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Why is Focusing on your Running Form Important?

Category: Running Form

Car Analogy

Running with bad running form is similar to driving with a car with poor alignment. Over time, driving a car with poor alignment will wear down aspects of the car before its time, like its tires. You are also wasting fuel as poor alignment makes the car inefficient. Similarly if you are running with bad form you are wearing down aspects of your body too early, for example your knees. You are also changing the alignment of primary muscles, such as your hamstring, which makes them have to work harder to get the job done. Lastly, similar to the wasted fuel in your car, you are also not using your fuel, your nutrition and hydration, as efficiently as possible.

Bad form makes all those miles that you worked so hard on tougher and more exhausting, while increasing your risk for injury.

How it can reduce your susceptibility of developing injury?

Although it is true that there is no ideal running form for all runners, there is certainly bad form or red flags that are well respected by sports medicine clinicians, coaches and athletes.

Some classic red flags are:

  1. Pelvis instability that can cause excessive dropping and rotation of the pelvis increasing the stress at the knee.
  2. Running with weak core muscles causing your pelvis to tilt forwards or backwards, which changes the alignment of your muscles.
  3. Over striding, where your foot lands out in-front of your body, increasing the load on your leg bones.
  4. A low cadence, steps per minute, which increases the time your foot is in contact with the ground.
  5. Excessive pronation that can cause the knee to collapse similarly to an unstable pelvis.
  6. Excessive arm swing that is inefficient and can cause undesired rotations of the pelvis.
  7. Increase bounce of your center of mass as you move over the ground, which is inefficient since you are trying to run forward not up and down.
  8. High shock that can often be heard when the runner contacts the ground

How it can make you more efficient and increase performance?

A runner’s performance is often measured by their running economy, which is the energy demand needed at a given velocity. Again, think of your car, this would be comparable to the car’s fuel economy. Running economy is affected by aspects of your body and the environment, such as the heat, body weight, altitude, elements of your cardiovascular system and your form. Many runners put a lot of time and energy into these others aspects of their running, such as their endurance training, their nutrition and hydration, their racing weight, mental strategies but neglect their form. Treating form as an important part of your performance will make you a much more efficient runner.

For example, if you have an unstable pelvis with excessive pelvic drop or rotation, you are wasting energy as you are not able to push off a solid platform. Imagine trying to do a push up and the ground buckling below you, this would take a lot more energy than doing a push up on solid floor.