Is you running technique holding you back?


I was recently watching an episode of Friends and it promoted me to write a blog about running technique. I was watching “The One Where Pheobe Runs”, when Rachel is embarrassed by Phoebe’s odd running style and it reminded me how important it is to run with a good posture. For those of you that haven’t seen this episode, here is a short YouTube clip…

Whilst Phoebe appears to be very happy with the way she runs, I’m not sure that she has fully thought about the effect it can have on her body. Unfortunately Phoebe is not alone…when out running myself (particularly in Regents Park?!) I often see, what can only be described as “interesting” running techniques.  I see people waddle, bounce, stomp, shuffle and even see techniques that resemble more of a dance routine than a run! Check out this YouTube clip (by Matt Rittman) for other “interesting” techniques…

Poor running posture can effect your lung capacity, speed, endurance, lead to unnecessary injury and embarrass your running partner!

With this in mind I have put together a few simple reminders to help improve your running form.

1. Don’t over stride – your foot should strike the ground directly under your body. There is lots of debate over which part of your foot should strike the ground first…heel, mid foot, forefoot? In my proffessional opinion, the most important thing is where your foot lands in relation to the rest of your body. If done correctly, this should usually result in landing around the mid foot.
2. Take short, quick strides – be efficient with your energy – the longer you take with each stride, the more time the foot spends on the ground and therefore the more energy you have to use. Aim for 170-190 steps per minute. You can measure this using a metronome or simply count how many times your foot strikes the ground in 1 minute and x 2. Running to the beat of music can be helpful.
3. Run tall – don’t bend at the waist or slouch in an attempt to lean forwards. This should happen naturally from the ankles. Imagine a helium balloon attached to the tip if your head gently pulling you upwards as you run. Keep your chest up and shoulders relaxed. Running in a slouched position can compress your ribcage making it difficult to breathe and therefore run efficiently.
4. Compact arm swing – pump from your shoulders and have your elbows flexed at approximately 90 degrees. Don’t release this angle as the arms swing backwards.
5. Relax your wrists and hands – keep your hands in an unclenched fist. When I was at school I was taught to run imagining that you are carrying a crisp in each hand without crushing it – try it, it really works!
6. Look straight ahead  – don’t look down to the ground or jut your chin out. This will strain your neck and shoulder muscles.
7. Spring through each stride – push up and off the ground behind you.
8. Run quietly – avoid heavy striking of the foot to the ground. This can send shock and impact through the legs, leading to injury. Instead, land softly with a bent knee and relaxed foot.

Other important points to remember:

If it’s not broken, don’t fix it – if you are an experienced runner and have been running the same way for 10 years without any aches or pains, why change a good thing?
Footwear – Make sure you are wearing the correct trainers for your foot type and the type of running that you are doing. If you are unsure, visit a specialist running shop or ask one of the physio’s here at BOOST.
Gradual change – don’t make any drastic changes to your running style without giving your body time to adjust. Build up gradually by practicing your new style for 5mins on your fist run and increasing this by a couple of minutes each run.
Don’t run through pain – if you have any injuries or niggles make sure you see a physio.

Boost physio’s are specialists in assessing and treating all running injuries.

Written by Laura Harman
Specialist Physiotherapist

BOOST PHYSIO has 3 High Street clinics in North London and NW London. Hendon NW4, East Finchley N2 and Hampstead NW3.

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