Ask the Experts
Treadmill running

Treadmills are one of the most popular pieces of cardio equipment, but we’ve all seen people running so badly on them they’ll end up injured. We talk to the experts about the advantages of intervention and the best ways to coach members in their running style to avoid injury




Chris Kay Running Specialist Bristol Physiotherapy Clinic

 

Video gait analysis could add a new revenue stream
 

Although it would be great to see gyms promoting good technique, and running in general, the advice has to be correct. No advice is better than bad advice and to give good advice, instructors need knowledge and understanding, so will need to be appropriately trained.

There’s currently a lot of bad running technique happening in gyms. I’ve witnessed 30 treadmills in use, with every person on them needing advice. Ideally, instructors should feel empowered to intervene, in the same way they would if someone is picking up a weight incorrectly, but this is difficult to do if the instructor has not been professionally trained in running technique.

Running is a skill that can be learned, like swimming, and some adjustments can make all the difference to an individual’s enjoyment, as well as lessen their injury risk. We did an audit on running injuries at our clinic and found that when we worked on improving our clients’ running technique our success rate of treating injuries went from 37 per cent to 78 per cent.

The ideal situation is to get people running properly right from the beginning.


 



Chris Kay at work: “instructors must intervene”


Louise Nicholettos Cornwall Physio and owner The Run Lab

It would be helpful for gym instructors to give simple tips to members at the induction stage. This could improve their performance and enjoyment as well as decrease their risk of injury. Plus, if they’re given pointers when they join, it’ll be easy for staff to keep coaching and reminding them when they see them on the treadmill.

Simple pointers include an upright posture and stable core. Focusing on keeping a quick, light cadence decreases the risk of a runner overstraining or landing too far ahead. Encouraging runners to ‘land quietly’ can be a great cue.

In my experience of coaching, one of the most helpful things gyms can do is allow people to go barefoot on treadmills, as this encourages a softer landing and better posture. Just spending a few minutes without shoes on at the start of a session can really help to increase a runner’s awareness of how they’re running and they will often auto-correct issues such as heavy heel striking.

When I’m rehabing injuries, especially knee pain, a small amount of time barefoot can be a great cue for improving their biomechanics.

SLOWER START
It’s also important to advise people to build up time and distances slowly when they start running. This can be a problem for people who are already fit, or who used to run, as their heart and lungs will be able to keep up, but their connective tissues need to adapt. Programmes like Couch to 5k are good, as they give gradual exposure and these could be displayed within the gym.

It’s very important to look after new runners too: up to 80 per cent of runners get injured each year. New runners – those who’ve been running less than six months – are the most likely to get injured. Also, if you have six months off running, your injury risk becomes similar to that of a new runner, as the connective tissues become deconditioned, so it’s important to make members aware of this and to encourage them to start gradually.

There are now a number of courses available for fitness professionals to help get clients moving better as they run. Teaching running technique can be as complicated or as simple as you want to make it, and the level of detail really depends on the goals of the client. These can vary from optimal race performance, to enjoying running without getting sore knees.


"It’s vital to look after new runners: up to 80 per cent get injured each year, and after six months off, injury risk is similar to that of a new runner"

 



Louise Nicholettos guides a runner through a gait analysis session


Emma Kirk-Odunubi Assistant Manager Profeet

Running form and technique training can be difficult to implement in a gym, as it needs constant monitoring and feedback. There are also differing opinions on the specifics of body positioning. It would be helpful for PTs and fitness instructors to have some knowledge of running biomechanics and an idea of how to help clients who are returning to fitness after injury.

Having the knowledge to build programmes that strengthen key muscles for the mechanical function of running would be beneficial. Run strength training could be offered as part of a functional training class for long term health and overall body balance.

Unless they’ve been specially trained in running biomechanics, I’d be cautious about a staff member intervening – sometimes what looks like an uncomfortable way of running may cause that person no issues at all, and if that’s the case, why alter it?

THE RIGHT FOOTWEAR
However, the instructor could ask the member whether they have any pain, or current injuries. If they do, the instructor should encourage them to see a professional about fitting some appropriate running footwear and having their gait assessed. In some cases, the individual may need an insole or even medical attention. A sensible progression of running training is critical too.

