In the battle against injury, a runner’s best armor is a strong body. Strong muscles, ligaments, and tendons guard against impact, improve form, and lead to a consistent gait. If muscles are weak, one footfall will not be like the rest. How your knee turns in, your hip drops, your foot pronates changes with each step. But with strength, these movements are the same each time, so your mind and body know what to expect.
Can a shoe help prevent injury?
Yes, shoes can reduce injury risk because they can alter your form and how the repetitive forces of running are applied to your body. For example, research shows that the firmness of shoe cushioning can influence the stiffness of your legs (i.e., amount of bend at the ankle, knee, and hip), which affects how forces impact your muscles, bones, and joints. If you’re in a shoe that applies forces in a way that your body can manage and is a good match for your training (road or trail, for instance), the shoe can help reduce injury risk.
What It Means: When the foot lands well ahead of the knee
Why It Matters: Overstriding increases forces on the body, putting excess wear and tear on muscles, joints, and tissue.
Try This: Focus on where your foot is landing in relation to your body, and land as close to your body as possible. Your lower leg should be vertical when your foot first contacts the ground.
Lead with Your Hips
What It Means: Initiating the running motion from the center of your body
Why It Matters: Running from your hips and driving forward with your knees rather than your feet helps you maintain a tall posture and avoid overstriding.
Try This: Engage your core muscles and imagine stepping over logs while you run.
What It Means: Consciously landing more softly
Why It Matters: “When we try to run quietly, we make natural adjustments like shortening our stride and landing on our midfoot, which lessens impact forcesTry This: Run in place, letting your knees rise naturally for 10 seconds. Then lean forward and run for 50 yards holding that posture. Repeat three times before you run.
Swing Arms Efficiently
What It Means: Arms moving forward and back
Why It Matters: Arm swing affects trunk stability. An across-the-body arm swing tends to rotate the shoulders, or cause the trunk to sway, compromising core stability.
Try This: Bend your elbows about 90 degrees and let your arms swing relaxed. Keep your elbows close to your body with your hands loose, which helps the entire body relax.
Run with Good Posture
What It Means: Upper torso straight, lower back not arched, head directly over shoulders
Why It Matters: Poor posture can put excess stress on back and knees. If your back arches, your body weight tends to shift back, making you more prone to overstriding.
Try This: Strengthen your core and upper body. Practice good posture during the day. Bad postural habits carry over to your run.