Often the first thing we zero in on when trying to get faster, prevent injury, or recover from one is to correct or improve our form.
Well, ok maybe that’s the second thing after getting new shoes!
Of course, we need to take our overall mileage and the frequency and intensity of our speed work into account when assessing injury risk and potential for progress, but better running mechanics can reduce your susceptibility to injury and improve your running economy.
However, trying to change your running mechanics from verbal cues alone often isn’t enough.
This is because the body is very efficient at adopting the path of least resistance when it comes to your stride, and often the compensation strategies become habitually engrained. As a result, we can’t always safely or effectively implement the well-meaning advice we are told will improve our running mechanics.
For example, if you have limited ankle mobility that your body tries to circumvent, that could obviously result in suboptimal changes to your stride upstream that might not be so easy to change just by running differently because you were told to. In fact, if you try to run differently without addressing the root issue, you will likely cause injury elsewhere.
While the body’s path of least resistance might be relatively more efficient in the short-term, it isn’t necessarily the optimal stride you are capable of achieving.
The good news is that you aren’t doomed to a wonky stride. Studies show that the best outcomes are a result of working on running mechanics AND strength training together.
To maximize your stride potential, focus on improving your body’s current state of strength, power, stability and mobility and your mechanics will largely resolve on their own. Implementing cues will be like fine tuning a well-oiled machine.
You aren’t stuck with your stride. It’s not a matter of genetics, it’s a matter of training and adapting to a better way of moving. Form follows function.
Look for the Run Empowered Strength Coaching program to launch here soon!