Running: The Best & Worst Movement You Can Do
(article from our friends at MovNat – author Danny Clark – Performance Director & Master Instructor)
Running. I used to hate it. Correction: I used to abhor it. When I was a young athlete, I avoided it like a staph infection because anything longer than a sprint wasn’t among my natural strengths…I’m much more naturally “wired” for explosive movements. And as I reached my late twenties, I outright couldn’t even run a casual mile without pain in one or more joints.
My disdain for running was further reinforced as I transitioned from athlete to fitness professional – and was introduced to an industry where there’s a pervasive stigma that running destroys joint integrity and overall movement quality. Articles in many fitness circles run rampant with all kinds of pavement pounding, posture deteriorating anti-running propaganda designed to mitigate our clients love of running (or scare them from starting) and shift it over to our collective resistance training fetish. Or there’s the segment of die-hard runners, insisting all you need to do is run.
What I’m going to do today is change your perspective about running. Actually, I have an even loftier goal: I’m going to change your perspective about movement in general. Because once I changed mine, “magical” new doors opened for myself and my students. And let me just say this: I’m not going to teach you how to run in this article nor am I going to dissect the subtle biomechanics of running economy. Personally, I think that route is the most ineffective way to restore your ability (and desire) to actually run well.
NATURAL MOVEMENT ISN’T ‘OPTIONAL’
To set the stage, let me reiterate a point I’ve made many times now: the root biological purpose of all movement is to be able to complete practical tasks in complex environments (read more about that here). Therefore, it’s logical to deduce that gait patterns-chiefly crawling, walking, and running-have a very real and meaningful purpose for human beings from an evolutionary perspective. Since our bodies were literally (not figuratively) selected to complete these fundamental tasks, it’s fairly safe to make the bold, counter-culture statement that all of these gait patterns are essential for our health and well-being.
The inverse statement is even more potent: In the absence of our ability to practice a variety of basic gait patterns such as crawling, walking, and running, our wellness and overall health will suffer.
Here’s where things get interesting. As “fundamental” as running is, it’s a very complex and difficult movement to perform well under modern conditions. I’m going to venture to say that running is actually an “apex” movement, hence its position as a Level 2 movement in the MovNat curriculum. Further, I’d say our ability to run both effectively and efficiently at varying speeds and distances is actually one proxy for our overall ability to move naturally and “well.”
READY TO STARTING RUNNING AGAIN?