Posts Tagged ‘posture’

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     Many new runners want to improve their speed and strength by doing lots of additional exercises and sometimes even investing on expensive equipment. Doing these things is not bad – if the exercises are done correctly or if the equipment fits the runner, it may show good results. But great improvements in speed can be achieved by doing one simple step: refining your running form. Not only you can run more efficiently, but more importantly you’ll be less at risk of injuries.

Here are some tips to improve your form :

1. Look straight ahead

      Imagine you’re trying to catch someone or something that is moving 10 to 20 feet ahead of you. If you need to check your feet, make sure you don’t keep your head down for a long time. Looking ahead would straighten your spine and keep your neck from tensing up. Also, you can see what’s coming and keep yourself from bumping into something!

2. Shoulders down

      This doesn’t mean slouching your shoulders, but think about ‘pulling your shoulders away from your ears.’ Keep your shoulder blades to neutral, not too tensed or not too slouched down. This helps your arm swing and trunk rotation when you run.

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3. Hands to your pockets

      Don’t put them inside your pockets, but when you swing your arms keep them to the level where your pockets are or where your hands might slightly brush your hip. Keep your elbow at a 90 degree angle and point your hands forward. Remember that you want to move forward so you should swing your arms forward as well, not bringing your hands in front of your chest to keep your trunk from twisting too much.

4. Hold an egg

      You can observe that a lot of runners tend to clench their fists. This small movement causes tightness around the arms and even tension on the neck and shoulders. Imagine holding eggs with each of your hands – you don’t want to break them so gently cup your hands and relax.

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5. Land comfortably

      I once went to a department store in the Philippines to look for a pair of shoes. One salesman ambushed me with his trivia to convince me to buy his shoes. He said that runners should ALWAYS land on their midfoot. I disagree with this notion because runners have significant individual differences from one another. Most runners would be comfortable landing on their midfoot but if you have a high arc, it’s a different story. Also in terms of technique, if you want to sprint then you’re better off landing on your toes. Some people will be more comfortable landing on their heels and then rolling their foot, as long as they have enough heel cushioning. What’s more important is your ‘stride length’ – you wouldn’t want your leg to be way ahead of you unless you are sprinting. Your feet should land directly underneath your body and as your foot strikes the ground, your knee should be slightly bent naturally upon impact.

Land your feet directly under your body.

Land your feet directly under your body.

If you’re just starting to run, try to run naturally and slow first while checking out these 5 simple tips on how to improve your form.

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Running 101.1

Posted: August 29, 2013 in Running
Tags: , , , ,

My sister have just started running jogging with her friend a couple of months ago, and last week, she asked me to “coach” them on how to run properly. They always go for a jog on Saturday mornings since she goes to work very early. I usually run in the afternoon, before I teach my Pilates class at 7:30pm, but thank God I was able to get up early last Saturday to teach them.

They are targeting to run a straight 3km without stopping or walking too much. They said they usually run for a total of 15minutes or less, then just walk the rest of the hour.

Last month, I also taught my wife how she can jog for a longer period of time. She was a former sprinter back in high school and she’s used to short bouts of running. She asked me to teach her how she can jog and run longer. I am not a professional runner myself but I’m sharing what I learned and experienced as a conditioning coach at a running clinic.

First, I started by teaching them the proper running form and posture – most of these principles about posture are also from what I learned in Pilates! For the trunk: keep your head over your shoulders, your shoulders down and against your rib cage (you can observe some people running with shrugged and/or slouched shoulders), tuck your belly in (draw-in maneuver). Elbows should be bent at a 90 degree angle, and swing your arms as you run without moving your hand backward past your waist. Relax your hands and try to point your fingers (or just your hand) to the direction where you’re going. Some people run with their arms and hands all over the place – these unnecessary movements waste energy.

It’s hard to learn all those things and do them just in one session, so I proceed teaching the running mechanics: when you run, your hip is slightly at an angle to tilt your trunk towards the direction where you’re going, which should always be forward! So you should keep your abdominals engaged (draw-in maneuver) because moving your legs without engaging your core would cause your hip to tilt sideways or rotate. As you run, push yourself from your toes and extend your legs as far to the back and up as you can. Try to land on the middle part of your foot and not your heel. Imagine you’re “cycling” your legs on the road and keep your feet from “braking.” Run lightly, or as some put it, imagine you’re running over egg shells and you don’t want to crack them.

Side-stitching after about 2km.

There are lots of videos about running that you can find on the internet (what can’t you find on the internet?), but here’s one youtube video which gives a very good yet simple and brief instruction on mid-foot running:

I made my sister and her friend do the drill sequence in addition to their warm-up before we headed off to run. True enough, they realized how running efficiently with the proper form and technique conserves energy and kept them running a little longer. I gave them a simple yet challenging target for the program of the day, and they we’re able to reach their goal.

Working out your endurance is another thing, but proper mechanics and form greatly affects any physical performance. Apart from that, it helps minimize injury and keeps you from overloading your joints (think foot pain, knee pain, hip and back pain).

It’s not too late to run. What’s stopping you?




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