Jun 14 2016 – Running rocks right? It’s accessible to pretty much anyone, anywhere in the world and in any climate. It’s fun, gives us an opportunity to explore our community and can be a great avenue for social interaction with other too if you choose.
The downside to all of this is that Running has an unfortunately high incidence of injury, with some studies estimating that up to 79% of running athletes (that’s you!) will sustain a run related injury over the course of their career. many common running injuries can result from poor running form.
Good form can work wonders for preventing and helping in the rehabilitation of run related injuries. While there are different running styles advocated by different experts, one style that I like a great deal is the forefoot strike form described by Nicholas Romanov in his excellent and easy to read book The Running Revolution: How to Run Faster, Farther, and Injury-Free-for Life.This forefoot strike form (versus a more traditional heel strike form) allows the forces of the ground strike to be absorbed along a chain of soft tissues rather than through the joints and if done well can help to prevent the onset of many common run injuries.
While I strongly recommend checking out Romanov’s book. The below is a cheat sheet to the basics of adopting a forefoot run style and should get you started on this pattern. This list is not comprehensive but gives you a good baseline from which to start working.
Maintain athletic stance – You will shift your center of mass onto your toes with a slight bend in your knees. This is your basic stance, keep that weight over the forefoot at all times, your heels will only ever “kiss” the ground.You should be able to perceive your center of mass over your base of support (your forefoot). Notice how leaning forward or back shifts your perception of the center of mass in your feet.
Lean forward with your chest! Lean forward from the ankles so that your center of mass moves forward of your feet to the point where you perceive a “falling forward” sensation. A cue that may resonate is “lead with your chest” as you run.
Control your midline – Your trunk should be vertical and your pelvis (think beltline) horizontal throughout the run. If you are side bending or weaving like Sylvester Stallone in a rocky training montage through your stride, we need to talk!
Land on the ball of your foot – The key element of forefoot running style is (obviously) to strike the ground on your forefoot (the ball of your foot)! Using a forefoot strike running style requires changes to the way you think about your gait. In general you’ll need to shift your weight forward (lean in to the run), and take smaller steps with a higher turnover frequency.
Strike with your foot under your hip – When you do touch down on your forefoot, you will strike with your foot as close to under your hip as possible. Your swing leg (the leg that isn’t supporting you in stance) will pull to a “figure 4” position with the foot just under the the knee of the stance side.
Running with a forefoot strike is a skill that takes practice! Be patient with yourself and be persistent when you don’t immediately nail it. After all, would you expect to be able to serve a 120km/h tennis ball on your first lesson?
Take a look at the video attached here that will demonstrate the key points outlined above. Have fun with your run training and as always don’t hesitate to contact me with questions!
Further reading (if you really want to impress all of your friends).
Pipkin, A., Kotecki, K., Hetzel, S., & Heiderscheit, B. (2016). Reliability of a Qualitative Video Analysis for Running. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, (0), 1-34.
Romanov, N (2014) The Running Revolution: How to Run Farther, Faster, and Injury Free for Life, Penguin Books
Starrett, K (2014), Ready to Run: unlocking your potential to Run Naturally, Victory Belt Publishing