Have you ever tried changing your running form, or being intentional about the mechanics of your running — the way you move your arms, the way you angle your torso, the way your feet strike the ground? Were you able to make lasting changes, and if so, did it help you stave off injury?
I’d love to hear what your experience is, as I’ve always been a natural runner — I simply put on my shoes and don’t think about the way my body moves. But I’ve wondered, especially as I’m now 51 and starting to experience more little aches and pains, if I need to start paying attention/making adjustments to the way I run.
What’s your experience been? Have you been hurt, and made changes to adapt? Did it help? Love to hear your thoughts 😃 — Terrell
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i was doing PT a few months ago and the guy told me to take shorter and faster steps to prevent bouncing which would be less stress on my achilles. i tried it for a while but didn't notice any changes. i'm sure i'm back to doing it the way i was. i just don't see how a shorter stride was helping me.
I hurt my knees at the end of 2021 to the point I needed shots in both. I was told the only thing I could do was walk or do the bike with out any resistance. I run slowly with compression sleeves on both knees... believe it or not, it helps. Since starting back, I find myself shortening my stride and just letting my body put one foot in front of the other. I'm letting my body dictate how I run and for the first time in forever, I find myself more fresh and relaxed even after 5 miles. I think taking away the stress of "Having" to run so many mile on this day or that has helped. It took an injury to put me back on the path of enjoying running for runnings sake again...
I just finish reading Nicholas Romanov book related to natural running, denominated as “pose method of running”. The main idea is to use feet’s full mechanic potential in order to run faster with less injuries. Not enough time to evaluate by myself but I liked very much what I’ve read. Hope to have more in some weeks on.
When I first started running longer distances (8 miles and up), I would notice that the body parts that hurt the most were my shoulders and neck. They would start to hurt during the run and would ache for days after. For this reason, I pay very close attention to keeping my shoulders relaxed and my posture straight. This has made all the difference. The other thing I do is to take shorter, quicker steps on the uphills. I also zigzag up and at times down hills like switchbacks.
I did try paying close attention to my foot strike and how I hold my hands, but it felt so weird, that I just stopped.
I haven't had any serious injury. I did develop plantar fasciitis, but that resolved by switching one running day for Elliptigoing.
At 57 and 43 years of running, I also have just been a 'natural' runner. I simply listen to my body and try to respond. My advice to new (and old) runners is: Listen to your body!! It will always tell you what it needs.
Yes!! And I am running more miles than ever with no aches or pains. I was a hot, achy injured mess from running in my 20s. Three decades later long runs barely register, physically, as a thing I did earlier in the day. I get more pains from driving 3 hours than I do running 3 hours! You may like a book I just got - Running Rewired by Jay Dicharry. Echoes many of the lessons I’ve learned from my physical therapist and has lots of exercises and drills to address biomechanics and form.
I have flat feet so I wear neutral sneakers … Brooks Dyads for years but now Glycerins … after finishing my 100th half in December on my 72nd birthday, I saw on ortho guy who had me put arch inserts in my sneakers to help take the tension off the tendons on the outside of my left foot. I’m aware I prone out and I will be making more of an effort to correct that.
I read "Chi Running" several years ago and adopted many of the suggestions, eg., how to hold your arms, relax your limbs, tilt forward, and others. I feel more intentional about the run when I focus on these things.
I’m also 51, never thought much about how I run, and recently started to feel pain in my hip from running. I just signed up for a 4-week core strengthening class hoping this might help. If it doesn’t, I may go see a running PT for gait analysis or whatever they recommend. Running has become so important to me, I want to do all I can to keep going.
I started paying attention to my form when I kept pulling my hamstring. I realized I was not keeping my hips parallel or following through with my left leg and ankle. This went back to spraining my left ankle years ago! I am still working on it I may be a little slower but I feel better and less fatigued after I run with no pulls or pains. I feel form is extremely important in running biking weight training lifting . . I am 53 and still want to be able to do Spartans for a long time!
Take it from a 74 year old who began running 50 years ago it is never too early to get your running mechanics right. I did not and am paying for it now with hip issues. I hired a person who specializes in “gait” and after a few months I can now walk and run without pain and may be able to avoid hip surgery. As we all know, everything is attached to everything else and I had been blessed with running without pain for half a century. But little misalignments over 50 years caught up to me and probably you as well.
