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Why Good Form Is So Important When You Run (And How to Get It)

Why Good Form Is So Important When You Run (And How to Get It)

Running is one of the best exercises for your physical and mental health, but when your form isn’t right, it can lead to sports injuries, such as plantar fasciitis, shin splints, Achilles tendinopathy, and more.

As a dedicated rehabilitation specialist, Dr. Dustin Hamoy, DPT, MTC, DNC, CKTP, CWCHP, knows firsthand how these sports injuries can derail your running plans. The good news is that you don’t need to let poor form lead to an injury. You can improve your form today.

Here’s why good form is so important and how you can get it. 

Why good form is so important

Good form isn’t just about looking good when you run. It can have a big impact on your performance and your health. Good form: 

Helps prevent injuries

Poor running form can lead to overuse injuries, such as shin splints, stress fractures, and iliotibial (IT) band syndrome. On the other hand, proper form helps distribute the impact forces more evenly and reduces your risk of injury.

Improves your efficiency

Good form enables you to use energy more efficiently, which allows you to run faster and longer with less effort. Proper biomechanics optimize the transfer of energy from your muscles to forward motion.

Improves your athletic performance

When proper form allows you to run faster and longer with less effort, that has a big impact on your athletic performance. Whether you’re trying to qualify for an important race or you simply want to improve your PR, the correct form helps you maintain a consistent pace and avoid unnecessary fatigue 一 and all of that means a better running economy for you.

Makes your run more comfortable

Going for a run can boost your mental wellness 一 the runner’s high is a well-known benefit for logging those weekly miles 一 but using the right form can make your run even more enjoyable. That’s because efficient movement patterns reduce discomfort and make running feel smoother.

What good form looks like

Good running form means that you run with an upright posture with a slight forward lean. Don’t lean too far forward: You want to keep your lungs as open as possible. Keep your head in a neutral position with your arms relaxed at a 90-degree angle. Your arms should swing naturally from your shoulders without crossing in front of your chest. Your arms’ contralateral movement helps propel your body forward. 

Your head, spine, and arms are only part of the equation. Your feet play a big role, too! Each foot strike should be light and quick. Aim for a midfoot or forefoot landing rather than excessive heel striking. (Heel-striking can increase your risk of injuries.) Ideally, you shouldn’t hear your footsteps either. If you hear clomping or shuffling noises, you may need to correct your heel strike. 

How to improve your form

One of the best ways to improve your form is to know what you need to improve and what you’re already doing right. Working with a dedicated running coach can help accomplish this goal, but you don’t necessarily need a running coach to assess your form. You can do it yourself. Consider recording yourself running and analyzing the footage. Identify any areas for improvement, and make adjustments accordingly. Pay attention to your upright posture, the position of your head, your arms (position and movement), and how your feet hit the ground. 

In addition to critiquing your form, you can improve your form by: 

If you feel like your movements are bouncy rather than smooth, immediately stop and reassess your posture. Bouncing, known as vertical oscillation, means that you propelled yourself too high and that can mean your feet experience a greater impact (and shock) as you land. Visualize smooth motions with a stride low to the ground, and imagine your body going through the proper form. Then, pick back up again and monitor for any red flags. 

You might also consider specific physical therapy stretches  such as hip flexor stretches, towel calf stretches, and anterior tibialis strengthening. These are helpful if tight muscles are contributing to your poor form.

How we can help

Even with the best form, running injuries still happen. At Precision Laser Joint and Spine Pain Center, Dr. Hamoy diagnoses and treats running injuries. Depending on what type of injury you have, you might benefit from multiwave locked system (MLS®) laser therapy (ASA Laser) and/or physical therapy.

To take advantage of our sports injury services, call our Glen Burnie, Maryland, office at 659-204-5737. Or, click here to book your appointment.

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