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Biomechanics/Form 101!

Posted by Matt F.

OK...we're not all built like Kenyans, BUT this doesn't mean we can't emulate said runners and see SIGNIFICANT improvements in our running! Below are a few biomechanics/form 'quick hits' for your reading pleasure: -Upper Body Your shoulders should be relaxed and low. Avoid carrying tension in your shoulders. Sometimes your shoulders creep up towards your ears when you’re feeling fatigued. Your arms should be cocked at roughly a 90 degree angle. Avoid swinging your arms across your midsection. Your arms should swing roughly between your waist and your heart. DON’T let your arms swing across your midsection. You want to AVOID this kind of lateral motion. Your hands should be nice and relaxed. Don’t clench your fists. Think of holding a potato chip or butterfly in your hands. You don’t want to crush either! Keep your chest forward and fully expanded. This will maximize the amount of oxygen you can take in when you breathe. Your upper body should be slightly ahead of your hips when you run. Keep your eyes near the horizon. This helps you maintain all of the aforementioned. -Lower Body The ideal leg turnover is roughly 170-180 strides per minute. This comes to 85-90 footstrikes for each leg per minute. AVOID landing on your heel! This actually slows down your forward momentum and is in effect a braking motion. TRY to land with more of a flat foot. Your foot should plant with each stride in such a way that is roughly square underneath your hips with a slightly bent knee. Try to focus on a LIGHT footstrike. The most efficient runners are those who MINIMIZE the amount of impact associated with each stride. -The Lean The fastest runners in the world (most Kenyans) utilize a slight forward lean when they run. In utilizing this slight forward lean from the ankles (NOT THE WAIST!), they are able to accomplish much of what I’ve outlined above. When you lean, you are using gravity to your advantage. You should feel a ‘slight’ sensation of falling when you do this. This is OK, but will take some time to get used to. When the lean is utilized, your upper body naturally extends in front of your hips and essentially forces your foot to land squarely underneath your hips. Rather than landing on your heel and impeding forward momentum. If you want to dig a bit deeper, the following books are FANTASTIC: -Programmed to Run, Thomas S. Miller -Chi Running, Danny Dreyer -Why We Run, Bernd Heinrich
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