No family gathering is complete without the old, “Are you still running?” Uncle Remus painstakingly reminds you that, “you’re going to ruin your knees, ya know?” The comments eventually shift to the forever predictable, “I wouldn’t drive my car that far.” We’ve all been there. Family members, friends, and co-workers allude to the notion that you are, in fact, crazy, nuts, or dysfunctional (maybe all 3). While we all have a little bit of crazy laced in our DNA, we too all have some dysfunction. I’m not using these terms as synonyms, either.
Dysfunction literally means ‘bad function’, which in the terms of this article, translates to ‘bad running’. Aside from blindly throwing mileage at your body, bad movement can be traced to most overuse injuries. Our bones, joints, and muscles develop to function a specific way. Although none of us molded from a perfect cast (despite what you may think), we do have subtle differences that can alter how we function. Leg length differences, previous injuries, and occupational hazards (sitting, kneeling, and standing) all lace our past and influence our movement. Luckily, most dysfunction can be fixed or its effect minimized with the right set of exercises.
Anatomy is at the core of dysfunctional movement. Have you ever looked at another runner or your own reflection and noted that something was off… you just couldn’t put your finger on it. Dysfunction is the likely cause. Restrictions in motion, muscular weakness, and poor movement patterns will alter how you interact with the ground. Dysfunction can mask itself with flailing limbs, feet, or elbows. It can be felt internally with knees or heels that crash into the opposite leg during swing. Let’s cover a few common dysfunctional movement patterns and how they influence your ability to run.
At the time of this article we are approaching the off season (at least up north). You need to commit to better movement, not just better training. Whether your looking to run faster, stay healthy, or both, invest in yourself. Dysfunctional movement haunts all of us, but those committed to improving how they function see the most benefit and greatest gains.