For those of you who were “Friends” watchers you might remember one episode where Phoebe Buffay was trying to get Rachel Green to run like a child through the park and stop worrying about how she looked. No? Well here’s a quick reminder/laugh Hopefully there aren’t any of you that are out there running with quite the child like style that these two perfected but no matter your caliber level there are always several small things that can help your running economy.
Running is something that many people don’t think about as being an issue because nearly everyone can run and has run at some point in their life. Ultimately this means that very few athletes have ever been taught to run. I know it sounds weird, huh? But Google “running” and you will see what I am talking about in the paragraphs to come.
A great deal of runners out there are what many would consider heel strikers. Now for me personally this was my running form years ago because that was emphasized by a high school coach. With the knowledge that I now have of biomechanics and physiology this makes absolutely no sense whatsoever! With every heel strike your body is decelerating and the shock/force that is being place on your bones, muscles and tendons is very high. This not only increases the amount of fatigue that is placed on your body but also increases your risk of injury because all of that force is being transfered from your feet into the rest of your body.
In the past several years there has been a large spike in the popularity of barefoot running and shoes which I think was made popular by the Nike Free early on and then amplified in theory and simplicity by Vibram Five Fingers. However for many these simply force you to become a midfoot runner and don’t necessarily make you focus on it which in turn can lead to additional risk of injury because we are forcing something that is not yet natural.
With all of this in mind the next step is how to change and what to think or look for in order to increase your running economy. One of the key things that can help you to decrease the amount of the slowing phase(heel strike) of your running stride is to increase your lean angle. A good example of proper lean angle is to stand with your feet flat on the ground and lean forward from your ankles. At the point where you begin to lose balance and fall you will place your foot in front of you. Think of this as overcoming static inertia and by leaning all you are doing is placing one foot in front of the other in order to keep from falling over. This one little tip helps many people to lessen their heel strike and can often increase your running pace without increasing your perceived exertion. Just like many old habits you will find that your running ones will die hard, even after several minutes. If you need to stop and start over with the lean angle you can. Just like barefoot running you will want to start off with minimal time 5-10 minute runs and then build your time from there once you feel you have maintained proper form for the entireity of the run.
Interested in having your form analyzed? Contact SoS to schedule a run form analysis session today!