Run Form for Beginners: Assessing Strength

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You need the right starting line to assess and improve your run form.

As a Physical Therapist for the past 12 years, I’ve found that most runners focus on flashy buzz words like cadence, stride length, lean, and foot strike.

While each piece has a part to play, it returns to one spot: anatomy.

Without strength, flexibility, and balance, runners lack the foundation to make meaningful change that is sustained mile after mile.

Through years of running, imbalances develop in muscle groups that impair a runner’s ability to run efficiently and remain injury-free. Luckily, it’s easier than ever to assess your strength through video analysis.

Unlike my early years of analyzing run form, there’s no need for big cameras and fancy software. Using your phone and the slow-motion feature can be enough to start.

The challenging part? Knowing what to look for — and how to fix the issues you uncover.

To help, I’ll point you in the right direction. The back view is the best starting point for any run analysis. Assessing from behind allows runners to uncover weaknesses or mobility issues that waste energy, slow them down, and increase the risk for injury.

Watch this to learn more:

After recording your back view, drop a line down the center while you’re mid-stride (foot directly under the body). How symmetrical are you while standing on your right vs. left?  

Here’s a list of items to consider:

  1. Is the head positioned neutral?
  2. Are shoulders level?
  3. Is the trunk leaning over the stance leg?
  4. Is one or both arms out wide?
  5. Does your opposite hip drop?
  6. Is your knee caving in or out?
  7. Is your ankle collapsing into the ground?

The list points back to compensations due to lacking strength, mobility, and balance. The next step, pun intended, is to address the compensations.

Doing so, you lay the foundation for improving your stride and can transition to more flashy pieces like foot strike, stride length, and others.

 

Want to improve your run form?

Reserve your RunSmart analysis and have a Physical Therapist analyze your running from head-to-toe.

Recording and uploading are simple from your phone. Our team will give you a complete frame-by-frame analysis and how you can enhance your stride for more speed & fewer injuries.