Running – Form
So long as you have two feet and enough athletic ability, you can run. Humans have been running for millennia since we first developed the ability to hunt and gather. There has even been recent research that supports the idea that we were meant to run barefoot and a whole slew of newly designed running shoes to go with it. Many people ask about the importance of form while running. Is there a "right" way to run? Will proper form help you become a faster running? A safer runner?
There has been some research on the topic lately, after Ryan Hall became the first American to complete a half marathon in under 60 minutes. Evolutionary Biologist Peter Larson has studied Hall's gait. He notes that unlike many other runners (including some of the best runners in the world), Hall lands on his mid-foot rather than his heel. Because he's not landing on his heel, his body doesn't experience so much shock and rather he seems to glide directly into his next stride. Additionally, when he lands, his shinbones are perpendicular to the ground giving him an optimal and very strong place to push into his next stride. Hall has a high knee lift and a long back kick which gives him the appearance of a long, flowing posture. This also gives him good alignment throughout his hips and back.
But is Hall's running form good form? And does good form even matter? For years runners have been more concerned with conditioning, stretching, practice, nutrition and hydration to increase their running time and keep injuries at bay. Only now are amateur and casual runners starting to think about proper form.
While no scientific studies have been done to fully understand whether "good" form like Ryan Hall's decreases the risk of injury or increases running time or stamina, it is worth considering these points of form if you feel like your running is suffering because of your heel strikes or low knee lifts. Another good resource for you if you are interested in the barefoot running phenomena is Christopher McDougall's 2009 bestseller, Born to Run.