Running Myths Busted!
How many running articles have you read? Do you constantly hear things like ‘run on your toes’ or ‘run with a forward lean’ but don’t actually know what that means? People come in saying I’ve been told to lean forward, run on my toes, wear minimalist shows and keep my shoulders back – where am I going wrong? It’s not that any of these things are wrong in themselves, it’s usually how they are implemented. Minimalist shoes are a whole topic in themselves and won’t be talked about here, but tread lightly with them, they are not for everyone.
Running on your toes
Do you have to run on your toes? No. The concept of running on your toes is not a new concept but it definitely isn’t the best thing for everyone.
Toe, forefoot or shod running came into vogue with the release of the minimalist running shoes. What is the main message that is being missed? Why do people use the term running on your toes. If you run on your toes more often than not, you strike underneath your body. It doesn’t matter so much as to whether it is a forefoot, midfoot or a rear foot strike, it’s more important where it strikes. The best way to improve your foot strike is through drills looking at lean and pelvic position, running cadence and muscular retraining to encourage changes in your body position rather than just ‘running on your toes’.
Should you lean forward when you’re running? Yes, but where should you lean from?
Now this is the item where I see the most misconception. Most people take this into their own hands and assume that they should be leaning forward from their hips. Right, right? Wrong. Hip lean decreases use of the glutes, increases the use of quads and hip flexors and generally puts more force through the knees. So if not the hips, where should you lean from? The ankle. This skill can be difficult to master, but can greatly change your running. Mastering the forward lean drill (see below) allows this to become a familiar feeling to transfer to your running. So what is the benefit of the forward lean? If you are leaning backwards then gravity is working against you, you tend to overstride, braking as you strike, and put more force through the knees. Leaning forward through your ankles allows gravity to push you forward, you have greater inclination to use your calves and glutes for power and keeping your core and pelvis engaged protecting your joints.
Arm propulsion/chest leading
Do you need to stick out your chest or keep your shoulders back when running? No, it’s not a change that should be specifically focused on.
Although you don’t want to let your shoulders fall forward or hunch you also don’t want to hold your shoulders back and puff up your chest. If you’re leaning forward from your hips when running, you’re going to have to work really hard to keep your upper body upright. But if your legs and pelvis are doing what they are supposed to, what your shoulders are doing is less important. Are you sensing a theme here? The pelvic position is where most things stem from. Most people will hold their shoulders tight and use their arms as a form of propulsion, almost as if they are trying to pull themselves through the air. So what should be happening? Your shoulders and arms should stay relatively relaxed (not up around your ears), keeping your arms moving forwards and backwards with approximately a 90 degree bend at the elbow.
So how can you accomplish these things? Getting some drills into your running program will help with running position and getting those key muscles engaged to help with your efficiency and power.
Forwards Lean Drill
Standing with feet hip width apart, tuck your pelvis and lean forward from your ankles to your balance point. Bring yourself back to the starting position without breaking at the hips. Once you have found your balance point, move your arms forward and backwards without breaking at the hips.
Feet together, hands relaxed by your side. Keeping your knees straight but not locked out, pushing through your ankles and jumping up and down. The aim is to work on the propulsion and shock absorption through your calves. Another way to achieve this is through skipping without bringing your knees into the movement.
Single Leg Drill
Transfer your weight onto your right leg. Tuck your pelvis under (without letting your back and thoracic spine sink or flex), bring your left leg up to 90 degrees of hip flexion, lean forward from the ankle without breaking at the hip. Step the left leg forward, not trying to gain distance but coming up strong onto the left leg to repeat the process.
Do you want more Running Myths busted check out our 6 Week Technique Course on the 9th of May!