Kids Running – How should we train our kids to run?

Running is a fundamental, locomotor skill and its development is crucial to be able to participate in many sports and activities.  Many parents worry their children exhibit undeveloped running styles compared to their peers and fear this may hinder their ability to compete and engage in sporting activities.  Extensive research into running tells us that children respond differently to adults when exposed to running training and that more emphasis on good running fundamentals and technique may be the key to developing good runners.

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Think back to when your football coach made you run laps as a young kid with the aim of making you fitter for the upcoming season. Although the intentions were good, the process may require a little rejigging. It is widely accepted in running literature that children do not respond the same way adults do to running training on a physiological level. A simple example of this is if you take an inexperienced child and an inexperienced adult runner and make them run 2-3 times a week for say a month. The improvements seen in the adult in terms of running performance will far outweigh that of the child.  This can largely be put down to physiology i.e. the child’s energy, cardiorespitatory and musculoskeletal systems are not developed to the level of adults and therefore wont be able to take full advantage of the training. So how else can be train running performance in kids?

The answer lies in technique! If you want your child to be able to swim then you would send them to swim classes were they would experience a mix of swimming technique drills, swimming laps and of some fun and games. So why is running so different? Why would the same approach not apply to learning to run? The answer is that it should. In 2014 I was apart of a research study which looked to identify if known “good” running biomechanics variables in adults were comparable in children and if good running biomechanics in kids meant better running performance in kids. The answer was an overwhelming yes! The top performing prepubescent runners (6-12years of age) exhibited the best running biomechanical variables of the cohort.Trackstars 2

I’m not suggesting that purely running technique or biomechanics will allow you to become a good runner but they certainly form a much larger piece of the pie then most of us would think. So to allow your child to have the best chance at becoming the best runner they can the key is a mix between running for fitness, technique fundamentals and of course fun and enjoyment! The right balance of all of these components helps form the basis of our trackstars development programs aimed at giving kids of different running backgrounds the ability to achieve the most out of their running. The key is also to start young. As anyone who has only started running technique drills in their adult life can attest to (myself included here), the saying you can’t teach an old dog new tricks does hold some truth!

 

Jarrad Turner
Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist
Front Runner Sports

To contact Jarrad please email rehab@frontrunnersports.com.au

OR for bookings call TRC 9324 2707

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