The importance of the jerk balance for footwork is well known among most runners. Most runners are aware that they need to develop their leg muscles to run faster and stronger. They also know that it is very important to have good running form in order not to injure themselves or others while running. However, there are many misconceptions about how much weight one needs to use when performing the jerk balance technique.
There are two main reasons why some runners do not perform the proper jerk balance technique:
They do not understand what the correct technique is; and/or They believe that if they don’t perform the proper technique, then they will hurt themselves or others.
What Is The Correct Technique?
To perform the correct technique, you must first understand what the correct technique is. If you do not know what the correct technique is, then you cannot properly practice it. Therefore, before we begin discussing the jerk balance for footwork, let’s take a look at what exactly is meant by “jerk” in terms of running mechanics.
Jerk (pronounced JERK) refers to your body’s natural forward motion during a sprinting movement such as running or jumping. This is a common term used in the sport of track and field.
As you run, a lot of pressure is naturally placed on your arms when holding them outstretched in front of your chest. When one’s arms are outstretched in front of one’s body, it causes an upward pull on the shoulder areas which can lead to injury if excessive force is applied to them. The jerk movement alleviates some of this upward force off the shoulders by actively pulling the arms downward.
The idea is that you do not want your arms to be pulled upward by the force of your body’s forward movement. If this occurs, then it greatly increases the chances of injury to your shoulder area. The jerk movement acts as a counter-force to the upward force of your body’s natural forward motion. By pulling the arms downward against this upward force, some of the pressure is relieved from the shoulder area and is instead transferred to the forearm and bicep areas.
If you go to the track and watch a sprinter at the start of a race, you will notice that her upper body leans slightly backward for just a split second as her legs take her forward. This leaning back of the upper body is an example of the jerk movement in action. When you run, you should perform the jerk maneuver with a slight backward lean of your upper body. As you lean backward, you should pull your arms backward as well in a jerking motion.
Why Do Some Runners Believe That They Should Not Use The Jerk Technique?
When performing the jerk movement, many runners believe that this action causes the upper body to move backward while the legs are moving forward. This creates a situation where the body is moving in two different directions which can lead to injury.
However, this is a misconception. The jerk movement only causes your upper body to lean slightly backward in a subtle and controlled manner. In other words, your legs are still moving forward, but your upper body is leaning backward at the same time. If you do the jerk movement correctly, then there should be no significant jerking movement of your upper body in either direction.
Why Is Footwork Technique So Important?
As stated above, good footwork technique is extremely important when running long distances, especially for races with lots of turns such as road races. For one thing, good footwork technique prevents you from tiring out your leg muscles and burning out early in the race. For another thing, good footwork technique helps you to maintain good running form which prevents the chance of injuries.
When running a road race, one of the most important aspects of good footwork technique is learning how to effectively and efficiently pivot your body on each foot as you run through each turn or curve in the road. For example, when running on the left side of the road and you need to make a sharp turn to the right, one foot should be planted solidly on the ground while the other foot makes a short and quick pivot step as your body turns to the right. As you make the right turn, so to speak, your left leg will be straightened out behind you for just a moment while your right leg supports most of your weight. During this split second when your left leg is straightened out, you should not be lifting that foot off of the ground.
Instead, you should be running with that foot in a slightly dragging motion. By dragging that left foot in this manner while turning to the right, it greatly facilitates your ability to make a quick and smooth turn without falling or stumbling.
Running With Others
One of the most fun and motivating aspects of running is running with others. Running in a group or with a partner provides you with social support, it helps to take your mind off of the run by engaging you in conversation, and it makes the time go by much quicker. However, for all of its benefits, running with others does present some potential dangers and problems which you should be aware of.
First and foremost, running with others requires that you pay attention to the people you are running with. If you are constantly getting distracted by your conversation with a fellow runner or if you are not keeping an eye on a fellow runner, then you may not see something such as a traffic crossing ahead of you. At worst, this lack of attention can cause a car accident in which YOU may get struck by the car. So make sure that you are giving the road your full attention if you are running with others.
Second, when running in a group, your group may be exposed to all of the dangers that any group of people may face. For example, if you go running at night and your group splits up and gets spread out over a wide area, then you may be more likely to become a victim of a potential violent crime. Also, if you are running with a group and you are all running red lights, that can also pose a danger to the group.
