Here in our clinic we treat runners of all levels, and while our manual techniques and rehab exercises assist our clients in returning to running, we find that education on parameters of running including form, training modalities and training schedules are often what make the longest lasting impacts.
Running form is typically only one small piece of the puzzle when it comes to recovery from injury, however, it can play a larger role when we are working on improving running efficiency. Before we dive into running form basics it’s important to note, there is no one distinguished “Perfect Running Form.” Every individual is different and what works for one person may not be as efficient for another.
Foot Strike Pattern:
There are three basic types of foot strike rearfoot (Heel), midfoot and forefoot (Toe) strike.
Evidence shows that no one strike pattern is less likely to lead to injury than another, and how you strike is not as important as where. No matter which part of the foot you strike with, it’s important to strike with your foot close to your body as it is already moving backwards towards you.
If your foot strike is too far away from you, it’s like putting the brakes on even though you are attempting to continue to move forward. This braking force places a large amount of stress on the lower extremities, especially the lower legs and has been shown to be correlated to injuries such as lower leg stress reactions, tibial stress syndrome and more
Cadence (correlates to stride length at any given speed):
Cadence is defined as the number of steps taken per minute, This is our Number 1 running form characteristic that we work on with individuals at our clinic.
Simply working on cadence, which is easier to do and is more likely to create long lasting change than other form corrections, can help to improve many aspects of running form including stride length and vertical oscillation.
It has been widely accepted that 180 steps per minute is the goal to aim for, however, our answer is – it depends. What does it depend on? The runners height, running speed, injury history, and goals can all cause cadence to vary person-to-person.
Hip extension is one of the primary ways to get forward propulsion. In order to achieve good propulsion, we must first be sure that you have access to this range of motion as well as the ability to produce power.
Although less commonly something we work on with running clients directly, if hip extension strength or range of motion is significantly impaired it is something we need to address.
Studies have shown that competitive level runners have greater single leg stability during running than recreational runners. We bring this up, because hip stability helps improve your running efficiency.
The less stable your body is, the more energy is required to propel the body forward.
By addressing single leg balance and reactive stability through the hips, you can become a more efficient runner.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
If you want to be a stronger, more efficient runner, spending time on the fundamentals is key. By giving your body the tools to run better you can not only improve your run times, but also decrease your injury risk.
Because of this we have created an EBook on mobility for runner that is absolutely FREE.