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Why does my kid run funny?!

We may not want to say it out loud, but many parents have had that thought. Why does my kid run funny?

There are a large number of factors that go into how your kid runs, far too many to properly cover in this blog nonetheless, we will aim highlight some of the main reasons below.

When a youth athlete first comes into ACE we take them through our performance assessment, which involves a 20m sprint test where we not only test their speed, but we also take some videos to look at how they run.

We take 3 videos:

  1. From behind

  2. From the side

  3. From in front

There are different things that we are looking for from each of these viewpoints, which gives us a complete view in all directions that could be missed by just looking at one viewpoint.

For now, we are going to focus on 3 key body parts, looking at what might be happening in your child’s technique at that body part vs what we will teach them in sessions. The 3 body parts are:

- The Foot

- The Hips

- The Arms

The Foot

The foot is sometimes the forgotten area, even though it is the first and only point of contact between us and the ground

The diagram shown is a representation of the different ways in which we contact the ground.

These 3 different foot landings should be associated with different speeds of movement.

  1. Walking Speed – Heel first

  2. Jogging – mid foot (or whole foot contact)

  3. Sprinting – Fore foot (or ball of the foot contact)

If we see a child sprinting and they are landing with their heel first it means two things;

  1. They will be slower – they will have to roll through they whole foot and claw themselves forward

  2. There will be lots of impact forces going right up their leg (which may lead to other problems like severs or shin splints)

The Hips

Does it look like your kid is bouncing up and down when they run? Or are their knees coming across their body every single step? Then the problem is probably at their hips.

Some of these problems will get fixed as your child gets stronger, improves their coordination and gets used to their body. However, we want to give you a checklist of the bad signs in running that are associated with the hips and give a solution for each one.

Problem... Knees crossing over – most likely from the hips twisting left and right

Solution... Strengthen hips and work on basic running technique

Bouncing up and down when they are running

Solution – Running technique drills, focusing on maintaining a tall posture

Looks like they are arching their back to try and run faster – this is probably doing more harm than good

Solution – Work on hip strength & stability in the gym with the basics like squats and glute bridges

The Arms

Looking back on the video from the start of this blog, if you or your child is a spaghetti noodle, stomper or stiff arms runner then this is the section for you!

When we run our arms and legs should be working together, not flapping about all over the place. No matter what speed we are going, our arms and legs should be staying in unison with the opposite side. If our arms are instead swinging across our body, then not all of our energy is going towards where we are running.

Some simple fixes for issues with arm swing include

- Standing arm swings – practice correct technique standing still before applying it to running

- Dowel overhead drills– helps practice controlling your torso without the help of your arms

If you want to learn more or get your child in for a comprehensive running gait assessment, contact the ACE Performance coaches now and get a head start on improving your childs running

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