Third, as stated above, when running with others you can get distracted from your surroundings and what is going on around you. Sometimes this may result in one runner comparing running notes with another runner while you are running and not paying attention to the road ahead of you. As a result, you may step off of the sidewalk and into the street without even realizing it.
One very real danger to running with others is getting lost while running with them. It sounds funny, but it can and does happen. If you get lost while running with a group, it is best to find a place where you can see cars passing by on the road and wait there for the group to find you. Maybe some good Samaritan will stop and offer you a ride back to your car or to a nearby gas station from where you can call someone else to come pick you up.
Finally, if you are running with a group, you should inform someone else of your running plans. This might be a group that you always run with or it might be a group that you are running with for the first time. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you tell someone either the time that you will be coming back or at least the route that you will be taking.
This way, if someone starts to worry about you and calls the police to see if anything has happened to you, they will at least know some of your running plans.
Basic Safety Measures when Running with a Group
Below are some tips on how to stay safe while running in a group.
Tell someone your running plans (as stated above).
Choose a group with which to run that fits your ability level. If you are not an experienced runner, then do not choose to run with a group of elite runners.
If running at night, bring along a headlamp or flashlight and make sure that the group brings plenty of lights. It is also a good idea to bring along a glow stick in case an emergency vehicle needs to find you on the road.
Choose a running route that is safe for the group. If you are a faster runner, then choose a route that is not as far and has less traffic.
Make sure that the route is well marked so that you do not get lost. This might mean bringing along a map of the area and marking the route before you run or it might mean bringing along a GPS device.
Make sure that you all stay together while running. Sometimes one or two runners might try to push the pace and run ahead. The group should make sure that they wait up for the slower runners if this happens. In addition, it is important that if anyone within the group gets hurt or has a sudden medical emergency during the run that everyone else stops and helps out.
Ego’s should be checked at the door of wherever you are running.
Make sure to hydrate before running and drink plenty of fluids during the run. In hot weather, it is especially important to drink a lot of water at regular intervals.
Make sure that you are all wearing proper running attire. This means that the proper shirts, shorts, socks, shoes, etc… should be worn.
Make sure that you are all following any and all traffic laws.
Here are some safety rules that should be followed when running with a group.
Some Safety Guidelines for Running with a Group
Make sure that everyone has the proper running attire. In addition, make sure that everyone has the right shoes for the type of terrain that you will be running on.
Make sure that everyone has brought plenty to drink and has hydrated before the run. Also, make sure that everyone has eaten enough before the run. Running on a full stomach can be dangerous and running with a empty stomach can lead to complications.
If it is dark out, then make sure that everyone has proper lights when running on roads. It is better to be over prepared than to not have enough light when running at night.
Make sure that everyone knows the route that you will be taking and make sure that someone has a map if needed. Also, make sure that someone in the group has a GPS or other device that will help lead you back to the start point if needed.
Make sure not to run on roads where cars are traveling at high rates of speed. If you are going to run along the road, make sure to run against the flow of traffic. This way you can at least see the cars coming towards you and have time to get out of the way.
Make sure to run on trails or paths that have other runners or bikers around. If you are going to go running in an isolated area, make sure that someone in your group stays in contact with the rest of the people by using a walkie talkie type device. This will help in case of an emergency and will also help in case you become disoriented since you can ask for help if needed.
Make sure that everyone in the group is accounted for at all times. This means that you should not let anyone get too far ahead or fall too far behind. The farther someone gets ahead, the more likely they are to get lost or hurt since you won’t be able to see them. The person will also not be able to determine where everyone else is in the group if they become disoriented.
Make sure to tell someone in the group your complete running route and when you should be back. This is important in the case that someone in the group gets hurt, lost, or otherwise unaccounted for.
Make sure to bring your cell phone with you and make sure that it is charged before running. This is in case of an emergency and if you become lost or separated from the group someone can call you to help figure out where you are.
Make sure that everyone understands all of the above safety information and make sure that they say something if they do not understand or agree with it. This is especially important so no one gets left behind, lost, hurt, or worse.
With the proper precautions and preparations you should be able to pull off an enjoyable group run without too much worry or concern.
Sources & references used in this article:
The Importance of Balance Training by J Pilotti – breakingmuscle.com
How to Prevent Fear of Heights From Throwing You Off Balance by R Handsfield – breakingmuscle.com
Which Deadlift is Right for Your Body Type? by M Gedge – breakingmuscle.com