Btw, A Healthy and Happy New Year to All.
The aches and pains incrementally increase with each passing year it feels! Wait till your 60's!
The only time i have thought about the way i run is when i started breathing through my nose (thanks to this group). It made a dramatic improvement quickly. I look forward to finding other suggestions. Thanks as always for the topic Terrell.
When I started running, about a decade ago, I was running to music and felt like I was never really improving as a running, no matter how many miles I ran a week. At some point, my phone was dead, or I couldn't find headphones - SOMETHING that got me to a run without headphones / music. That was a game changer for me. I all of a sudden could hear the pace of my feet, was able to determine when I was flat footed, heavy footed, too fast, too slow. I was suddenly very aware of my posture, hip position, foot position. My running changed dramatically from there and I haven't ran to music since.
My husband and I now do a lot of running together and call out small form corrections to help each other [in an encouraging way, no run shaming]. We try to run to the method of, "pretend there is a string being pulled from the top of your head, gently pulling you up". We listen to each others paces and do cool down yoga and stretches. That seems to work for us, we're in our 40s, run 25 miles a week, and still have functioning knees.
As a Chi Runner/Walker I would not be running if it were not for paying attention to form and technique. I tried running years ago with what is called "natural running." In my opinion, it does not work, for me., anymore than natural swimming. :)
Form and technique are the beginning stages. . . Speed is the last thing to come and it is a result of the first two. Eventually one learns to relax the body. . . the key to running. . .keep the form with the technique running in the background and that is where the joy and freedom come in.
Not to be on a soapbox. I've had very few injuries outside of my own stupidities, like tripping on rocks or over training or not watching my form or posture. Knock on wood. It is a lifetime study that one never masters but only progresses. :)
I’ve been running half marathons for 35 years and haven’t paid much attention to mechanics. I just follow where my body takes me. But, there are two concepts that I have found essential. The first is to have an adaptive strategy. Recon the course before the run and have a serious plan about how you’re going to handle hills, surface changes, etc. This will help you apply energy smarter. My early years of steady pace for the duration are well over. I’ve adopted a modified “Galloway” approach - roughly steady pace on the flats, fast walk or short, rapid steps on the uphills, and full throttle on the downhills. The second concept is mental prep and execution. I discipline myself to consciously follow the strategy as long as it’s working but adapt when it isn’t and have an always moving forward mindset. I don’t put any energy into thinking about things like heel strikes or arm swings. As long as my feet are touching the ground and pushing me forward. I’m good.
I definitely spend more time warming up, cooling down and stretching for my run training. I've found that by making these three things just as important as the mileage I run, I've recovered better for the next run, and experience far less stiffness during the day.
Great topic - I don't know the "how" to run so hoping to get some pointers...
Hi! I'm a later-in-life runner... I started when I was in my late 50's. I joined a local training group and they were invaluable in working on my form. When I first began, I immediately had to go to PT for IT band syndrome. Between the PT and my group, I learned all about the mechanics that would help me to not experience this again or many other normal running maladies. Things like, stay on top of my feet (feet right under me), shorter strides (helped my steps per minute so much), lean forward (like if you lean forward with your whole body and then must take a step) to let gravity propel me forward, and one of my favorites - picture your thumb gently holding a chip with the thumb joint pointing to the sky and the arm swing forward and back - not crossing the body. These all have become natural and have helped me so much. Happy running to all!
Hi all! Yes, chi running concepts and advice from PTs have kept me largely injury-free so far. I also check myself whenever I watch my running buddy, a lab mix: with his quick, relaxed, short steps, he can run forever and loves it. He's my athletic inspiration!
I'm 63 and I've had hip, ankle & toe pains from time to time. My little trick: whenever I pay close attention to my posture, I feel a bunch of benefits... The stress on my hips is reduced and therefore I reduce or eliminate hip pain. My stride is instantly more effective, so I feel more comfortable, with less stress on my toes and ankles as my feet glide forward & backward in shorter & quicker steps (less up & down).
I'm 59 years old, and pretty quick for an old guy. My run all day pace is 8:00 miles, and I typically land in the top 5-10 finishers in my age group. As I've gotten older, I've modified my stride to shorter and faster steps. I'm also focused on keeping my hands lower than my elbows, and trying to keep my hands pointed forward as I stride. The other thing I do is try to not bounce in my stride. I work on smoothly moving my feet forward. This transfers energy forward instead of upward. A great way to train for the smooth run is to read a book on a treadmill while running. It forces you to minimize the up and down of a poor stride.
