The law of motion

Updated: May 23

As we shed our winter gear and tie-on running shoes, let’s talk physics. Then, let’s talk running.

Newton’s Third Law of Motion sums up why we need to prepare before we begin running: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

High impact

Running is a high impact activity that places enormous stress on the body from consistent, repetitive pounding. Your cardiovascular system will adapt much quicker than your tendons and ligaments.

Because of this, it is important to keep basic physics in mind as we begin running outside. A careful progression is the key to reducing your risk of injury. Supplement this with activation of joints and muscles, and with cadence.

Joint mobility

Running requires hip mobility and extension to promote a good stride. Doing fascia release with a ball or foam roller will help. If this type of self-therapy is unfamiliar to you, a kinesiologist or massage therapist can provide some helpful techniques.

Supplement this with some active stretching to promote range of motion.

Muscle strength

Leg and core strength are important. But glute strength is where you will get your power for running. How can you judge your strength? You should be able to hold a single-leg bridge in a static position for at least 30 seconds.

You should also be able to perform at least 10 single-leg squats while maintaining proper knee-to-foot alignment.

Fast footwork

Optimal running cadence is between 160 and 180 strides per minute. A high cadence will help you reduce impact. It also helps avoid over-striding, as ground contact will be closer to your centre of mass. Studies also show that it is also more efficient. Use the metronome on your phone to help set a tempo to achieve a good cadence.

Think about physics. Then think about running.

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