Going forward, we’ll see more gait analysis being offered in gyms, as more people start running and seek to learn and improve. A few trials have already taken place in boutique gyms, where people run throughout a class with a camera behind them to identify changes in their gait pattern. It’s time consuming to review all the footage and give specific information to everyone, however, it’s an interesting growth area for gyms to consider – they could start employing run specific gait trainers.


"We’ll see more gait analysis being offered in gyms, as more people start running and seek to learn and improve"

 



Emma Kirk-Obunubi says PTs need knowledge of biomechanics


Tom Williams COO Parkrun

 

PT Tom Williams is COO of parkrun
 

Running is a pretty simple activity, pre-programmed into all of our genes, but can sometimes be over-complicated. As a natural form of human movement, we should be encouraging people to just get out there and do it.

Over the last 15 years (as a personal trainer, founder of Hyde Park Harriers running club in Leeds, and now as COO of parkrun) I’ve supported a large number of beginner runners. It’s pretty clear to me that the most common cause of injury, or drop-out in novice runners, is simply doing too much too soon, and in turn the most effective strategy for long-term success is to gradually increase volume and intensity over time.

The best support a gym could provide for prospective runners would be by empowering their members to provide peer-support through the formation of official running groups, or even through engaging with existing running groups. These groups provide an excellent opportunity for gyms to engage with members. I’d recommend that any staff tasked with leading running groups should receive training through England Athletics.


"The best support a gym could provide for prospective runners would be empowering their members to provide peer-support through the formation of official running groups, or through engaging with existing running groups"

 



Running groups provide a great opportunity for gyms to better engage with their members
Get training

England Athletics runs two running leadership courses that cover interventions instructors can make to help people improve their running technique.

Leadership in Running Fitness is a one day course, with no assessment, which teaches how to lead a group of runners who have varying abilities. It also covers the common barriers to taking up running and how a leader can make a difference to them.

Coach in Running Fitness is a progression from this and is a four day course with pre-course work, practise and assessment. It looks at the fundamental principles of running, skills and drills, programme planning and management.

 



Gym instructors can be taught how to lead a running group
 


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SELECTED ISSUE
Health Club Management
2017 issue 7

View issue contents

Leisure Management - Treadmill running

Ask the Experts

Treadmill running


Treadmills are one of the most popular pieces of cardio equipment, but we’ve all seen people running so badly on them they’ll end up injured. We talk to the experts about the advantages of intervention and the best ways to coach members in their running style to avoid injury



Chris Kay Running Specialist Bristol Physiotherapy Clinic

 

Video gait analysis could add a new revenue stream
 

Although it would be great to see gyms promoting good technique, and running in general, the advice has to be correct. No advice is better than bad advice and to give good advice, instructors need knowledge and understanding, so will need to be appropriately trained.

There’s currently a lot of bad running technique happening in gyms. I’ve witnessed 30 treadmills in use, with every person on them needing advice. Ideally, instructors should feel empowered to intervene, in the same way they would if someone is picking up a weight incorrectly, but this is difficult to do if the instructor has not been professionally trained in running technique.

Running is a skill that can be learned, like swimming, and some adjustments can make all the difference to an individual’s enjoyment, as well as lessen their injury risk. We did an audit on running injuries at our clinic and found that when we worked on improving our clients’ running technique our success rate of treating injuries went from 37 per cent to 78 per cent.

The ideal situation is to get people running properly right from the beginning.


 



Chris Kay at work: “instructors must intervene”


Louise Nicholettos Cornwall Physio and owner The Run Lab

It would be helpful for gym instructors to give simple tips to members at the induction stage. This could improve their performance and enjoyment as well as decrease their risk of injury. Plus, if they’re given pointers when they join, it’ll be easy for staff to keep coaching and reminding them when they see them on the treadmill.

Simple pointers include an upright posture and stable core. Focusing on keeping a quick, light cadence decreases the risk of a runner overstraining or landing too far ahead. Encouraging runners to ‘land quietly’ can be a great cue.

In my experience of coaching, one of the most helpful things gyms can do is allow people to go barefoot on treadmills, as this encourages a softer landing and better posture. Just spending a few minutes without shoes on at the start of a session can really help to increase a runner’s awareness of how they’re running and they will often auto-correct issues such as heavy heel striking.

