The running coach

I am not too sure how we got to this point but it is definitely a thing now! I am told we can learn how to run… I have to admit that I don’t get it!

We can teach someone how to play hockey, play golf… but run?

What is the difference, you will ask me? 

A recent study illustrated the mechanisms present in locomotion in different species. We speak of similarities between mechanisms found in different species.

Specific neurons in the brainstem (descending reticulo-spinal pathway) are responsible for:

– Swimming in fish;
– Crawling in reptiles;
– Flying in birds;
– Locomotion in more evolved quadruped mammals;
– Locomotion in erect standing in human beings.

If it’s true that we choose to walk or to run, once that choice is made, an involuntary process takes place to allow the activity to be maintained.

It is that precise pathway, found in the midbrain and in the pons, that is responsible for activating neurons in the spinal cord that are specific to walking (automatic motor pattern generators).

There will always be a component of walking that will be unconscious. The inheritance of processes that operate at the subconscious level that allows us to put one foot in front of the other.

To add to it, there is an implication of the cerebellum in this process. The cerebellum knows projections on the reticular formation in the medulla and the pons where you have motor centers responsible for the involuntary component of walking.

When one considers that the cerebellum communicates afferent proprioceptive information to the central nervous system to allow for posture and generation of movement, any postural imbalance can impact walking and running.

So, ideally, we would:

  • Calibrate posture.

2) Integrate the motor patterns that are associated with proper mechanics for walking… and running!

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