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RUN FORM COUNTS: Perfecting your form will make you a more efficient runner. The benefits are less energy used at a certain pace, less potential for injury, and of course you'll look faster too!

Good run posture may seem self-evident, but not everyone gets it right naturally. Posture flaws like head forward, or shoulders forward with arch in upper back are relatively easy to spot, but other form issues can be more subtle. Overstriding 'puts the brakes on' with each stride, adding stress to lower legs. Too much arm action uses oxygen better saved for the legs.

Run posture should be no different than good walking posture. The head should be back over the shoulders; the upper back should be straight leading with chest not shoulders. A head forward over-stresses the neck, and a hunched posture through upper back compresses lungs and vital organs.

Your head should have no motion as you run. Upper body will twist a little to maintain balance, but should not move laterally. Arms should move forward and back with minimal lateral motion across the chest. Arm action should be slight, mostly for balance, elbows bent 90 degrees or tighter. Big arm motions are for sprinters.

Overstriding is when your foot hits the ground too far ahead of your center of gravity; the stride becomes more of a pulling than pushing motion. Coming down hard on your heel is a clue. Runners who spend a lots of time running on a treadmill often have this form flaw. On a treadmill the belt is moving but you're not. The form flaw develops because the runner swings their leg forward with each stride, but isn't driving their body weight forward with hamstrings and gluteus muscles.

An efficient stride has your footstrike just slightly ahead of your body, not way forward. The optimal power phase of your stride is when your leg is under your body, then sweeping back with some lift from the calf. The goal is not to be reaching further ahead with each stride, but rather pushing back with more force. The correct sensation is more 'air time' for each stride, not extending forward to cover more distance. Kids naturally get this right, but many adults have to re-learn it.

When your footstrike is more under your body than ahead the natural tendency is to hit the ground softly with your heel or midfoot. Pure sprinters will come down on the ball of their foot, heel never hitting the ground. This gives great lifting force potential as the calf muscle acts like a pre-loaded spring. For endurnace runners this is impractical though, as the muscle cannot sustain the effort for long.

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