Friday, August 28, 2015

Symmetrical Stride

Running form is a much debated topic. Studies suggest that runners select the most economical stride for them as they train. Studies also suggest that increasing stride rate or shortening stride length can reduce the likelihood of injury and alleviate knee pain.

So what's right for you? Work on improving your stride, or sticking with the one you were blessed with?

As the great Dr. George Sheehan was fond of saying, "We are each an experiment of one."

This is what I've noticed in my running, especially as I get older: years of right handedness, running on the left side of cambered roads, and running around tracks counterclockwise for most of high school and college have left me with an asymmetrical stride.

I'm injury prone. Besides dealing with the typical training error of too much, too fast, too soon, my muscle imbalance has led to other injuries. Tendinitis in the knees, groin, and Achilles line up almost perfectly with an imbalanced stride.

So, what to do about it? My physical therapist gave me several drills. In a previous post, I mentioned increasing stride rate. The other drill he gave me was imagining a line between my legs and keeping that line in between my feet as I ran.

The most important thing, however, is keeping a strength routine as part of regular training. Focusing on muscle balance, especially in the hips, glutes, and core, will help improve stride symmetry and lead to fewer injuries.

Run well.

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