Category: Running Form
An important principle is to gradually ease into your new mechanics and eventually finish with a maintenance program that involves less coaching time. The second thing, of equal importance, is to ensure that your body has an adequate foundation of stability (strength) and mobility (flexibility/range of motion) to effectively begin training your body to move in a more efficient way. For example you need a stable foot and pelvis to push off and a mobile ankle and hip to allow the leg to swing correctly through the gait cycle.
Changing your form takes time since you are changing the demands of your body. You need to ensure you have enough strength in the muscles that you need for your new form, you need to teach your brain to recruit these muscles and you need to learn to do it all while running. Therefore, it is best to change your form before or after a training program (e.g a 12 week half marathon training program) rather than during your training. Training already puts a large demand on your body so increasing that demand can lead to too much stress on your body. It is possible to retrain your body to run with efficient form during your race training but it needs to be done very gradual.
Running Form modifications are a topic that has gained a lot traction over the last few years. Most of the conversation revolves around changing your foot strike pattern or transitioning to be a barefoot runner. The barefoot training programs suggest starting off gradual by only running 1 mile or so in the beginning and then increasing your distance slowly over a few weeks. This should also be considered when changing an aspect of your form. Changing your form will always feel bad before it feels good. Think of how you feel when you increase your pace, you have pushed your body out of your comfort zone but eventually your body adapts. The great thing is the basic principles of these progressive programs are the fundamental principles remain true for most gait training.
Here is an adaptation of Dr. Davis’s advice via barefoot running tips and training with respect to the pelvis:
Build up slowly!
If you vigorously work out any weak muscles in your body, they will be sore and stiff. So please, don’t overdo it doing too much too soon often results in injury.
Dr. Carey Rothschild has also published on the topic. Below is an adaptation to her barefoot progression plan (3) summary table of her suggestions.
This one can be adapted as follows:
Table 2: Sample of running form progression program
|Week 1 – 4||preparatory exercises: 2-3 times per week. Be mindful of creating a neutral pelvis while walking for 30 minutes daily.|
|Week 5-6||running ¼ mile -1 mile: 2-3 times per week. On a surface such as a grassy field or rubberized track.|
|Week 7-8||increase by 10% to ⅓ – 1 ¼ miles: 2-3 times per week. On a surface such as a grassy field or rubberized track.|
|Week 9 +||increase by additional 10% to ½ – 1 ½ miles: 2-3 times per week. Progress to smooth paved surfaces as desired.|