You may have heard all the hype about running techniques: Barefoot, Pose, Chi, Good Form Running and more. But what the heck is running form really, and how do you decide which style is best for you?
Running form, in its simplest definition, is how your body moves while running. New styles of running have been developed to prevent and treat injuries in runners, and your form will either make you a fast and healthy runner or an injured, unhappy runner. We want you happy!
What do the trademarked running forms preach?
ChiRunning® This system teaches you to relax, land with a mid-foot strike, lean forward, relax the limbs and engage the core to let your legs “simply support your body weight instead of pushing or pulling it forward.”
Pose Method® This model uses “pose, fall, pull” as the keystones for what it considers good form. By keeping a tall and aligned pose, or posture, it recommends falling forward and allowing gravity to drop one leg while the support leg pulls from the ground.
Good Form Running® The method of good form involves a tall posture, landing mid-foot, running at a cadence of 180 (steps per minute) and leaning forward slightly from the ankles, using gravity to help momentum.
Do these sound familiar? While general guidelines may be helpful for some, there are a few problems when picking a generic running form for everyone. Everyone moves differently. Each runner has strengths and weaknesses that will help or hinder his or her running form. I have analyzed thousands of runners’ forms through slow-motion video analyses, and there are many similarities in healthy runners and parallels in runners with injuries.
How to Fix Your Form
Make it dynamic! A dynamic warm up is the best type of stretching to activate supporting muscles before a run. See a video here of real people doing it: www.refinedrun.com/refined-run-warm-12-dynamic-running-warm-up.
Work on flexibility (after your runs) to promote a long stride and encourage the muscles to do their jobs:
• Hip flexors
• Get your glutes firing (see “Baby Got Back” in the summer 2014 issue of Fit Columbus)
Use your glutes – don’t just “fall forward!” Those babies are big for a reason – they should support your hips to avoid the hip drop you saw above and allow you to have a strong push-off and long stride-length
Find a cadence that works for you. When running a six- to eight-minute-mile pace, 180 steps per minute is great, but if you’re running a slower 10-minute-per-mile pace, you will take less steps.
Land softly. You should not sound like a herd of elephants coming down the trail; land as softly as possible and this will help take care of your foot-strike.
These general guidelines are important for all runners, all distances and every single running style. In order to find the best running style or modification for you, a running gait analysis and functional examination is necessary. You can schedule yours at www.RefinedRun.com.