The Importance of Proper Running Form

Running is classic.  No matter what fitness crazes come and go, from Aerobicise to TaeBo , there is always running.  Running burns calories quickly (one hundred or more over 1,600 meters or about a mile,) can lead to the long and lean Runner’s Body, and doesn’t require gym a membership or equipment.

But like every form of exercise, running is not perfect and can lead to injuries.  Seven of the most common running injuries are runner’s knee, Achilles tendonitis, hamstring issues, plantar faciitis, shin splints, iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS,) and stress fractures.  I’ve dealt with shin splints and ITBS, and I’m not even a long distance runner.  With each stride, running puts a strain on the body greater than the weight of the body, meaning running form is essential to prevent and help heal common running injuries.

Proper running form prevents injuries

Proper running form prevents injuries

Bad running form leads to:

  • Injuries
  • Lowered efficiency
  • Slower times
  • Aches and pains

Improper running form might mean striking excessively hard on the heels, over or underpronating ankles, the foot landing in front of the hips, excessive arm swinging, or slouching, among others.  Perhaps the most important piece of advice I can share would be to ask someone to video you while running.  Since I’ve started trying to increase my mileage I have been complaining that my right foot hurts during long runs, particularly in the ball of the foot, while my left foot is fine.  I had my husband film me running on a treadmill at the gym and look what I found:

poor running form right foot turned out rotated simplyfitandclean

Right foot, why you so crooked?

Look at how crooked that right foot is!  And even worse, it stayed that crooked when it hit the treadmill.  (Apologies for not having a picture of that, this is a screen shot from an iPhone video and isn’t terribly clear.)  That was not the only problem with my form, but it was the most obvious and has led directly to the most discomfort.  (The shoes are New Balance W730 in green and yellow, which I intend to review later.)  Finally I had an explanation for why the right foot always caused me more grief than the left!

The video led me to the realization that I was unwisely getting into a hobby that can cause injury without first learning how to prevent injury and do it properly.  If you are interested in starting to run or stepping up from the casual runner to a serious runner, do yourself a favor and study proper form and stride correction, then get a video of yourself running and compare.  There are even businesses that specialize in stride correction and training.

Some books to look at are Tread Lightly, ChiRunning, and Pose Method of Running.  I also find videos like the following to be extremely helpful:

If you have any additional suggestions or resources, please share in the comments.  Now, go get fit.

Additional Resources:

http://www.runnersworld.com/health/big-7-body-breakdowns?page=single

http://wholisticrunning.com/2011/08/02/first-blog-why-a-focus-on-running-form/

http://thegaitguys.tumblr.com/post/14459021499/the-solitary-turned-out-right-foot-in-a-barefoot

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3 Responses to The Importance of Proper Running Form

  1. When I was dealing with ITBS during my recent during half marathon training, my doctor advised me to lift weights twice a week. I did, and it has helped tremendously. Turns out, having strong leg muscles puts less stress on your joints.

  2. Pingback: running tips | clean eating diet plan | fitness blogs

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