Running Form Re-visited: Two Timeless Tips for Running Away from Injury

As physical therapists our job is to make sure we're on top of the most compelling research in body mechanics, efficiency, form, and healing. It's our job to make sure you're logging miles on the Central Park loop or crossing the New York City Marathon finish line. Whether you just want to run without your usual aches and pains, are looking to get back to sport after injury or surgery, or want to crush your previous record times-- we have the training program and the latest research for your goals. 

A recent article from Runner's World offers great insights into the world of running, whether you're a sprinter, casual runner, or ultra-marathoner, these tips are for you.

Get your running analyzed by a professional. 

To begin with, most people who make changes to their running technique often begin to run less efficiently, not more, but still report feeling like their form and time have improved. It's necessary to have that regular feedback from a professional to really integrate effective running technique to your training arsenal. Or, as Runner's World says: 

What caught my attention here is the disconnect between the perceptions of the runners, who felt like they were getting more efficient, and the cold hard measurements. That’s why, without meaning to sound too harsh about it, I basically disregard when people tell me they’ve tried New Fad X and it makes them feel wonderful: I have very little faith in the ability of anyone—myself included—to self-judge subtle changes in efficiency. Measure it (and get it peer-reviewed), or it didn’t happen.

Training with your running group or your marathon and triathlon buddies is great for motivation, but you need more to hone your running technique. Rely on professionals and the proper technical equipment for any efforts your might make towards re-training your gait, stride, and cadence. 

Train your gait before you rely solely on shoes to heal your running pains. 

The debate between barefoot running, customized shoes, and other specialty running gear is long and full of great research. While we could dig into all of this running research we'd rather start at the root of the problem: running form. 

Fancy footwear tries to offer a jogger the sensitivity to tell whether they are pounding the pavement and striking their heel painfully into the ground, almost forcing the runner to adjust to striking the ground with the middle of the foot. Some professionals might argue that heel striking is the root of many running injuries, but some theorize that impact might have more to do with injury. Either way, it seems landing gently on the pavement, as this NYT's article explores, can help prevent running related injuries. 

“One of the runners we studied, a woman who has run multiple marathons and never been hurt, had some of the lowest rates of loading that we’ve ever seen,” said Irene Davis, a Harvard professor who led the study. She pounded far less than many runners who land near the front of their feet, Dr. Davis said. “When you watched her run, it was like seeing an insect running across water. It was beautiful.”

You might not be able to tell if you're heel striking or landing with too much pressure, but our Noraxon treadmills can give you precise feedback on both while you train. 

These two tips really boil down to one unavoidable truth if you want to excel in your running and prevent or recover from injury. It's not something you do alone. Take this challenge on with a physical therapist in your corner. They'll offer the right insight and feedback to make sure you're running towards a long, healthy sprinting/jogging/marathon/triathlon/casual weekend run career.