When he’s not coaching, Fletch is educating fitness professionals and Olympic hopefuls. With a background as a biomechanics coach, Fletch knows how to keep you moving whilst being as injury free as possible. Read on for words of wisdon from the main man:
Q. What is running with proper biomechanics/ biomechanical efficiency?
The subject of biomechanical efficiency is a very questionable area of running science. My personal definition is: “Technique in which the joints, muscles and nerves are doing their job in a way that keeps that person safe”. The problem with the phrase “good form” (biomechanics) is that it is down to opinion and there is very little research to suggest that one opinion is better than another.
Q. If running is a natural movement should this be corrected?
This is a very good question and one that is being debated at the highest level of the sport. No, this should not be corrected unless we understand why the person is running in a particular way. The brain is the most powerful computer that been created to date, if there are perceived mistakes in the patterns of movement, these could be compensations to avoid overloading structures.
Q. How does interval training make you a faster runner?
Being exposed to higher intensities of heart rate and muscle activity releases lactic acid into the blood stream. This is the burning feeling and fatigue that makes you stop. Your muscles have buffers that help to deal with this acid and by training at high intensities we can improve the buffering, allowing you to work harder for longer. Q. If changes in mechanics can enhance efficiency do we all need to be individually assessed? Individual assessment is always a great idea so that we can understand the “why”. There is a risk that changing your running form could cause injury or bring back old ones.
Q. What are common misconceptions you come across regarding ‘proper running form’?
That there is such a thing as one. We are all so different! I can’t compare myself to Mo Farah because I’m a foot taller than him and 50kg heavier. The elites run in a certain way because they are going at amazing speeds and it’s their full time job.
Q. Knowing how to run is one thing, but how do you go about changing running form?
Time and consistency. Rather than thinking about doing a full spring clean on your technique, try to work on the building blocks that will make you boost your efficiency:
1) Lower back muscles – very important to have endurance in those structures.
2) Lateral hip – these muscles stop you from falling over, so strong durable muscles is a bonus.
3) Hip extension – improving your ability to swing your leg back will improve your stride length and therefore speed.
4) Obliques – the muscles on the side of the spine work like the hip and hold you up when you run. Get those simple side planks into your programme.