Last June and July was glorious, freshly cut grass, sun ablaze, thick precise white lines illuminating the track against the backdrop of green and the sound of excitement, cheering and enjoyment …… I attended numerous Quad Kids, Super 6 athletics events which has been organised for Primary and Secondary children. On the converse side, colder, wetter weather embraced the cross country season and the added resilience this brings.

100’s upon 100’s of children aged from 7-16 loving running, experiencing a track for the first time, crossing the line, smiling having a sense of challenge and fulfilment and being patted on the back by their teammates…

With the many numbers of runners be it the events I have highlighted or on the sidelines watching my son’s football matches, I have seen a multitude of different styles in how the legs and arms function, it is running by instinct and natural but with that we create bad habits. This leads to injury, slow movement, compensations ultimately leading to negative affects as the child continues into Adult hood.

Running needs to be more than just going out and running fast times, cross country, 800/1500 metre distance or finishing positions or chasing around the football, hockey or rugby pitch. We need greater emphasis on precise mechanics bespoke to the the individual in order to educate them in how they can move with greater efficiency and understand the reasons why technique is so important whatever the sporting context.

We can set the Children up for a lifetime of success and enjoyment here’s how:

Running is a skill

‘Its just swinging your arms and putting one foot in front of the other isn’t it?’

That was one comment I once heard a long time ago in reference to running.

It emphasised that we take running for granted. But why? it is a life skill that we use on a daily basis whether in a sporting context or informally, running for a bus, general play.

Running is a skill we strive to perform with accuracy, consistency and efficiency.

Running is a skill not given enough attention in its own right in schools. If as a parent you are reading this Probably your first insight to running was something like this – “two laps of the pitch’ ‘run to the fence and back’ How much precise technical content do you remember being taught?

Kids are visual learners, they learn by copying other people, whether this be their favourite athlete, footballer, rugby , netball player or their parents who have passed down their passion for running and physical activity; this when we start to embed what we believe is correct and are actually forming inefficient, bad habits which will have an impact as they grow.

More importantly if a child can’t run correctly it stops them from improving and in many cases puts them off sport and fitness meaning they will not maximise their potential. Running is technical in its own right and by incorporating the correct biomechanics at an early age we can promote a greater chance of pain free running and enjoyment of sport.

7 is the Magic Number!

The benefits of teaching correct running

technique to Children

Running technique training should begin as soon as possible after their 7th birthday. Children tend to learn running skills faster due to several factors which results in radical advances in technique in just SIX SESSIONS:

The benefits of learning correct running technique:

  1. Neural Plasticity: Children’s brains are highly adaptable and have a greater capacity for neural plasticity compared to adults. This means that their brains are more receptive to learning new motor skills, including running. The brain’s ability to form new neural connections and refine motor coordination is at its peak during childhood.
  2. Growth and Development: Children’s bodies are still growing and developing, and their bones, muscles, and joints are more flexible compared to those of adults. This flexibility allows them to adapt to new movements and motor patterns more easily. Additionally, their lower body mass and smaller stature make it easier for them to coordinate their movements and maintain balance while running.
  3. Injury Prevention – By By activating the correct running mechanics, we can help your child reduce the risk of injury, minimising stress on joints, muscles, and tendons while promoting better alignment, posture and weight distribution
  4. Fearlessness and Playfulness: Children tend to have a fearless and adventurous approach to learning new skills. They are often willing to take risks, try different techniques, and push their limits. This fearlessness helps them overcome initial challenges and allows for more rapid progress in acquiring running skills.
  5. Lack of Inhibitions: Children are generally less self-conscious and less concerned about judgment or failure compared to adults. This lack of inhibitions enables them to focus on the task at hand without being overly concerned about their performance. This mental freedom can enhance their learning experience and lead to faster skill acquisition.
  6. Environmental Factors: Children often have more opportunities for physical activity and unstructured play, which naturally involves running. Regular engagement in active play and physical education programs can provide children with more practice and exposure to running, allowing them to refine their skills at a faster rate.
  7. Applies to a significant number of sport – most sports out there involve some form of running, so learning to run and running faster from a young age gives you an advantage.
  8. Longevity – Training the correct movement patterns sets the child up for succes of a lifetime of efficient movement and a love of running!

Refined Running based near Wallingford specialises in helping perfect the running technique which includes training youngsters from the age of 7-16. If you want your son or daughter to move better, run better with greater co ordination, efficiency, control or you feel their running technique is not quite right, get in touch via the Contact page and we can start rapidly improving their movements!

After all……KIDS LOVE TO RUN…!