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.

Print this entry

No Comments Yet.

Leave a comment

*

Facebook

Twitter

YouTube

LinkedId

Instagram

Follow Me on Instagram
  • Lights, camera, action! Check out these behind-the-scenes pictures from our TV commercial shoot with Cal Ripken and Dr. Kevin Crutchfield and Craig Bennett from the #LifeBridgeHealth Sports Medicine Institute. We'll show you the commercial next week.

    lifebridgehealth: "Lights, camera, action! Check out these behind-the-scenes pictures from our TV commercial shoot with Cal Ripken and Dr. Kevin Crutchfield and Craig Bennett from the #LifeBridgeHealth Sports Medicine Institute. We'll show you the commercial next week."
    18
    0
  • As part of national #EMSweek (May 20-26), #LifeBridgeHealth is proud to recognize and thank our many wonderful partners who work in Emergency Medical Services. We held celebration events across our system, including breakfasts at #SinaiHospital and #NorthwestHospital.

    lifebridgehealth: "As part of national #EMSweek (May 20-26), #LifeBridgeHealth is proud to recognize and thank our many wonderful partners who work in Emergency Medical Services. We held celebration events across our system, including breakfasts at #SinaiHospital and #NorthwestHospital."
    35
    0
  • The pictures are in from #SinaiHospital's annual employee picnic where hospital managers take a turn serving the food, handing out plates and greeting guests. The annual event is a way to say "thank you" to our employees for the amazing work that they do! They are the reason #LifeBridgeHealth is a great place to work! #Work #employees

    lifebridgehealth: "The pictures are in from #SinaiHospital's annual employee picnic where hospital managers take a turn serving the food, handing out plates and greeting guests. The annual event is a way to say "thank you" to our employees for the amazing work that they do! They are the reason #LifeBridgeHealth is a great place to work!  #Work #employees"
    22
    0
  • Big congratulations to this month’s #LifeBridgeHealth Superstars - #SinaiHospital's Denise Rouse-Meekins, #NorthwestHospital's Cindy Slocum, #Levindale’s Colleen Russo, and @carroll_hospital’s Hospital's Lisa Henson. #congrats

    lifebridgehealth: "Big congratulations to this month’s #LifeBridgeHealth Superstars - #SinaiHospital's Denise Rouse-Meekins, #NorthwestHospital's Cindy Slocum, #Levindale’s Colleen Russo, and @carroll_hospital’s Hospital's Lisa Henson. #congrats"
    8
    0
  • Some teams at #SinaiHospital swapped scrubs for uniforms as the "O.R. Blades" took on the "Radiology Renegades" in a recent charity basketball game. The Renegades defended their title and toppled the Blades 75-45. The game raised $1,300 to benefit the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at the Herman & Walter Samuelson Children's Hospital at Sinai. Thanks to everyone who played, served as referees and came out to support the teams for this great cause! #Community #Team

    lifebridgehealth: "Some teams at #SinaiHospital swapped scrubs for uniforms as the "O.R. Blades" took on the "Radiology Renegades" in a recent charity basketball game. The Renegades defended their title and toppled the Blades 75-45. The game raised $1,300 to benefit the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at the Herman & Walter Samuelson Children's Hospital at Sinai. Thanks to everyone who played, served as referees and came out to support the teams for this great cause! #Community #Team"
    25
    1
  • We just got some pictures from Nurses Week! Take a look at just a few of the #NursesWeek events as we celebrated and thanked our amazing #LifeBridgeHealth nurses! #nurse #nursesweek2018

    lifebridgehealth: "We just got some pictures from Nurses Week! Take a look at just a few of the #NursesWeek events as we celebrated and thanked our amazing #LifeBridgeHealth nurses! #nurse #nursesweek2018"
    23
    0
  • #LifeBridgeHealth goes green! Thanks to everyone who came out for our recent Earth Day events. More than 2,100 pounds of paper was collected at both the Sinai/Levindale and #NorthwestHospital sites. The next LifeBridge Health Shred-It Day is in November. #earthday #earthday2018

    lifebridgehealth: "#LifeBridgeHealth goes green! Thanks to everyone who came out for our recent Earth Day events. More than 2,100 pounds of paper was collected at both the Sinai/Levindale and #NorthwestHospital sites. The next LifeBridge Health Shred-It Day is in November. #earthday #earthday2018"
    12
    0
  • Dogs may be man’s best friend, but thanks to the incredible generosity of the Adam Michael Kodeck Fund, a dog named Buddy and his handler Gigi will become best friends with families at the Herman & Walter Samuelson Children’s Hospital at Sinai. Buddy is the first dog in the pediatric pet therapy program. The fund was established in Adam Kodeck’s memory to help children and their families going through difficult illnesses. #doglovers #dog #mansbestfriend

    lifebridgehealth: "Dogs may be man’s best friend, but thanks to the incredible generosity of the Adam Michael Kodeck Fund, a dog named Buddy and his handler Gigi will become best friends with families at the Herman & Walter Samuelson Children’s Hospital at Sinai. Buddy is the first dog in the pediatric pet therapy program.  The fund was established in Adam Kodeck’s memory to help children and their families going through difficult illnesses. #doglovers #dog #mansbestfriend"
    15
    0
  • Members of the #LifeBridgeHealth Leadership Academy recently installed more than 35 smoke detectors in homes as part of the American Red Cross “Sound the Alarm” initiative, a campaign to end house fires. The teams also tested smoke detectors and provided fire safety education, including evacuation plans, to families along the Liberty Road/Northern Parkway corridor. #EndHomeFires #community @americanredcross

    lifebridgehealth: "Members of the #LifeBridgeHealth Leadership Academy recently installed more than 35 smoke detectors in homes as part of the American Red Cross “Sound the Alarm” initiative, a campaign to end house fires. The teams also tested smoke detectors and provided fire safety education, including evacuation plans, to families along the Liberty Road/Northern Parkway corridor. #EndHomeFires #community @americanredcross"
    11
    0
  • The #LifeBridgeHealth Sports Medicine Institute hit a home run with the recent Wine and Cheese: Brains and Knees event. Dr. Crutchfield and Dr. Bennett talked about concussions, ACL tears, and staying safe on and off the field. Check out some pictures from the event. #SportsMedicine #Sports

    lifebridgehealth: "The #LifeBridgeHealth Sports Medicine Institute hit a home run with the recent Wine and Cheese: Brains and Knees event.  Dr. Crutchfield and Dr. Bennett talked about concussions, ACL tears, and staying safe on and off the field. Check out some pictures from the event. #SportsMedicine #Sports"
    23
    0