Teaching kids to run!
It is never too early to start learning how to run well! In fact there are numerous benefits from teaching kids to run with good technique and instilling good habits from an early age. These benefits include improving run efficiency, injury prevention and increasing the likelihood of success and longevity in the sport.
A key component of being a good runner lies in being an efficient runner; that is reducing energy wasted on superfluous movement thereby reducing the amount of energy that it takes to travel a set distance. Improving run technique is key to becoming a more efficient runner for example correcting arm position can aid in eliminating wasted energy from excessive rotation. Learning the correct technique is not a challenging feat however it does requires lots of practice – focusing on key concepts such as cadence, body position and time spent in contact with the ground. The earlier these concepts are introduced to kids the better as it allows more time to practice, increases body awareness and provides them with an opportunity to achieve considerable improvements in performance.
Improving technique also plays a major role in the prevention of injury. Many common injuries experienced by runners arise as a consequence of poor biomechanics and overuse which result in uneven force distribution causing overload and irritation to structures. This can lead to injuries such as tendinopathies, stress reactions/fractures or muscle tears. Improving run technique (and biomechanics) ensures that joints and muscles are being used in positions that are the most favourable to absorb, disperse and produce force minimising overload and thus the likelihood of injury.
Not only is it worthwhile improving run technique as a child but there is a fantastic opportunity to teach and instil good training habits that will aid in minimising injury and promoting longevity in the sport. For example educating and demonstrating what constitutes a warm up and cool down are very simple concepts yet pay off considerably if they become habitual prior to training sessions and races. It has been shown time and time again that performing good warm up not only prepares our body for work and maximises the benefits gained from a session but also contributes to injury prevention.
Most of all however, by providing kids with the necessary tools for success, enjoyment and injury prevention they are more likely to develop an early love for exercise and see it become a lifelong habit which has invaluable benefits!!!
Mel is a qualified Physiotherapist, a qualified Exercise Physiologist and national level elite runner. Mel is also a qualified AP10 Coach, who coaches athletes of all levels including coaching several kids run groups every week in Wollongong. To find out more about this, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org