LifeBridge Health Will Keep You Running the Right Way

We've been running for hundreds of thousands of years: We've fled prehistoric predators and we've led our canine companions through winding trails; we've crossed the finish line for a good cause and we've joined morning run meet-ups (for more than the doughnut breakfast afterward). You'd think we'd be old hat (or old athletic shoe) at it. However, many of us lack proper running form.

Billy Wunderlich knows the telltale signs of improper running form better than anyone. As a personal trainer at LifeBridge Health & Fitness and a speed coach at the gym's Parisi Speed School, he gets everyone from amateur athletes to polished professionals running right. He says that it's all in the heels: “Landing on their heels is the most common mistake runners can make.”

"Heel" has also become a catchall term for moustache-twirling Snidely Whiplashes or professional wrestling's most venerated baddies, and it's easy to see why: If we step incorrectly on our heels, the painful effects rocket up the body and can contribute to injuries. However, our heels aren't mean, they're just misunderstood. They weren't meant to trod on the hard surfaces most runners pound upon day after day.running shoe

“The human body wasn’t meant to run on man-made surfaces,” explains Wunderlich. “If I were to take you out on the pavement without your shoes and I told you to run from point A to point B, I guarantee you wouldn’t land on your heel for long. It hurts.”

Proper form, he says, is a “controlled falling. You want to lean forward as you run. A neutral spine is very important. Instead of landing on the heels of your feet, you want to land on the forefoot. Keep your feet nice and light.”

Mary Campbell, a physical therapist at Sinai Hospital, adds that poor running form is also rooted in weaknesses within the body. “A common problem is that people are not strengthening their hips properly,” she explains. “If someone has weak hips, this can cause them to collapse in as they run. This can often lead to knee pain.”

Though many of us wish we could jump from the couch to a 5k with the simplicity of a finger-snap, that simply isn't possible. In fact, you may want to complement your running routine with muscle-building and toning workouts. Novice runners who push themselves too far, too fast are subject to muscle fatigue. “The farther you go, the more tired your muscles are going to become,” Campbell says. “You need to increase your mileage gradually to help keep proper form. I’d advise for a runner to focus on exercises that strengthen the core. If you have a strong core, you won’t fatigue as much.”

Helping people with their running form is a passion of Campbell’s. She conducts a quarterly running screen clinic at the hospital that is free and open to the community. Here’s how it works:

Each participant runs on a treadmill for a few minutes while Campbell videotapes him or her from different angles. Afterward, she shares the video with the participant and discusses his or her running technique. Based on Campbell's observations, she offers advice on proper running form and what kind of footwear would work best for that particular person.

Wunderlich does the same for his clients at the Parisi Speed School (minus the video camera).

“I observe how they walk and their body movement,” he says. “From this, we get a rundown of what is going on with them and how we can help them develop proper running form.”

He trains his clients by having them run at an incline on a treadmill; this controlled uphill motion pushes the body forward, reducing the inclination for the runner to land on his or her heels.

Though we may groan at the idea of tackling a formidable hill, Wunderlich insists that it's a great way to develop a proper running form. If you're a city dweller without easy access to the sloping countryside, you should use a treadmill with a steep incline.

There are a few easy ways to ensure that you're running to your best potential. The first may seem head-slappingly simple, but it's incredibly important: Make sure you have good shoes that fit your feet.

If you want to heighten your running form, just remember what your mother always told you: work on your posture. You don't have to worry about balancing a book on your head. Keep your chest up, your shoulders relaxed and your head in a neutral position. Above all else, push forward through your hips. “The more you push from your hips, the faster you’ll go,” Wunderlich says.

Wunderlich reminds us that all terrains aren't created equal, and we need to adjust our runs accordingly. "You have to adjust gait and angle your knee flexes depending on what kind of surface you are running on,” he notes. “For instance, on a trail, you'll be jumping over logs, so your pace will be slower and you’ll want to be more cautious. Other times you might be sprinting. In this case, you’ll want to lower yourself as close to the ground as you can and let your feet catch up with you.”

