The Cross Over Running Technique: A Quick Case Study

Walk on a piece of string or along a seam in the concrete or walk on the lane dividing lines on your local high school or college track. What happens ? If you walk on a single line you will find yourself more unstable as compared to walking with a foot fall directly under your hips and knees the way it is supposed to occur. The limbs are a pendulum and economy and biomechanical efficiency as well as injury reduction will occur when the parts operate in the most effective manner.

We have all of our cross over runners, as you see her doing in the first half of this video before she corrects to anti-cross over (ie. natural), first walk on a line. In our case we use the metal drainage grate outside our office that you see in the video for just that purpose, they walk the grate. Then they run the grate. We ask them to feel how unstable they are in the frontal plane walking the grate. Then we have them walk with their feet only touching the outer edges of the grate, now not crossing over. They can feel the difference, the increased stability. They all say it is easier to walk with the thighs, knees and feet all barely scuffing past one another but after they feel the other most will comment that they can see and feel how lazy their gait and running gait have become. They can feel the better posture, more gluteals and more power that an anti-cross over gait affords them. Then they run the grate again. Then they run the edges of the grate. You see this skill builder in the video above.

In this video clip, after 60 seconds of coaching, this top NCAA distance track athlete (often injured) was able to make the change immediately. You can see after just a few strides the immediate and dramatic change in her gait. We then had her drift back and forth between lazy cross over and the corrected anti-cross over gait. We do this so that on her long runs, when she notices the inside shoes scuff past one another, when they notice the feet begin to run on a line, when the thighs begin brushing past each other that she can immediately make the correction. It will happen often during the beginning stages of developing the new neurologic skill pattern. Motor pattern learning takes up to 12 weeks before the neuroplasticity becomes more worthy of the dominant pattern of choice.

We have all of our athletes head over to the oval track and run not in the lanes, but on the line. To be precise, they run with their feet on either side of the line, making sure they have that visual feedback for the correction. They run over the line. We drove past a local high school the other day and saw the entire girls cross country team on the track running not in the lanes, but over the lines. We smiled big, and long. We know the coach, he follows our stuff, and he will prevent so many injuries this year in his runners. They have a 15 minute pre-run warm up and skill building for their runners. They will be competitive at the State level once again because they will show up with everyone healthy and free of injury, we can only hope. They will have a better chance than others who keep doing what they did last year, and the year before that, and the year before that.

If you are doing what you did last year in your training, expect last years results.

Want to know more? Join Dr Allen this Wednesday evening on, Biomechanics 316