The three most common running errors (and how to fix them)
Today I've got a special guest post from the folks over at Pose Method. They recently contacted me about doing some collaborative projects with them and this is one of them. They sent me this article to share with you about how to avoid injury and improve your running using their tested methods.
It comes at an opportune time for me as well, seeing as I'm on the comeback trail from illness and working to be more efficient, log more miles and get faster, all while avoiding injury. And Pose Method helps you do just that.
This post isn't meant to be medical advice. If you have health concerns, please consult your doctor.
The information provided in this article is from the research and practice of Dr. Nicholas Romanov, PhD. More information about Dr. Romanov and the Pose Method can be found at posemethod.com.
Running is an activity enjoyed by millions across the globe. But did you know that nearly 85% of recreational runners are injured every single year? Can you think of any other sport or activity where that level of injury occurrence would be acceptable? Running injuries are a systemic problem that many acknowledge but few can seem to conquer.
In my work, I have found three common mistakes, which I call deviations, that runners often commit that lead to injuries. But first we need to clear a few philosophical hurdles so you understand my basis for categorizing something as an error or deviation.
For starters, we all have to agree on the leading fact at hand; runners suffer pain & injuries at a high rate. That is a conclusion I’ve found in the research and I welcome you to find the same conclusion yourself. Now, if a runner gets injured, we can likely assume that they must be committing some kind of error. Our bodies are designed to perform the task of movement, and it is completely reasonable to expect that we can move without suffering an injury. Finally, if you recognize that there must be the existence of an error or something being done wrong, then that means there must be a way of doing that is right.
To summarize: Injuries occur because of an error, which is a deviation from the correct execution. If there is a correct way to run, it will be based on identifying things that ALL RUNNERS do that is the same. This is where the Pose Method comes into play. Watch this quick video
Now that you have a brief overview of our standard model for running, you can easily identify errors, which I call deviations from the standard. In other words, when you watch a runner, anything extra outside of Pose-Fall-Pull are unnecessary additions to your gait that will likely result in pain or injury. Here are the three most common errors along with a drill you can use to address the issue.
1 - Overstriding
Overstriding is the most common error committed by runners. It is when a runner is exhibiting an excessive range of motion with their lower body. I like to call this Running with the Legs. You can identify it by the leg reaching far out in front and lagging far behind the body on every step. Many times, this error generates from poor coaching cues that paint the wrong picture. Have you ever heard a coach say “open up your stride”? The truth is, your leg movement is a consequence of the speed you are running, not the other way around, so you do not need to put any extra effort into it.
To address this error, you want to work on improving your pulling action. Running with resistance bands are a framing exercise that will help you pull your foot up under the hip. To do this drill, strap resistance bands around each ankle and have a partner stand behind you with the bands pulled tightly. Begin to run in place for about 10 seconds. Then, fall-forward and run for about 10 seconds, then stop, unstrap the bands, and continue running for 10-15 seconds.
2 - Bending at the waist
As it is titled, many runners bend forward at the waist when running. This can happen for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, this can be a fatigue issue. When you are on the trail, and you begin to wear down, your gait pattern will deteriorate. Bending at the waist will be one of the first places your body breaks down. Additionally, bending forward happens as a counterbalance to the legs reaching out in front.
Once you can identify this error in your own running, you will no doubt be able to recognize it happening during a run. Without stopping, simply reach behind your body and clasp your hands, straightening your arms. Run with your hands clasped for about 10-12 steps, then release your hands and continue running, while focusing on keeping your upright body position.
3 - Landing ahead of the body
First off, let me be clear, all three of these errors are related and one can easily contribute to another. You will rarely see an error in complete isolation. Landing ahead of the body is when, from the side perspective, your foot strike happens beyond your general center of mass. It does not matter if you are on the heel or any other part of the foot; if you are ahead of the body, then you are committing an error. Primarily, your legs will be out in front because you are late pulling your trail foot up off the ground.
The main focus for addressing this error is to change your perception during that moment of changing support from one foot to the next. Instead of seeking the ground with your airborne foot, you want to pay attention to when the support foot is no longer engaged with your body weight so you can pull it.
To begin, stand with on foot pulled up under your hip. This position is called the Running Pose. Begin to fall-forward, holding this body position as long as possible, then pull up your foot on the ground, allowing the airborne foot to fall and land into the next Running Pose. Focus on pulling your foot up, your airborne foot will fall without any help or guidance from you. The runner’s responsibility is pulling the foot up, the other foot landing happens as a byproduct. Do this for several reps and then slowly transition into a run.
If you want more help with improving your running form, including more unique drills and exercises, sign-up for the Beginner’s Guide to Pose Running program.