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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

As I wander through the pages of Spark people and other publications I notice the pictures of people running since I am a running coach. I am continually amazed or appalled; choose one or both, at the faulty running mechanics displayed in those photographs. The runners are over striding, landing heel first with knees locked and with their centre of mass behind their foot strike. Why are these pictures which are used? Is a puzzlement
I would think that a fitness website would have an obligation to edit the photo content to ensure that pictures of faulty mechanics for any exercise activity not show poor form. People are visual by nature and will mimic what they see more frequently than try to replicate words which they read. Poor form leads to injury in addition to the discouragement of not finding an activity comfortable and rewarding. While people will pay to have a personal trainer correct their form on gym machines, or pay a pro to improve their gold stroke or tennis stroke seldom is a trainer consulted concerning running form.
In today’s Minneapolis Star tribune is a picture of a mother and son running in a race held yesterday around one of our numerous lakes. Taken from the front the picture demonstrates the running form of the two runners in the foreground of the picture revealing their running form. The mother is over striding and about to land with a locked heel strike while her 7 year old son is landing on the ball of his foot with a flexed knee and his centre of mass over his foot strike. Does this reflect that as adults we somehow lose the muscle memory as to how to run which we had at a young age?
The next time you see a runner notice how they are running. Are they all herky jerky or are they flowing smoothly appearing to barely touch the ground? How loud are their footfalls, is there a slapping sound or a thudding? Then take notice of youngsters running, preferably those under ten or so years. Running is or should be a series of controlled “falls” landing on the mid foot with a flexed knee under your centre of mass.
How are your running mechanics?
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Great Blog. This really makes me question my form. I am always concerned with posture and never really worried about foot strike ( especially in winter as I keep my stride short on snowy/ icy roads ). I will definitely pay more attention from now on!
    2304 days ago
    Good vids and info. I'll have to focus more next time I run to see if I am feeling the strikes. I actually do think I am running pretty smoothly, but then again, some of those pros do too and yet there were some critiques of their form. LOL
    2305 days ago


    Read the comments when they appear in these URLs.


    If you highlight them you can open them from here.

    2305 days ago
  • NWFL59
    Thanks for the information.
    2305 days ago
    As usual, great info. But do you have a good short vid or pics that you can post to show us what you are talking about. As you say, these pics are more useful that verbal descriptions. I do think I run right, but would love to see more of what you are talking about to make sure.
    2305 days ago

    Note I did not say flexing your knee I said with it flexed, meaning slight bend. Landing with the knee flexed serves two purposes, it allows the leg to absorb the impact, then when you straighten it it propels you forward into your next stride.
    2305 days ago
    A stupid question, if I may?: By 'flexing your knees' do you mean tightening/locking them, or do you mean holding them in bent position?? (Thank you!I really appreciate your blogs)
    **Family kidnapped by ninjas, need $2 for karate lessons! ** --placard seen on street person

    2305 days ago
    "Does this reflect that as adults we somehow lose the muscle memory as to how to run which we had at a young age?" I'd say, yes. I've studied Alexander Technique for two years now, and the basis of that practice is regaining our 'natural' balance, use of our body, and learning to unlearn all the stiffness and inefficient ways we have learned to be.

    Good blog!
    2308 days ago
    Great point. It can be hard convincing the photographer that the image has to not only be attractive or interesting but also accurate. When our campus photographer shoots pictures with students in my lab I always have to remind him that a certain shot might look dramatic or "scientific" but nobody would do things the way the students are posed.

    I have several student advisees who are distance runners and I've talked to them about form once I started taking running a bit more seriously. I've been working on their advice and think I'm doing alright but I really need to have someone watch me. We never seem to be at the fitness center at the same time but I think I'm going to have to just do it once the next semester starts.
    2308 days ago
  • MISSG180
    Because I have just started running after being diagnosed with some spinal osteoarthritis, I'm focusing on keeping my stride short, my landing soft on the balls of my feet, and my knees flexed. I figure that protecting my back is vastly more important than speed, and though I'm only running a 13-14 minute mile at this time, I'm forcing myself to be patient in building my muscular and connective tissue strength before thinking much about my speed at all. Slow and steady is vastly superior to fast and then dead-stopped by injury.
    2308 days ago
    Good information.
    2308 days ago
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