When I’m rehabing injuries, especially knee pain, a small amount of time barefoot can be a great cue for improving their biomechanics.

SLOWER START
It’s also important to advise people to build up time and distances slowly when they start running. This can be a problem for people who are already fit, or who used to run, as their heart and lungs will be able to keep up, but their connective tissues need to adapt. Programmes like Couch to 5k are good, as they give gradual exposure and these could be displayed within the gym.

It’s very important to look after new runners too: up to 80 per cent of runners get injured each year. New runners – those who’ve been running less than six months – are the most likely to get injured. Also, if you have six months off running, your injury risk becomes similar to that of a new runner, as the connective tissues become deconditioned, so it’s important to make members aware of this and to encourage them to start gradually.

There are now a number of courses available for fitness professionals to help get clients moving better as they run. Teaching running technique can be as complicated or as simple as you want to make it, and the level of detail really depends on the goals of the client. These can vary from optimal race performance, to enjoying running without getting sore knees.


"It’s vital to look after new runners: up to 80 per cent get injured each year, and after six months off, injury risk is similar to that of a new runner"

 



Louise Nicholettos guides a runner through a gait analysis session


Emma Kirk-Odunubi Assistant Manager Profeet

Running form and technique training can be difficult to implement in a gym, as it needs constant monitoring and feedback. There are also differing opinions on the specifics of body positioning. It would be helpful for PTs and fitness instructors to have some knowledge of running biomechanics and an idea of how to help clients who are returning to fitness after injury.

Having the knowledge to build programmes that strengthen key muscles for the mechanical function of running would be beneficial. Run strength training could be offered as part of a functional training class for long term health and overall body balance.

Unless they’ve been specially trained in running biomechanics, I’d be cautious about a staff member intervening – sometimes what looks like an uncomfortable way of running may cause that person no issues at all, and if that’s the case, why alter it?

THE RIGHT FOOTWEAR
However, the instructor could ask the member whether they have any pain, or current injuries. If they do, the instructor should encourage them to see a professional about fitting some appropriate running footwear and having their gait assessed. In some cases, the individual may need an insole or even medical attention. A sensible progression of running training is critical too.

Going forward, we’ll see more gait analysis being offered in gyms, as more people start running and seek to learn and improve. A few trials have already taken place in boutique gyms, where people run throughout a class with a camera behind them to identify changes in their gait pattern. It’s time consuming to review all the footage and give specific information to everyone, however, it’s an interesting growth area for gyms to consider – they could start employing run specific gait trainers.


"We’ll see more gait analysis being offered in gyms, as more people start running and seek to learn and improve"

 



Emma Kirk-Obunubi says PTs need knowledge of biomechanics


Tom Williams COO Parkrun

 

PT Tom Williams is COO of parkrun
 

Running is a pretty simple activity, pre-programmed into all of our genes, but can sometimes be over-complicated. As a natural form of human movement, we should be encouraging people to just get out there and do it.

Over the last 15 years (as a personal trainer, founder of Hyde Park Harriers running club in Leeds, and now as COO of parkrun) I’ve supported a large number of beginner runners. It’s pretty clear to me that the most common cause of injury, or drop-out in novice runners, is simply doing too much too soon, and in turn the most effective strategy for long-term success is to gradually increase volume and intensity over time.

The best support a gym could provide for prospective runners would be by empowering their members to provide peer-support through the formation of official running groups, or even through engaging with existing running groups. These groups provide an excellent opportunity for gyms to engage with members. I’d recommend that any staff tasked with leading running groups should receive training through England Athletics.


"The best support a gym could provide for prospective runners would be empowering their members to provide peer-support through the formation of official running groups, or through engaging with existing running groups"

 



Running groups provide a great opportunity for gyms to better engage with their members
Get training

England Athletics runs two running leadership courses that cover interventions instructors can make to help people improve their running technique.

Leadership in Running Fitness is a one day course, with no assessment, which teaches how to lead a group of runners who have varying abilities. It also covers the common barriers to taking up running and how a leader can make a difference to them.

Coach in Running Fitness is a progression from this and is a four day course with pre-course work, practise and assessment. It looks at the fundamental principles of running, skills and drills, programme planning and management.

 



Gym instructors can be taught how to lead a running group

Originally published in Health Club Management 2017 issue 7

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