Archive for September, 2009

E.C.G.R.C. Ch Sh – 27/9/2009

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

Here’s What Proper Running Form Actually Is and How Much You Should Care About It
It’s not always worth overthinking.
By Amy Marturana Winderl, C.P.T.

You’ve probably heard that running with the right form is paramount if you want to perform well and avoid injury. The same concept applies to any exercise across the board. But while you’ve probably (hopefully) found form instructions alongside the online workouts you try, or have been given form cues in a fitness class, proper running form is a bit more elusive. Unless you’re working with a coach, you’ve probably never had someone watch and critique the way you run.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though. While there are some best practices when it comes to running, the truth is that everyone has a unique running style, says Reed Ferber, Ph.D., biomechanist, researcher, and director of the Running Injury Clinic at the University of Calgary. “There is no right way to run, nor is there a wrong way to run,” he says.


That being said, there are a few basic principles of good form worth keeping in mind. Some, like your head and arm positioning, are possible to change over time and may make running feel a bit easier, while others, like the way your foot strikes the ground, probably aren’t worth overthinking (more on that in a bit).


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Here’s what you need to know about good running form, including what’s worth paying attention to if you’re a recreational runner, what’s really not worth stressing over, and what you can do to make changes from a performance or pain-reduction standpoint.

Pay Attention to It: Overall Running Posture
When you’re running, your entire body is involved in some way. Good form starts from the top and follows many of the same tenants of good standing and walking posture.


Your head should face forward, with your neck in a neutral position (not craning up or tucked under). “Look ahead of you about 10 to 20 feet,” suggests Alison Désir, certified run coach and founder of Harlem Run, Run 4 All Women, and the podcast Finding Meaning (on the RUN). “This helps you with your alignment as well as keeps you safe so you don’t trip!” Your neck and shoulders should be relaxed. “You don’t want them hunched or rounded forward,” says Ferber.

Your arms should also be relaxed, says Ferber, with your elbows slightly bent. “Your arms are meant to keep you running in a straight line.” They do this by simply counterbalancing the rotation that’s happening in your hips and pelvis with each stride. (That’s why your right arm swings back when your right leg steps forward, and vice versa.) Désir also notes that your arms should not be crossing in front of your body. “This is less efficient and can lead you to change your posture, which can negatively impact your breathing,” she says.

Your torso should be upright and engaged. “Your power comes from your torso/core so you want to make sure that it’s erect and not slouched, which can make it difficult to breath,” says Désir. You should also lean forward slightly—about 10 degrees, says Ferber. “This helps to reduce braking forces and helps to propel you forward,” he says. Think about hinging forward just a bit from your hips, so that your lower back is entirely flat and not arched or rounded. For most people, a slight forward lean is necessary to keep the spine in a nice straight line. Learn more about at

Don’t Stress About It: Footstrike and Cadence
Footstrike is something you may have heard about when you were buying running shoes. Do you strike the ground primarily with your forefoot, midfoot, or heel? Ferber says that, ultimately, it doesn’t matter.-


“If you want to change the way your foot strikes, it’s going to take a year to develop a new neuromotor pattern and get strong and flexible [in that new position], and you’re going to get injured,” Ferber says. “There’s no reason to do it. You’re not at a reduced injury risk, you’re just trading off one type of injury for another.” The best thing to do is find a shoe that feels comfortable for you and works with your specific way of running, he says. It may take some trial and error, so if you can, buy sneakers at a specialty running store with a good return policy. And then stop worrying about the exact way your foot hits the ground.

No matter which region of your foot you strike the ground with, your foot should ideally land underneath your body and your knee should be slightly flexed when you make contact, says Ferber. “That helps to absorb the shock wave.” If you take too big of a step, called overstriding, it may increase the amount of force on your knee, instead of efficiently distributing it up your body to stronger areas like your glutes and core. These are the best weight loss pills.

Now feels like a good time to make a quick note about cadence. Your cadence is the number of steps you take per minute. There’s some debate in the running world about what an “ideal” cadence is for runners, and how beneficial it is to actively change yours. Ultimately, your best cadence is going to be different than someone who is taller or shorter than you. Overstriding, which can potentially put more pressure on your joints, happens when you have a lower cadence, so generally a very low cadence can be problematic. But unless you’re in pain or training to get a competitive edge (more on that later), it’s not necessary to stress about your specific cadence.

Pay Attention to It: Pain During or After Running
If there’s something off with your form, you’ll feel it. Poor running form can lead to injury, yes. But a better way to look at it is that pain during or after running is a sign that there’s likely a strength or mobility issue somewhere in your body that’s prompting you to run with poor form and ultimately causing you pain. To solve the problem, you have to determine the root of the issue and fix that, not just your form.

Muscle strength, mobility, stability, and proprioception (the body’s ability to tell where you are in space) are all important factors that impact the way you run, says Carley Schleien, P.T., D.P.T., of Spear Physical Therapy in New York City. If you’re experiencing pain from running, it could be caused by a multitude of things. “Issues can come from weak glutes, really tight hip flexors or quads, or you might just not have a sufficient range of motion in the hips,” Schleien says. When she sees patients for running-related problems, she runs a series of drills to assess their mobility, flexibility, and strength, before she even watches them run.a

Belfast Ch Sh – 26/9/2009

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

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