Whether you're running through a vibrant cityscape or up a verdant hill, sweating on a treadmill or evading a saber-toothed tiger (hey, if Doc Brown could turn an old DeLorean into a time machine, who knows what your wacky neighbor can do with the Buick LaSabre in his garage), running properly will make sure that you're running for a long time.

To schedule an appointment with one of our highly trained physicians and find out why LifeBridge Health is Baltimore's premier health care organization, call 410-601-WELL.

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  • As a sponsor of #Baltimore's 2017 Light City festival, #LifeBridgeHealth was thrilled to join city leaders, including Mayor Catherine Pugh, for today's announcement about the bigger, bright and bolder festival coming this spring. It was excited to hear about the amazing art, music and cultural events that are planned. #LightCity2017

    lifebridgehealth: "As a sponsor of #Baltimore's 2017 Light City festival, #LifeBridgeHealth was thrilled to join city leaders, including Mayor Catherine Pugh, for today's announcement about the bigger, bright and bolder festival coming this spring. It was excited to hear about the amazing art, music and cultural events that are planned. #LightCity2017"
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  • Congratulations to our January #LifeBridgeHealth SuperStar #employees! These employees have been nominated by their coworkers for going above and beyond, every day. We appreciate all that you do! Thank you. #TeamLifeBridge From top left to bottom right: Jill Horn of #CarrollHospital; Catherine Oyedeji-Ojo of #SinaiHospital; Sylvester Campbell of #Levindale; and Donna Miller of #NorthwestHospital

    lifebridgehealth: "Congratulations to our January #LifeBridgeHealth SuperStar #employees! These employees have been nominated by their coworkers for going above and beyond, every day. We appreciate all that you do! Thank you. #TeamLifeBridge 
From top left to bottom right: Jill Horn of #CarrollHospital; Catherine Oyedeji-Ojo of #SinaiHospital; Sylvester Campbell of #Levindale; and Donna Miller of #NorthwestHospital"
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  • #Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot (second from left) stopped by #SinaiHospital today for a tour. He is seen here with Dr. Jonathan Ringo (Sinai Hospital interim chief operating officer), Neil Meltzer (LifeBridge Health president and CEO), Martha Nathanson (LifeBridge Health vice president of government and community development), George Mitchell (Neighborhoods United president) and Dr. Scott Brown (chief of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Sinai). #LifeBridgeHealth

    lifebridgehealth: "#Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot (second from left) stopped by #SinaiHospital today for a tour. He is seen here with Dr. Jonathan Ringo (Sinai Hospital interim chief operating officer), Neil Meltzer (LifeBridge Health president and CEO), Martha Nathanson (LifeBridge Health vice president of government and community development), George Mitchell (Neighborhoods United president) and Dr. Scott Brown (chief of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Sinai). #LifeBridgeHealth"
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  • This week in our #TeamLifeBridge spotlight, meet our Health Information Management Coders. This hardworking group of professionals is responsible for assigning codes that describe a patient’s care and diagnoses. These codes are then stored and used to support billing, quality reporting, and reimbursement programs. #LifeBridgeHealth #EmployeeAppreciation #Healthcare #Employees

    lifebridgehealth: "This week in our #TeamLifeBridge spotlight, meet our Health Information Management Coders. This hardworking group of professionals is responsible for assigning codes that describe a patient’s care and diagnoses. These codes are then stored and used to support billing, quality reporting, and reimbursement programs. #LifeBridgeHealth #EmployeeAppreciation #Healthcare #Employees"
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  • Why was #WBALTV 11 talking to members of a local #motorcycle club at #NorthwestHospital? On January 11, tune into the 5:00 pm news and learn how this club is helping women with #breastcancer. This story is part of #BuddyCheck11, our partnership with WBAL that encourages you to check in with a buddy on the 11th of each month to remind each other to perform a breast #selfexam. #LifeBridgeHealth #Prevention #Cancer

