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7 Reasons Why Mo Farah Stays Injury-Free And How You Can Too (Conclusion)

By on Sep 8, 2013
Image of Mo Farah and fun runners

Alberto Salazar has overhauled the running form of countless elite athletes. But do his techniques apply to your average runner, as well as the elite? And, if so, what are practical steps that you can apply to your running? This article investigates the Salazar steps to injury-free, high-performance running – for runners everywhere.

Earlier this week we started our review of the top 7 factors behind Mo Farah’s consistent, injury-free success. You’ll find the start of the article here; today we conclude the countdown by considering the practical modifications that runners everywhere can make to their running form to reap the benefits of the Salazar approach.

Your running form

The Salazar approach has a number of practical implications for everyday runners. This has been highlighted in various forms in a number of recent articles – from the likes of Competitor.com, Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Fitbie.com and OutsideOnline.com.

Here are the stand-out Salazar running form tips:

  1. Lean forward. Salazar argues that runners should aim for a slight forward lean of around 2 to 3 degrees. Greater insight into the Salazar thinking is provided in the quote below by Steve Magness, assistant coach to Salazar at the Nike Oregon Project. It will feel particularly familiar to those interested in the Chi Running approach to running.

…It’s more about correct body position than a lean per se. You want to make sure you aren’t arching your back, and sticking your butt out. I emphasize a very slight forward lean from the ground, not a bending at the waist…

  1. Think about your arm and hand position. As you stride, support the stability of your body by making sure your arms don’t cross. If they do, your body will rock from side to side and you will lose force.

…the typical runner never thinks about his hands, but in fact they’re crucial. Your arms should swing back and forward, not across your body…

  1. Relax your shoulders. Salazar places particular emphasis on relaxing the shoulders, as highlighted in an interview with Men’s Health. The coach argues that your shoulders should be relaxed and sloping down, with your elbows slightly bent.

…If you tighten your shoulders and let them point up instead, your arms start to flail and you lose that circular, forward-flowing drive…

  1. Land lightly. Avoid heel striking, which is usual associated with overstraining. Seek to land lightly, with your foot strike near your midfoot. In the words of Mo Farah himself:

…The heavier you land, the longer your foot stays on the ground, and that slows you down. Land with your front foot slightly in front of your hips, but directly under your knee…

  1. Relaxed running form. Attempt to stay relaxed over your entire body. In the process, you’ll limit the energy you waste through excess tension and you’ll be able to run more efficiently.

…Ever watch one of Salazar’s athletes run? They float effortlessly around the track or down the road, and no, it doesn’t all come naturally. Every day in practice Farah, Rupp, Ritzenhein and others in Salazar’s group work on staying relaxed from head to toe in order to run as efficiently as possible…

  1. Move forward. Focus on forward, rather than vertical, propulsion. As Salazar describes it, every motion your body makes should propel you forward. This is one area where there’s a stark gap between many runners and Salazar’s elite, as highlighted in a Competitor.com article last year. It noted the lack of vertical motion as a key characteristic of elite runners and contrasted this with the ‘bouncy’ stride of many runners.

…If you look at Bekele and you look at Gebrselassie…His hips are directly under his body, which is directly above his foot. So all that force is going up through his legs and hips into his upper body, to propel him forward. There’s nothing being lost there…

For more on the Salazar take on running form – in particular in the context of Farah and Rupp – take a look at the video below:

That was your countdown of the 7 top reasons why Mo Farah stays injury-free. Next, you’ll find an intriguing insight into the mind of Alberto Salazar, with our collection of his most revealing words of wisdom. Click below to take a look.
Mo Farah training secrets: continued image


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