don’t run more than a few times per week (I’m a beginner or recreational runner), there is a good deal of science behind how to run “correctly” as well as how to improve performance and prevent injury. The study of human movement is called biomechanics. Since I’m in the market for a new pair of running/workout shoes and I went for a run this morning, I got to thinking about pronation and how it impacts my ability to run. Pronation, according to The Stretching Institute, “refers to the inward roll of the foot during normal motion and occurs as the outer edge of the heel strikes the ground and the foot rolls inward and flattens out.” Overpronation, underpronation and normal pronation all describe the motion of your foot as it flexes and rolls with each step. A 15 percent inward roll is considered normal or neutral. I’ve been told I’m pronation neutral, but from the wear on the bottom of my shoes, I think I might underpronate. Whatever the outcome, it’s definitely worth looking into again.
Both over and under pronation can lead to an assortment of injuries including shin splints, bunions, patellofemoral pain syndrome (runner’s knee), Achilles Tendinitis, etc. Additionally, any more or any less inward roll and the resultant misalignment can put strain on the feet, knees, hips and lower back. Rolling inward too much (more than 15 percent) or not enough (less than 15 percent) can be corrected, but not cured. First and foremost, you need to figure out how you pronate. Specialty running shoe stores often are staffed by people who are trained in gait analysis. A physical therapist, orthopedist or podiatrist can perform the analysis too. Once you know your stride, you can look for orthotics and/or shoes that offer specific support to help stave off injury. Certain exercises can help to reduce overpronation. Standing or walking for long periods in high heels can lead to overpronation (!). Yet, another reason to pack your heels until you get to the office. Some advice for those that face underpronation, a less common problem.
Over, under or normal, it’s important to take care of yourself and be proactive about preventing injury. It all comes back to being in tune with your body. Pay attention to how you move, how your body responds to certain activities and patterns of pain and injury. Taking note will teach you as much about what you can do as what you can’t do. We all have limits and it’s better to know what they are sooner rather than later. While I may never run a marathon, I’m happy to know that I can enjoy running twice a week. Make the most of what you can do and don’t focus on what you can’t!
Websites to aid in your search for the proper inserts and running shoes: