There are many benefits of running, including increased cardiovascular health, increased aerobic capacity, and the release of endorphins – just to name a few. However, running comes with the inherent risk of injury if done improperly. That is why it’s important to maintain appropriate form while going on your morning jog. Here are some tips to keep in mind in order to optimize your running performance and decrease your risk of injury.
1) Shorten Your Stride: People often assume that taking a larger stride will lead to a faster pace, but it has actually been found that short, light steps where your feet don’t extend too far out in front of the body is better.
2) Run “Tall”: Posture is important in all aspects of life, and running is no exception. While running you should stay upright, with a slight lean forward to help propel your body ahead.
3) Consider Foot Strike: There is much debate about how your foot should strike while running. While there is no ‘gold standard’ for running form, the general consensus is that it is optimal for your midfoot to strike the ground first while running. However, that being said, sprinting should involve more of a toe strike rather than a midfoot strike.
4) Keep Knee Position Neutral: While your foot is in contact with the ground your knee should be roughly in line with your second toe. One common deviation while running is called “genu valgus”, which means that your knee is collapsing too far inward. Here is an example:
This deviation is often due to weak hip and/or foot muscles. As you can imagine, this running pattern could lead to knee, hip, back, and/or foot pain.
5) Push Off Efficiently: At push-off, you should extend your leg backwards by using the powerful muscles of your hip, rather than your low back as shown below:
A common error of extending your stride from your spine rather than from your hip can be caused by poor gluteal (buttock) muscle activation and/or having tight hip flexor muscles. Here is a picture of this gait deviation, which may lead to low back pain.
For more running tips, check out this link. For an individualized assessment of your running mechanics, consider visiting us at Symmetry. We’d be glad to help you to run right!