Running is just fast walking right?

Definitely not.

The biomechanics involved in walking and running are very different although they follow the same basic pattern and are both natural movements which involve most regions of the body. This body wide movement can only take place when there is a good range of movement available to the individual.

A simple example of how range of movement can affect the body wide effect of walking or running is when we are carrying two bags of heavy shopping in each hand. When this happens we cannot swing our arms and cannot therefore rotate our spines as much as we would do normally. This in itself will not cause problems but in the context of a pre existing injury it might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, pun intended.

Running differs so much from walking mainly due to the momentum and the muscle groups that are active during running. When running we use a greater range of movement which loads the muscles that cross our joints. This loading or stretching of these muscles is then used to power the next movement by elastic recoil which means that we don’t have to use as much sustained and finely controlled muscle contraction as walking requires. The muscles further away from the joints exert a stronger effect on them (think of sitting at the end of a seesaw versus in the middle). Due to this these muscles are more active during running as the greater range of movement loads or stretches them more.

During walking we have to use muscles closer to the joints as we need more control. Imagine yourself running to catch a bus through a crowd, the forward momentum allows you to change direction quickly by just leaning your body from side to side. Now imagine navigating through the same crowd whilst walking, because you don't have much forward momentum you have to use more control to change direction; in this situation simply leaning in one direction will make you fall over as the momentum isn’t there to stabilise you.

Due to the differences between walking and running it is important to ensure that you focus on your running technique before getting involved in long distance runs so you can stay injury free, run further and faster and therefore enjoy running more.

Here at Better Balance we analyse movement to ensure that you can get the most out of whatever you choose to do with your body.

Contact us today to see if we can help.

Joshua Moffatt