WHY IS RUNNING FORM IMPORTANT?
Running, like any sport, can be done both effectively and ineffectively. Yet How many runners have had lessons on how to run? Learning correct running form will help runners have an effective and safe way to run so they can avoid injury and run faster with less effort. We believe that as runners learn to run better, they will in turn love to run more.
Attention to running form is a major factor in how effective a runners is, regardless of skill level. Running with proper technique initially requires a concerted effort and involves the entire body. However, once mastered, good technique allows a runner to run with increased efficiency, reduced fatigue and less risk of injury.
Changing technique will require time and use different muscles. Making these changes incrementally will help you run faster, easier and healthier.
WHAT IS OVER-STRIDING?
In the first example, we see a very common running form. The runner extends his front leg and makes contact with the ground with his ankle IN FRONT of his knee. This is what we call over-striding. You'll hear people call this "Heel striking". The problem with this term is that then people try and compensate and land on their toes, but their ankle is still in front of their knee, not allowing the knee to bend and work as a shock absorber.
In the second example, we see a healthier and more efficient running form. The runner keeps his forward moving leg and foot relaxed and lands with the ankle slightly behind the knee in the bent-knee position. This allows the leg to function as a shock absorber to reduce impact. The runner is now in a sprung loaded position, ready for the next push off.
HOW CAN I CORRECT OVER-STRIDING?
Out of the thousands of runners we see come through the store that over-stride, there are a few simple concepts that we've seen help correct over-striding. First, a FORWARD LEANING POSTURE. Many runners over-stride because their posture is too vertical (perpendicular to the ground), and in order to generate forward movement, they reach forward with their leg and have to pull their body forward. A forward lean beginning at the ankles helps produce forward movement and places the the hips over the ankle, allowing for the bent-knee landing. Running is simply controlled falling.
Second, CADENCE. Cadence is the frequency of steps you take per minute. Ideally you want to strive for a cadence between 165 - 180 steps per minute, this will vary slightly for every runner. Proper cadence will help reduce over-striding simply because, in order to maintain the cadence, you don't have time to be reaching forward. Striving for that 165 - 180 cadence will help reduce ground contact time, which in turn reduces the amount of impact.
Now with this increased cadence it does not mean that you are taking shorter strides, your stride length often will be longer. The big difference is, your stride takes place behind your center of gravity with a more efficient toe-off. Think about pushing behind you, rather than reaching in front of your body.
In the first image we see our more efficient runner (runner 1) with good forward lean and a high cadence. Notice the relaxed legs and feet, lower legs and feet are very parallel at toe-off. In the image of the average runner (runner 2), which has a lower cadence, we see how the forward leg is already swinging forward and the foot is flexed.
In the second image, we can see the difference between these two runners just after toe-off. The more efficient runner's back leg, who pushed pack rather than reaching, is fully extended using the glute muscles. The less efficient runner's back leg is already bent due to using hamstrings instead of glutes at toe-off, note the differences in the front leg and feet.
This focus on pushing behind, rather than reaching in front in combination with a cadence between 165-180, allows for a bent-knee landing. This reduces impact and increases efficiency.