Lower impact running
I love running because I can do it almost anywhere and any time, but after several years of running with poor form, I have mostly switched to lower impact exercises like swimming and biking. I still run once or twice a week, making an effort to use good form. I'm hoping that with good form, good shoes, and good surfaces, I'll be able to run for decades to come!
Poor running form I never ran track and field or had any formal coaching on how to run or jog. Naively, I thought you just did it. So for years my form looked like this. Notice that my rear leg is not fully extended, my front leg is raised up quite high off the ground. My physical therapist explained to me that I was bouncing up and down a lot, which is both inefficient and hard on the knees and ankles.
Good running form He explained that by fully extending my rear leg and keeping my front leg closer to the ground, the impact is a lot lower on my body. I have also mostly switched from toe-striking to heal-striking because I find it forces me to use this better form. If I toe-strike then I have a tendency to bounce up and down too much. That said, my physical therapist claims there is nothing inherently bad about either toe-striking or heel-striking, it's strictly a personal preference.
Physical therapy I highly recommend consulting with a physical therapist if you are dealing with any muscle or joint issues. I like to think of physical therapists as personal trainers with a formal education! They can help with stretching, strengthening, and avoiding bad exercises! Connecticut has a direct access law that lets you see a physical therapist without a referral from a doctor, which reduces the hurdles getting help. For an acute injury, it's probably best to see a doctor first, but I've really benefited from physical therapy for chronic muscle, joint, and tendon issues.
Good running shoes In my previous life, I bought a new pair of sneakers every year and wore them everywhere for everything. By the end of the year they were full of holes, had no tread, and had very little support. I've learned that a quality pair of sneakers is an investment just like physical therapy. I have been wearing Altra running shoes for the past few months, and they provide excellent support. Altra is known for their “foot-shaped” design, which has a wide toe-box to reduce pressure around your toes. I find this reduces the nerve sensitivity I occasionally experience in my left foot.
Posted by Abraham