Running Camp Notes: Common Running Form Problems


Common running form problems

Everyone has their own unique running form. Things that can influence our form range widely from previous injuries, how our body is built, what cues we think about and the strength and flexibility that our muscles possess. There is no perfect running form. Everyone's form is the way it is because our body has found the most natural process with what our body currently possesses to get from point A to point B. We don’t want to try to recreate “the perfect” running form but rather we want to work with what we have and make the most out of the way we move.

Often we need an outside eye to see what’s happening as we run. It’s not uncommon for us to focus on one issues just to realize that issue is a by-product of another. An example of this is that many runners think they have “bad arm carriage” by swinging their arms laterally and they begin addressing strengthening their shoulders and arms. But the reality probably is that the arms swing that way because of a strength issue in their hips that needs correction. Our bodies are great at adapting and doing what’s necessary to stay upright without us even thinking about it.

We want to address these imbalances though because while our body will find work arounds and compensate this will put extra stress on other muscle groups that aren’t designed to receive that kind of strain and when overloaded over course of many miles can lead to injuries.

We wanted to boil down what we saw with a big group to the common issues that many were dealing with. So a few common running form issues that we saw in our gait analysis during our work with the High Country Summer Camp include these:

  1. Hip dropping during foot contact

  2. Ground contact time

  3. Tight shoulders/windmill of arms

  4. Lack of power in stride

Coach Caleb taking the Camp through some drills pre-run

Coach Caleb taking the Camp through some drills pre-run

Luckily all of these issues are correctable through a consistent strength training program and mindfulness while completing these tasks and running.

In one way or another all these issues arise from a lack of hip strength and mobility. Our glutes & hamstrings are what provide us all our power while running but we have slowly over time turned these muscle groups off through sitting at a desk at work or at school this constant message of sitting has allowed them to get weaker and stiffen.

We want to re-active these muscles and create more strength within them so our body can more easily rely upon them. We wanted to give a few exercises that we would recommend that can clean up our stride for each of these running form problems. All of these can be done at home in less than 15 minutes with just a few tools to add difficulty.

  1. Hip dropping during foot contact

    1. Clamshells

    2. Hip Hikes

    3. Fire Hydrants

  2. Ground contact time is very high

    1. Jump Rope

    2. “Fast Feet”

    3. Downhill strides

  3. Tight shoulders/windmill of arms

    1. Practice bringing the hand down past the hip bone while running

    2. Typically this is caused by weak hips

  4. Lack of power in stride

    1. Uphill strides

    2. Bounding

We took our Campers through these exercises and talked about some pointers and what they could gain by practicing each of these movements. For anyone that would like us to talk more about how to do these exercises or how to put them into your training routine please reach out and let us know. These are just a few exercises that can help correct your running form and by no means covers all the bases of what happens while running. But practicing these few movements will make you a stronger, faster, and most importantly healthier runner.