How Form-Coaching Prevents Running Injuries

Jason Fitzgerald
by Jason Fitzgerald
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How Form-Coaching Prevents Running Injuries

One of the best aspects of running is its inherent simplicity. Invest in a quality pair of running shoes and head out the door. Running remains accessible and popular for this reason.

Training to run fast and long, however, can make running slightly more complicated. Injuries are all too common. Staying healthy should be the first priority of every runner, but it can be hard to know how to spend your time and money to run your best and stay injury-free. Investing in individualized coaching can play a pivotal role in running healthy and reaching your goals.

WHY MOST INJURIES HAPPEN

For most runners, injuries happen because they fall prey to one of the “too’s” — trying to run too fast, too much or too soon before they’re ready. New runners may jump into a generic training plan and end up sore, then injured and then quit running altogether. Others may think more is always better and try to cram more mileage or workouts into a week than their bodies can handle.

Runners are most likely to get injured when they are ramping up from time off rather than during sustained, consistent training. While overtraining is a serious issue and can require significant recovery time, the truth is most runners are hurt more by inconsistent training and not incorporating enough easy efforts into their schedule.

Generic online training plans may work on occasion, but for most they are not specific enough to individual needs. They may push you to do more than you’re capable of, or they may be too easy and not stimulate you enough to improve. The expertise provided by a coach or personalized plan can help you address a variety of common problems, including form, and will help you run happier and healthier.

THE IMPORTANCE OF FORM

When you think about running form, you may envision a graceful, elite athlete striding down the road or track looking like an elegant gazelle. Even though there is no one form that is perfect for everyone, the concept of proper running form has gotten a lot of attention recently. Runners rarely need to overhaul their form, but making tweaks to their running and training can be beneficial.

While common elements of running form include posture, foot plant, arm swing and cadence, it’s helpful to think of “form” in a broader context. Cues like “run tall and relaxed” can help you optimize your form on the run, especially as you begin to fatigue, but good form starts with more comprehensive concepts such as structural soundness and using strength and mobility to even out imbalances.

Hip and glute weakness are common in many runners and often lead to imbalances that cause injuries from your hips and back down to your feet. Dynamic mobility workouts and runner-specific strength training can help iron out these imbalances and, in turn, improve your overall running form.

Imbalances can come from inherent strengths and weaknesses in your own body, but they can also come from improperly structured training. Lack of variability in training, workouts and terrain can make you more susceptible to injury. Addressing all aspects of these imbalances is where coaching can be most helpful.

THE BENEFITS OF COACHING

When you think of running form in a broader context, the benefits of individualized coaching are even more evident. A coach can offer a customized training plan that speaks to form and imbalances and can help you address and overcome them. When it comes to staying healthy, a coach can show you how to avoid getting injured from any of the “too’s” mentioned above by ensuring your training progresses at an appropriate pace.

Injuries often happen when your aerobic training progresses faster than your structural soundness, including your bones, joints, muscles and ligaments. When your training is unstructured, it’s tempting to run too fast or too far before your body can handle it. Coaching can help build a proper progression in workouts and create a balance of easy and harder efforts.

Running form is an aspect of training where coaching can help both directly and indirectly. Local coaches will often provide in-person form analysis, while online or remote coaches can use video to help assess your gait. Getting external input on form, as well as feedback and evaluation of workouts, is a unique benefit of having a coach. This can help you progress more quickly and attain goals you didn’t know you were capable of.

Your running form is impacted by a variety of things, including how you physically run and the way your running is structured, all of which benefit from ongoing feedback and expertise.

But every coach is unique, so it’s important to find someone who works best with your personality and goals. If you’re willing to make the commitment, individualized coaching is a worthwhile investment to help you run strong, stay healthy and attain your long-term goals.

About the Author

Jason Fitzgerald
Jason Fitzgerald

Jason is the founder of Strength Running, a USA Track & Field certified running coach and 2017’s Men’s Running’s Influencer of the Year. Learn more about how he can help you run faster.

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