Working on your running form is not just for elite runners. Novice runners, experienced runners, competitive runners, or the runners who are “here for the beer” can all benefit from working on running form. No two runners are the same, therefore the form and technique will also look different. However, there are a few tips which can reduce the most common errors in running form.
While there are many different form faults, we will focus on two of the most common things I see. The first is heel striking. This term is referring to the position of your foot relative to your body when it initially hits the ground. While running you can either land on the ball of your foot (forefoot strike), land on the ball of your foot and heel simultaneously (midfoot strike), or your heel (heel strike). One study found that 70% of runners are “heel strikers” in some capacity (1). Wondering where you land? Take a look at the bottom of your running shoe, where your shoe shows the most wear is likely where you impact the ground first.
The second is “running too tall.” By no means am I instructing you to slouch while you run. Simply put, to propel yourself forward, it is important to lean where you want to go (forward). Shifting slightly forward encourages the rest of your body to follow. This also shifts your weight, making it easier for the glutes (your motor) to kick in. Running too tall and heel striking go hand in hand (or should I say foot and foot)?
The reason to focus on enhancing run form is twofold.
Efficent Run Form= Improved Performance
Running is all about efficiency. The most efficiently you run, the less energy and effort it requires. All of that translates into finishing faster (eating stuffing and gravy sooner) while feeling better. Striking with your heel first is essentially putting on the brakes with every step. With each impact of the ground, the ground sends a reactive force back. When hitting with your heel first, the ground reactive force is backward (aka, you’ve hit the brakes). Transitioning to a midfoot or forefoot strike minimizes the backward reaction force, and will allow you to propel forward while minimizing energy loss.
Efficent Run Form= Fewer Aches and Pains
While running, your body is subject to one and a half to three times your body weight with each step (2). Your body’s ability to absorb these forces and rate of absorption is key in avoiding injury. When your foot hits the ground, the impact is transmitted up through the ankle, knee, hip, and to your upper body. It has been found that forefoot and midfoot strikers show a lower loading rate (less stress) compared to heel strikers (2). Runners who habitually heel strike are twice as likely compared to runners who use mostly forefoot strike to sustain a stress-related running injury (1).
Don’t let heel striking make you miss the Turkey Trot. There are several simple drills and modifications you can make to alter your technique. Check out the video below where I give you two simple solutions to improve your run form!
Looking for more ways to improve your run form? Sign up for “Run Your Best Turkey Trot!” In this free one hour seminar, we will dive deeper into improving your run form and teach you exercises and running drills to change your form for good. For more details and to sign up click here!
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Your Best Turkey Trot
1. Daoud, Adam I., et al. “Foot Strike and Injury Rates in Endurance Runners.” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, vol. 44, no. 7, 2012, pp. 1325–1334
2. Lieberman, Daniel E., et al. “Foot Strike Patterns and Collision Forces in Habitually Barefoot versus Shod Runners.” Nature, vol. 463, no. 7280, 2010, pp. 531–535.