Three wrong ways to run and their solutions

Three wrong ways to run and their solutions

“One practice runners fall into is the tendency to ‘heel strike’ or land too severely on the heels of their feet during a run,” said Chad Allred, physical therapist at American Fork Hospital. “If your stride is too far out when you heel strike, the heels then act like a brake, and the momentum is transferred up through the joints rather than the muscles, causing potential joint injuries in the legs.” 

Allred suggested runners’ feet should be more under their center of gravity when running so their leg muscles take the force rather than the joints. He advised shortening stride length to land with a slight heel-foot strike, mid-foot or even a subtle forefoot strike, keeping away from a full-force land on the heels.

Another common problem to look out for is trunk rotation, or how much the upper body is twisting from side to side. Excessive trunk rotation can negatively affect speed and efficiency during a run. 

Allred said one strategy to address this is to pay attention to changes in speed, which may give runners queues to think about form and try to correct it. He recommended trying a phone app to help such as TempoRun, which allows you to keep track of your pace, or AudioStep, which measures your cadence (how often your feet touch the ground) while running. 

A third common mistake for runners is under-training or failing to prepare their bodies for the extent of the race. “One of the biggest mistakes in preparing for a long run is not training adequately for the distance of it,” Allred said. “If you’re preparing for a half-marathon (13.1 miles), and train by running only six or seven miles, you set yourself up for injury because the race is significantly more mileage than your training distance.” 

The physical therapist said it’s also critical to prepare for the terrain of a race. If the course includes downhill terrain, the participants need to have some of that in their training.