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Natural Running Form

For the past 12 years, I have dissected and modified hundreds of shoes,
taught running form clinics around the country, opened a minimalist store in my
home town of Shepherdstown, West Virginia, directed races (from 5K fun runs to
marathons), got local children excited about running, and most importantly
listened with all my senses –starting with my bare soles. Unless runners
understand the important principles of the gait cycle, or running movement, it
can be difficult to know how to make the personal (and go-it-slow, gradual)
adaptation to natural running. Still, it bears mentioning: natural running is
not a brand or specific method, but rather what humans have done for millions of
years.   There is no perfect way to run and science will never give us all the
answers.  The beauty of running is in the play and art of the movement.

Although this information might appear technical in a few places, it can be
easily learned for all runners. Use this section together with the Drills and
Mobility and Stability as you progess.

Please view our videos on the “how” and “why” of learning a barefoot or
natural running style

Video Principles of Natural Running (1st presented at UVA
Running Medicine conference 2012)

Video Barefoot Running Style (1st presented at
AMAA Boston Marathon Sports Medicine Symposium 2011)

Good Form is just part of the Essentials of Efficient and Healthy Running

Running Form Principle 1:  Run Tall Posture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Correct

  • Run tall – imagine your column being stacked under your head
  • Look straight ahead to the horizon
  • Ball of foot and heel are level on ground
  • To move forward lean in like giving a kiss

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wrong:

  • Back Seat Posture
  • Bent Forward at Waist
  • Body Adjustments to Heel Lift

Running Form Principle 2:  Strong and Stable Core

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Correct:

  • Core = abdominals, hips, and glutes
  • strong and stable while in motion
  • proper timing  of nerves  and muscles- neuromuscular
  • allows optimal energy transfer from the ground

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wrong:

  • Back Seat
  • Head Forward
  • Hip Dip – See picture below, weak hips
  • Side to Side Motion

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back Seat            Good!            Head Forward

Courtesy “Anatomy for Runners” by Jay Dicharry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hip Dip

Running Form Principle 3:  Arms and Hands

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Correct:

  • arms set rhythm
  • elbows at 90 degrees or less
  • relaxed rearward drive of  elbow
  • arms reflexively come forward
  • knuckles close to sternum- foot always lands under hand.

 

 

 

Wrong:

  • hands should not cross center
  • do not pump arms
  • arm out in front and overstride

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look at the Hand, out in front.  Where is the foot landing?

Running Form Principle 4:  Feet 

 

 

 

 

 

Correct:

  • Feet land close to center
  • FULL foot contacts ground
  • Balance and Rhythm
  • Legs store and release energy
  • use glutes to get foot down  and generate more spring and power

 

 

 

 

Look at the Feet….Perfect Foot Placement

Wrong:

  • Overstride forefoot landing- foot stretched out in front
  • Forefoot landing without letting  heel settle down (running on balls of feet)
  • Overstride heel  landing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forefoot Landing too far in front

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overstride!

Running Form Principle 5:  Cadence and Rhythm

 

 

Correct:

  • harness the energy from your springs
  • Engage the glutes and pop off the ground
  • extend hips to  propel forward
  • cadence 170-180 steps per minute
  • Find rhythm that is natural for your springs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wrong:

  • Do not actively lift your leg upward- let it spring
  • Slow sticky over-stride pattern. Uses excessive muscle energy.
  • Cadence too fast overdriving spring

Begin to Run

To bring this all together- 1-2-3 Run!

  1. Get Tall
  2. Run in place with elastic rhythm
  3. Move Face Forward

…now to go faster push a bit and extend

To see this in video go here

A few extra words of wisdom from my friend Brian Martin in Australia

While it’s easy to describe the principles of good natural running technique,
it’s much harder to learn them; this is where experiencing different stimulus
such as barefoot running, wearing minimalist running shoes, strength training
and using specific mental cues to activate your buttocks can help.

Learning any new skill takes time and experimentation, so it’s better to
think of it as a cycle rather than a linear progression with a fixed end point.
You can always keep learning and evolving; new discoveries feed your progress
and inspire new levels of performance, but you must be prepared to try and fail
as part of the journey. This is where taking things slowly is all important, as
it keeps the magnitude of any failure small i.e. a bit of soreness and a day off
running rather than a full blown injury that keeps you out for months.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We often get questions on differentiating what we teach from Pose Running.  go to the article linked here which was presented as a handout at UVA Running Medicine 2012

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