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Proper Running Form
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Happy Monday!

I hope you all had a great weekend! I definitely did, especially since I got to spend an evening hanging out with some good friends, and then spent Saturday morning cheering on several other friends at the F^3 Half Marathon. I was signed up for the race, but clearly wasn’t capable of running the half. I’m glad that rather than wallowing in my apartment, my friends inspired me to join them cheering on some of our fellow Chicago Bloggers. Plus, Molly came with us, so it was a good time for all.

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After I talked about my plan for returning to running, I got a couple questions about running form. I mentioned in the post that my legs are disproportionately long compared to my torso (aka my legs take up a lot of my height).

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Feel like you’re an anatomy class? I sure do.

Aaaaaanyway, my physical therapist game me some things to work on that would make running easier for body. Because my legs are so long, my hips have to work harder to move them. Now we’re in physics class: the longer the lever arm, the more force that’s required to move it:



lever arm

Gotta love paint.

Now, before I tell you about my running form, I want to emphasize a few things: this is MY running form, recommended to ME by my PHYSCIAL THERAPIST. I am not a doctor, physical therapist, or running expert. I didn’t even take physiology in college. Therefore, before messing with your running form, I highly recommend that you meet with someone who can give you tips on the best way to run for YOU.

Got it? Good.

First, here are some general running tips:

1. Have good posture. Shoulders back, chest out, stomach in. Stand up straight and pretend you’re in the army, how would you stand? You should try and keep this form when you’re running and not hunch over.

2. Lean Forward. We got the posture down, but now tilt your body ever so slightly forward so that you’re upper body isn’t straight up and down, but at an angle.

3. Hit mid-foot. Be sure that your feet are hitting the ground directly below your body, and that you’re not heel-striking. Heel striking occurs when your foot hits the ground slightly in front on your body and you end up slamming your heel into the ground. If you’re landing mid foot, it should feel lighter.

me SGK 1

 

Now, here are the things that my physical therapist asked me to work on:

1. Arm Swing. Unrelated to my legs, he noticed my arms tend to swing across my body, rather that straight forward (see above picture). I’d had this mentioned to me before by another person, so it’s clearly something that needs work. I’m using way too much energy swinging my arms, and it’s twisting my torso and giving my shoulders some pain (which I notice mostly during long runs).

You can swing your arms, just try and focus on having them pump forward and backward, as opposed to across your body. Also, avoid the t-rex arm, where your hand is way up near your shoulders. I like to drop my arms and shake them out occasionally while running to remember not to tense them up!

2. Knees forward and kick feet up. Here’s the main issue: I need to shorten my lever arm (legs). I’d been running with pretty small steps and not bending my legs too much. My physical therapist told me to thrust my knees forward with each step, which will naturally make my feet kick upwards behind me. It feels super awkward at first, and feels like I’m putting in much more effort. After doing short spurts of practicing, it’s started to feel much more natural.

3. Run Faster. My physical therapist watched me using this form at speeds from 6.0 – 8.5 mph and told me that when I run between 7.0 and 7.5 mph, my form is best. Since I’m starting off at short distances, I’m planning to run at this speed and hopefully I’ll be able to keep up as the distances get longer.

 

So there you have it, typical running form tips, and the specific tips my physical therapist asked me to work on. Haha, have I emphasized that enough? If you’re serious about running and/or have had some chronic injuries, I highly recommend seeing a physical therapist to get your running form evaluated. It was SO helpful!

Have you ever had your running form evaluated?

Anyone else have weird body proportions?



 

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