I have noticed that as I have gotten older, i need to be more aware of the changes that occur as I fatigue on a run. Like Caroline, I tend to catch myself “wearing my shoulders as earrings”! I also tend to tilt my head to the left when I tire as well. Not sure where that came from but it’s annoying. I also notice that I run with a shorter stride on my treadmill vs. out on the roads. I like to try and match my cadence to the beat of music as well, sometimes it works and sometimes not. The one thing I do know is that I don’t like wrapping my brain around the axle too much-I consider every time I run a blessing and love to just go with the flow.
I fell into good cadence somewhat accidentally on purpose. 😄
When I started running (already in my 40’s), I didn’t know much but I wanted to train for a half marathon so I read a LOT. [Sidebar: Your website was a huge resource, truly. Thank you.]
One of the things I learned was that ideal cadence is around 180 spm. Cool, how do I get that? I came across Podrunner, which uses curated music tailored to various, specific bpm. These EDM-whatever songs (I call it rave music because I’m old and have no clue) sound objectively insane if you listen on your couch but out on the road or trail I’d find my feet naturally syncing up and I’d just get lost in it. For hours! I don’t use it anymore because I’m usually chatting with friends but the 175-180 spm cadence remains without any effort. It has definitely been a good tool in the battle against injury. I was lucky to find it when I was so brand new but I recommend it to anyone looking to improve cadence.
Absolutely yes. I tend to have an anterior pelvic tilt, which means that my pelvis tends to dip down when I am running, which strains the lower back. I constantly have to be aware when I'm running at higher mileage to "tuck" that pelvis upward, to be sure I am firing from the glutes.
My other issue throughout the past has been overstriding which has led to achilles issues and a soleus strain in the past. To correct this I've made many efforts to increase my cadence.
I also find that, particularly when I'm tired or get caught in thinking about where I need to be next, my shoulders end up around my ears and I constantly have to be mindful about shaking them out and staying loose!
Yes I went in to a physical therapist due to a slipped disc. Towards the end of the therapy, she had me run on a treadmill and watched me. She gave me some tips…my cadence was off. I was overstepping (can’t remember what that’s called) so I worked on checking my cadence every 10 miles.
I tend to hump, so when I notice, I remind myself to straight up. That's the reason I like to run in the city - I always pay attention how I look and straighten up when passing other people.
The other technique change is different pace for longer time. For example if my "cruise" pace is ~5 min/km and I'm running with someone at 6 min/km it helps to work out on completely different muscles (it feels next day after workout, that different muscles were activated).
For the first several years I was running I wasn't doing it for any reason other than to stay off the couch, and I wasn't running more than a few miles. But about six or seven years ago when I started running longer distances I started paying more attention to form. Specifically to cadence. I know there is no real consensus about cadence, but the prevailing opinion seems to be about 180+, so I've increased my cadence by about 10, and after a few months of deliberate effort it now seems natural and I don't think about it. As for the rest of my form I do have to remind myself to keep my shoulders back and chest up, especially when I am tired. And I find that after several miles my form gets sloppy and I remind myself to keep good form... in terms of my stride and feet hitting the ground, not dragging. I've been lucky and only been semi-injured once. It was my IT band and that only kept me out a few weeks. I'm now struggling with tight hamstrings in my right leg. I am still running but trying to do more stretching at night every day. Also, I recently changed from a zero drop shoe with a wide toe box and minimal padding (Altra Escalante) to a regular drop shoe with a lot of padding (Hoka Carbon X and Hoka Clifton 8) and immediately had back aches for a couple of days. And blisters. Those really don't qualify as injuries, but I'm now swapping shoes back to zero drops on alternate runs.
I've been a runner since my high school days, at 60 I feel the aches and pain on my knees, feet and hips, I run the dirt road alot, only time I run the road is when I participate in a 5k or 8k in my community, that's when the pain goes away temporarily. Since I've been training for the half marathon I have been doing 10 miles every weekend it strains my legs, knees n feet, so after my run this weekend in Phoenix I'm going to slow down on my runs and take it easy. Good luck to all the runners also.