Archive for the ‘running technique’ Tag

To improve your running form, first address your everyday posture

Many people come to me and say things like, “I have tight quads,” or shortened hamstrings or a tight piriformis. Then they ask what they should do to correct it. They often expect me to show them a stretch or a compensatory strengthening exercise and are often surprised at my response.

Rather than addressing the isolated muscle, it is important to follow with another question: “Why?” Why is the muscle tight, what is the source of the tightness? People are not generally born with one muscle or muscle group atypically tight, rather, it is likely that the way that they are moving is contributing to the tightness. The true origin often has little or even nothing to do with their running, though it likely affects their runs.

For example, if a person sits most of the day in a slumped posture, their hamstring muscles may become tight. Then, when they go out for their weekend run, the tight hamstrings have an effect on their running form. Further, if they attempt to run with proper form, they may be unable to because of the tight hamstrings.

This is why teaching participants how to balance their postures when they stand, sit, walk, move – even sleep – is a part of every Long May U Run clinic. The body that we run in is the same body we live in when not running. And what we do when we’re not running must affect our runs.

So, the next time you hear someone saying something like, “Running injuries are due to the prevalence of tight iliopsoas muscles,” remember to ask the follow-up question – “Why?” Why do so many people have tight iliopsoas muscles? The answer to the second question leads to the solution that will help your running. Chances are that the source is a daily posture that is out of balance.

Then, learn to balance your posture in your daily activities and to run with balanced running form so that you can enjoy a lifetime of running.

And please continue to stop by the Long May U Run website and Facebook page for continued information on running form and future events.

Runners: Don’t hurt the ground!

I’ve been fine-tuning my running form lately. As a yankee who lives in the deep south, summer is my off-season, a time to cut mileage, build strength and fine-tune my form. Each time I go out for a run, I’m focusing on one particular aspect of form. It’s not a well-planned thing, it just seems to come to me when I step out the door.

I’ve recently been working on my landing (I’d noticed that my left foot was landing too flat) and lifting my legs with both my hip flexors and my heel (I’ll describe this better in another post) and have been pleased with my progress. But I like to get to the point where I have some general image in my mind rather than a strictly mechanical, this-body-part-does-this approach. Continue reading

Running Form Quick Checklist

It’s so beautiful outside, it would be a shame to not run. So, I took a short break right in the middle of my day today and went for a quick run. And I’m so glad that I did.

I’ve been inconsistent lately, and wanted to make sure that no form problems crept in, so I went through a quick mental checklist as I ran. It goes something like this…

  • Am I relaxed? Are there any areas of tension? Any muscles contracting that are not needed to perform the essential task of running?
  • Am I lifting my legs (good) or pushing off and breaking (not good)?
  • Are my abdominals relaxed and my spine elongated?
  • What is my footfall like? Full-foot? Are my steps swift and light, or do I land hard?
  • Am I enjoying the run?

With these basic checks on my form and some new music on my iPod, I had a great run and got back up to my desired mid-week distance.

Runners: Focus on form first, then repetition, then speed

Chat with runners for any length of time and the topic often jumps to speed. What is your PR? What was your time on your last 5K? What time are you shooting for in your next race?

While time is an important and engaging part of running, if you work on speed before laying a solid foundation, you will be more likely to be out of the game with pain or injury.

Instead, build a healthy, balanced form, then add repetition (run with good form for awhile), and then once comfortable with your form over a period of time, address speed. It’s as simple as this: if you add speed to poor form, you will have pain, then injury. Just ask the 80% of runners who are sidelined each year.

And if you run with good, balanced form, you can run for life.

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