Runner’s come in many shapes, sizes and styles. One running form does not fit all people nor does it guarantee superior performance or freedom from injury. However, knowing some basic concepts can help you get the most out of your running experience. To keep it simple we like to use the acronym LARS. As you are running down the street or along a trail experiment with these concepts. It will take time to become proficient, but it is definitely worth your time.
Running is a series of controlled falls. By keeping your center of gravity slightly forward you move forward more naturally and with less energy. Stand tall and sense where the pressure in your foot is. For most people you will feel more pressure in the heel area. Now, keeping your body completely straight lean forward about 1inch pivoting at your ankle and keeping your body straight. You should now feel pressure towards the front or ball of your foot. This is the slight forward lean you should maintain while running.
Keep the front of your knee positioned in line with the center of your foot. Your knee is designed to function primarily like a hinge. As runners fatigue or become inattentive to their form their knees may rotate or drift inward excessively and put extra strain on the knee. This extra strain leads to many injuries including: runner’s knee, IT band syndrome, shin splints and stress fractures.
Have a friend record you at the end of a run or race. You may be surprised to see how much your knees drift inward. Gluteal strengtghening and balance training are the best ways to improve the fitness of the muscles that control inward motion.
Allow your hands, shoulders and face to relax while running. Relaxation of these areas will conserve energy and allow for more fluid movement of your body.
Envision yourself as Pocahontas lightly running through the forest as opposed to King Kong stomping through New York City. Running on a treadmill is the best way to sense your impact because it is much easier to hear. You may be tempted to prance on your toes but that will quickly cause foot and heel pain. Focus on a soft, full shoe contact.
Remember, improving your running form takes time. By remembering the simple acronym LARS you can spend a few minutes during each running to give your running form a tune up.