Running Form and Footwear

There have always been a new trend when it comes to running in recent years, especially when it comes to barefoot running and forefoot running.

Likewise, there have been many shoe manufacturers who have followed in making shoes that cater to the trends.  In fact, there seems to be those who are going with the new industry that will form to make the trends happen.

Let’s just face it; most of the hype is more about injury prevention and the run economy than anything else.  Is it true that the forefoot runners will have less running injuries then the heal strikers?

Is it true that forefoot runners have a better run economy than the heel strikers?  It is yes to both, but this does not necessarily mean that you need to go and buy the minimalist of a shoe or the most fashionable barefoot shoe.

If you have poor running form in a regular running shoe you will continue to have bad form with the barefoot/forefoot running shoes out there.  If you are going to make the transition, then fine, but make sure to do it slowly.

Make sure you are focusing on the basics of running before you make the switch because you cause an injury.

When it comes to transition footwear you need should go from a heel strike cushioned shoe, which are most running shoes to a mid-foot strike shoe like a Newtons or Zoot, and then go to the barefoot shoe if you really want to make the change.

The transition will need to be a long and slow process, at least one year for each of the transitions to prevent injury.  Before you make the change in footwear you should make sure that you change the way you run to the proper form.

Below you will find some things that a runner should focus on to get a better running form.  But you need to remember that in order to change your running form you will need to practice a lot, like swimming, a stroke won’t be improved if you don’t practice it.

To see a positive result you need to practice, but not everyone will have perfect form because of the way they are made.

Feet – Your feet should be facing straight ahead while landing directly under your hips.  The initial contact with the ground should be using the mid-foot.

The Cadence most adults should strive for would be a 90 – 95.  The Elite endurance runners will have this cadence.  This is not a natural cadence for most runners and will take practice to get to.  Most runners will have a cadence of 70 – 80.

The transition from a slow to a fast cadence can take one to two years of practice to get.  You will want to use your watch and count the number of times your right foot hits the ground in one minute.  That will be your cadence.

Legs – Your leg action needs to be relaxed and rather quick.  There also needs to be minimal to moderate knee lift.  The focus needs to be on beginning the push to the rear with the foot before your foot even strikes the ground.  The push-off should have your body going forward and not up.

Hips – Your hips need to be square and level and no movement to the side.

Torso – The torso needs to be erect or even slightly forward with the chest up. This will allow for plenty of room for the proper breathing action.  The center of your chest really should be over the balls of the feet.

Hands – The hands need to be in a relaxed manner.  You don’t want to waste energy making a fist.

Arms – Arms need to be able to swing freely, but generally in a forwards and backwards motion, but never crossing the body. Elbows need to be at a 90 degree angle with the forearms remaining parallel to the ground.

Shoulders – Your shoulders need to be level and square with the chest pointed forward.  You do not want to round the shoulders or swing them forwards and/or backwards.

Head – The head needs to be upright and your eyes focused forward somewhere on the ground about 45 – 70 feet in front of you.

Good luck!


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