Previously I have emphasized the need and importance of the core, but it is almost impossible to get runners to understand the vast impact this has on efficient running AND injuries!!!

If you want to have a trouble free build up to Weekend Witness Maritzburg City Marathon (yep you like the new name? – City) Two Oceans or Comrades then take a few weeks and invest in getting your running style, core strength evaluated.

Currently training is not that heavy or intense so the forces that our body is subjected to on a weekly basis are rather minimal. However when the year has turned then distance and even racing steps up which means that there is substantial increase in force on each leg and with that the weak links are highlighted by aches, pains and …. Injury.

There is no such thing as a running injury in the normal club training for distance events: – the injuries are overuse – over-load injuries, initiated by your imbalance of structure and increase in running load.

Remember running results in 2-3 times your bodyweight being pounded into the landing foot and up the structure with every strike! When the body is imbalanced that impact is greater up one side than it is on the other and this means a muscle strength imbalance.

Where does this imbalance come from? Your work, your every day lifestyle, computers, chairs, TV and even housewives who lift kids onto their hips!  It is the things that we do for 12 hours a day that impact and initiate the pain and injury that relegate us to the sidelines for 3-6 weeks.

After a 10 minute inspection of shoes and a look at posture, I can generally tell a runner what his office set up is, where his imbalance is and even which side he or she sleeps on. This is the impact of imbalanced running and it destroys running efficiency and escalates the risk of injury.

I make no claims to be a medical professional but as a Professional Structural Engineer the flow of load in the skeleton follows the same principles as those of a building, which has given new life to my background knowledge.

No soft tissue injury should last longer than about 3 weeks and most bone injuries should be solved in 6-8 weeks. If you have been experiencing injuries longer that that then be very sure that the cause of the injury has not been found and corrected.

The point of pain is very, very, rarely the cause of the injury, so treating the pain is not where the focus should be.

Of course you treat the injury BUT the question is why did the injury happen and answers such as an increase in distance or speed is NOT the correct answer – those are the catalysts – but not the cause.

If you don’t determine the cause then the injury will simply return either in the same spot or in the next weakest link in the body.

So do the assessment of your running right NOW – if you have niggles get them analyzed over the festive period, make sure you are wearing the correct shoes for your running style and look at how your body structure reacts to your working lifestyle.

Use strength and core training as well as corrective action to your work station, sitting, standing and sleeping positions: link this to a correct running style and you have every chance of getting through to Comrades (and beyond) injury-free-  That means more and better training between January and June: more consistent training means faster times, faster times in shorter distances means a better time in the marathon and comrades!! What more could you ask for?

The Old Mutual Virtual Coach, Norrie Williamson, provides injury and running analysis consultations through Kings Park Sports Medicine Centre in Durban, Bedfordview Physiotherapists at St Benedicts in Johannesburg, Dubai Road Runners in AEU – For personal appointment contact

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