    lifebridgehealth: "Why was #WBALTV 11 talking to members of a local #motorcycle club at #NorthwestHospital? On January 11, tune into the 5:00 pm news and learn how this club is helping women with #breastcancer. 
This story is part of #BuddyCheck11, our partnership with WBAL that encourages you to check in with a buddy on the 11th of each month to remind each other to perform a breast #selfexam.
#LifeBridgeHealth #Prevention #Cancer"
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  • Shoveling #snow is a moderate-intensity #exercise that often results in injury when done incorrectly. To avoid injury this season it’s important to take the extra time to be prepared, and use proper form and equipment – your legs, back and heart will thank you! #Winter #InjuryPrevention #WednesdayWisdom

    lifebridgehealth: "Shoveling #snow is a moderate-intensity #exercise that often results in injury when done incorrectly. To avoid injury this season it’s important to take the extra time to be prepared, and use proper form and equipment – your legs, back and heart will thank you! #Winter #InjuryPrevention #WednesdayWisdom"
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  • #LifeBridgeHealth wishes everyone a healthy and joyous 2017! #NewYear

    lifebridgehealth: "#LifeBridgeHealth wishes everyone a healthy and joyous 2017! #NewYear"
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  • Let’s meet this week’s representatives of #TeamLifeBridge: our Telecom Department! With 15 operators and two team leads, the #LifeBridgeHealth Telecom Department is available 24/7 to provide a wealth of information to our customers. We appreciate all that you do and the 24/7 commitment you make to our organization. #LifeBridgeHealth #EmployeeAppreciation #EmployeeOfTheWeek #HealthCare #CustomerService #Spotlight #Appreciate #WorkHard

    lifebridgehealth: "Let’s meet this week’s representatives of #TeamLifeBridge: our Telecom Department! With 15 operators and two team leads, the #LifeBridgeHealth Telecom Department is available 24/7 to provide a wealth of information to our customers. We appreciate all that you do and the 24/7 commitment you make to our organization. #LifeBridgeHealth #EmployeeAppreciation #EmployeeOfTheWeek #HealthCare #CustomerService #Spotlight #Appreciate #WorkHard"
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  • #LifeBridgeHealth teams are showing their caring this season! In the spirit of the #holidays, the entire Therapeutic Recreation Department of #Levindale decided to cancel their annual #giftexchange and instead bought #gifts for a local family in need! They say they hope their contributions bring some #holiday cheer to their adopted family! (not pictured: Amanda Bojan, Shellia Lavezzary) . . . #GiveBack #HolidaySpirit #CommunityOutreach

    lifebridgehealth: "#LifeBridgeHealth teams are showing their caring this season! In the spirit of the #holidays, the entire Therapeutic Recreation Department of #Levindale decided to cancel their annual #giftexchange and instead bought #gifts for a local family in need! They say they hope their contributions bring some #holiday cheer to their adopted family! (not pictured: Amanda Bojan, Shellia Lavezzary)
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#GiveBack #HolidaySpirit #CommunityOutreach"
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  • Our #LifeBridgeHealth employees and patients had a great time getting into the holiday spirit at our annual facility #holiday parties. On behalf of our team, we'd like to wish everyone a very safe, happy, and healthy holiday season. . . . #SinaiHospital #NorthwestHospital #Levindale #Celebrate #HolidayParty #EmployeeParty #OfficeParty #Healthcare #Maryland #2016

    lifebridgehealth: "Our #LifeBridgeHealth employees and patients had a great time getting into the holiday spirit at our annual facility #holiday parties. On behalf of our team, we'd like to wish everyone a very safe, happy, and healthy holiday season.
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#SinaiHospital #NorthwestHospital #Levindale #Celebrate #HolidayParty #EmployeeParty #OfficeParty #Healthcare #Maryland #2016"
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