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Do You Need To Change Your Running Form?

March 23, 2020

Today’s blog is written by Ray Pugsley.
Ray Pugsley is the owner of Potomac River Running Store, with 8 locations in the greater Washington D.C. area. He raced collegiately at Dartmouth College under coach Vin Lananna and was a member of the Reebok Enclave in the ‘90s. He was the US Junior National Cross Country Champion in 1988, and finished second in the US Masters Cross Country race in 2009 and 2013. A 5000M specialist with a PR of 13:42, Ray finished sixth in the finals of the Men’s 5000M at the Olympic Trials in 1996. Ray fully recovered from Spinal Fusion surgery in 2003 and currently sits on the board of the Spinal Research Foundation.

I would wager that many of you were never taught that there are specific running forms. Your form, however, does impact the propensity for injury and may need to be altered if you find you are nursing aches and pains after a run/walk. Understanding your foot strike does not necessarily mean you need to change it, though. In recent years, the barefoot running trend had many people attempting to completely modify their biomechanics, often resulting in significant injury. Some medical professionals believe you should simply support your food as it currently functions. Others argue for some “correction”, particularly if the runner or walker is chronically or currently injured. Biomechanics do extend beyond the foot-strike. Making changes to running or walking form can improve efficiency {allow you to go faster at the same level of effort} and minimize the risk of injury. Such changes may be as simple as relaxing the shoulders or increasing cadence {how many steps you take in a particular period of time}. Other changes may include limiting “over-striding” or extending the leg out in front of the body such that the foot hits the ground first at the back of the heel with the leg extended.


A healthy body can sometimes handle that repetitive stress, but over-striding can be problematic for anyone with a history of aches and pains {in the back or elsewhere}. Taking steps to improve form and reduce any propensity to over-stride will increase efficiency and mitigate the risk of injury. All changes should be made gradually, however.

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