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Best exercises to improve running form

By on May 23, 2014

Running form drills remain flavour of the month. Nate Helming of Competitor.com reports on a recent discussion with movement coach Carl Paoli on the topic. The focus was on the core strength exercises that runners should do to perfect their running form.

Paoli argues that the key principle of core strength is the ability to control the spine while moving. In today’s featured video, the coach pin-points the single core exercise favoured by top gymnasts to building core strength. It’s very simple. But, as he argues, it’s far from easy.

Our spine contains the central nervous system which controls how efficiently and powerfully we can move our arms and legs—something that’s crucial for athletes in every sport. So if we lack core strength, we cannot hope to move our arms or legs very well.

Other running form exercises

Recent articles have highlighted a number of other recommended drills to improve running form:

  • Brian Metzler highlighted 9 running form drills: butt kicks; high knees; bounding; grapevines; slow sipping; lateral bounding; hamstring extensions; straight-leg shuffle; and running backwards. For each exercise, he explains why it matters and how to perform the drill. The drills can be performed before runs (as part of a dynamic warmup routine after an easy jog) or after runs (with the bonus of helping ensure good form when fatigued).
  • Jenny Hadfield argues that it’s easy to think that only complicated strength training exercise plans will improve performance and strength. She argues that a single one-legged exercise (the Single Leg Stance) can work wonders in transforming your running form.
  • An older article by Runner’s World highlights 8 exercises that help tackle running form problems, such as overstriding. The suggested exercises are: feet shuffle; G drill; flat foot marching; glute activators; clams; V sits; scorpions; and neck tuck.

Not so fast, argues Jeff Gaudette of RunnersConnect. The man behind the Proper Running Form Course argues that it’s dangerous to try to tackle an individual aspect of running form in isolation. He recommends a more logical, step-by-step approach to overhauling running form.

Gaudette recalls the example of a runner who started consciously trying to land on her forefoot, after reading about how heel-striking was to be avoided. But she didn’t address other aspects of her running form, such as posture and degree of hip extension.

The result was that she suffered a stress fracture. She was still over striding significantly and had simply transferred the impact force from her heel to her forefoot. That created stress in her metatarsal that her body couldn’t cope with.

Runners shouldn’t be going around willy nilly, reading the latest article about “proper form” and then trying to change one singular aspect. They need a comprehensive, step-by-step plan that addresses how to improve form in a logical fashion.

More reading on running form

Have you come across an interesting article on the issue? If so, why not add to the list of useful running form links below.

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