Yoda Says: Run Better? Check form.

I learned to LOVE running when I finally made a choice to focus on my form.

Over the past 30 + years of running, playing soccer and countless races, I learned to run slow, fast, short, medium and long distances, to hydrate, to eat well, and get sleep (if you can) before races.

I never thought about my form as a runner.

As a result, I ended up with a slew of injuries and x-tra gear; pain in my metatarsals (across toes), IT band pain, piriformis pain, rotator cuff pain, heel pain, shin splints, a ganglion cyst on my ankle, x-rays, the “boot”, and $350 orthotics, and many stabilizing shoes.

It’s just the life of a runner! With each visit to the doctor, he would say “Don’t run for at least six weeks!

Gasp. I just HAD to run ya know? So I would go right back out there exactly 6 weeks later and get injured again. 🙂

Alas! The running skies opened in 2005.

That was the day I read a small article about running form in our local paper, The Charlotte Observer. The author suggested that we consider our body mechanics and alignment while running versus just the shoes. It made so much sense! But who knew? My previous foot doctors had never analyzed my form, nor had I!

Was the author actually saying it might be me not the SHOE?

This reminded me CarTalk on public radio! He suggested we poor injured readers reach out to ultra runners Barefoot Ted or Danny Dreyer for additional help. Dreyer had just published a book called “ChiRunning” which combined good running form, with physics and the ancient martial art of Tai Chi.

I was not ready to go barefoot then but decided that day as a trainer, and an injury-prone runner, to pursue ChiRunning with all my might.

My injuries went away almost overnight.

You can imagine how I became a RAVING fan! Such a fan I decided to become an instructor and have been teaching this form and philosophy along with instructors all over the world since 2007.

Chi Running decreases injury while enhancing energy efficiency, speed, mental clarity and joy (because you are not injured and probably faster).

The key components of good form: Excellent posture, alignment and relaxation of your shoulders, arms and feet, an engaged core, a quicker, shorter mid-foot stride and a very slight lean from the ankle (Why lean? Physics).

The fee: Free. You just have to be mindful. As we instructors like to say, focusing on your form with every step you take is a tiny price to pay if it will enable you to run injury free, or get back to running.

Are You Injured? Let’s check your form!

Look down at your feet. Do you splay your feet? That splay in your right or left foot may explain your ongoing knee, IT band and hip pain on the same side. Tip: Align your feet hip width and parallel.

How is your posture? Do you stand, work, walk and run hunched over or with poor posture? Got text neck? This creates stress in your neck, upper and lower back, hamstrings and knees. Pore posture also compromises your ability to inhale and exhale efficiently when exercising. Tip: Run tall and lightly. Align your ears, shoulders, hips and feet in a vertical column and engage your core. Check what this looks like in a mirror.

How do you use your arms? Do you even use them? You should! Do your arms “sashay” or swing laterally as you run? Hello IT band and hip pain! Maybe even rotator cuff pain. Tip: Align arms parallel and at a 90 degree angle on flats. Allow them to glide fully as you run.

Check your shoes. Are the heels of your shoes built up? Are they clunkers? Not everyone needs a light minimal shoe, but long ago I learned that it is YOU not the shoe that needs to work harder to prevent injury! Tip: Try on a lighter neutral shoe.

Why? If you have a shoe with nosebleed heels or a high heel-to toe drop, it will simply encourage heel striking and related pain (think shin splints, plantar and achilles pain, fractures, runners knee and back pain). Note, if you still prefer cushion, there are several popular new cushy rides on the market such as Hokas.

Run to cadence. Our military figured this out long ago! Tip: Run with a metronome or find songs with a 175-180 bpm. Or run to your own waltz, right 2,3, left 2,3 and so on.

Tight shoulders? When running, do you ruminate about your job, the family, boyfriend, girlfriend, bills, competitors, and your to-do list? Tip: Get in the flow. Use runs to focus on you – your form, nature and breathing.

As you focus on your form and relaxing whether running solo or with groups, you will run more efficiently, faster, and eventually look or feel like you are gliding like a Kenyan!

Use these tips!

Your running life may truly change.

You may change.

 

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