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
  • Congratulations to the #LifeBridgeHealth SuperStar employees! These employees have been nominated by their coworkers for going above and beyond the call of duty, every day. Thank you, for all that you do! #TeamLifeBridge [From top left to bottom right: Dujon Williams of #CarrollHospital, Gladys Cox of #NorthwestHospital, Timothy Squire of #Levindale, and Sean Curran of #SinaiHospital] #EmployeeAppreciation #HealthCare #Maryland

    lifebridgehealth: "Congratulations to the #LifeBridgeHealth SuperStar employees! These employees have been nominated by their coworkers for going above and beyond the call of duty, every day. Thank you, for all that you do! #TeamLifeBridge
[From top left to bottom right: Dujon Williams of #CarrollHospital, Gladys Cox of #NorthwestHospital, Timothy Squire of #Levindale, and Sean Curran of #SinaiHospital] #EmployeeAppreciation #HealthCare #Maryland"
    23
    0
  • To celebrate #RandomActsofKindnessDay, the Employee Activities Committee at #SinaiHospital and Interim COO Jonathan Ringo, M.D. joined forces to greet employees on their way into work, to give them a delicious cup of hot chocolate! Thanks to all the employees who stopped by and joined us! #RAKWeek2017

    lifebridgehealth: "To celebrate #RandomActsofKindnessDay, the Employee Activities Committee at #SinaiHospital and Interim COO Jonathan Ringo, M.D. joined forces to greet employees on their way into work, to give them a delicious cup of hot chocolate! Thanks to all the employees who stopped by and joined us! #RAKWeek2017"
    21
    0
  • #DidYouKnow #Heartdisease doesn’t only affect men. It is the leading cause of death for women as well as men in the United States. To help educate our community about this disease, Dr. Bridgette C. Provost of BW Primary Care, a #LifeBridgeHealth partner, spoke about the misconceptions of heart disease in women at our “Girls Night Out” community event on February 2. #HeartMonth #HeartHealth #KnowYourNumbers

    lifebridgehealth: "#DidYouKnow #Heartdisease doesn’t only affect men. It is the leading cause of death for women as well as men in the United States.
To help educate our community about this disease, Dr. Bridgette C. Provost of BW Primary Care, a #LifeBridgeHealth partner, spoke about the misconceptions of heart disease in women at our “Girls Night Out” community event on February 2.  #HeartMonth #HeartHealth #KnowYourNumbers"
    18
    0
  • #DYK Every 40 seconds someone has a stroke in the U.S., but 80% of all strokes are preventable. #WednesdayWisdom #KnowYourNumbers (📸 credit: @american_heart)

    lifebridgehealth: "#DYK Every 40 seconds someone has a stroke in the U.S., but 80% of all strokes are preventable. #WednesdayWisdom #KnowYourNumbers (📸 credit: @american_heart)"
    11
    0
  • We had a great time decorating cupcakes today with @hopeforhenry today! #ValentinesDay

    lifebridgehealth: "We had a great time decorating cupcakes today with @hopeforhenry today! #ValentinesDay"
    19
    0
  • What's happening here? #LifeBridgeHealth is getting ready to launch our latest #employee engagement survey, and we're peeling back the curtain on how it all works. We're doing a video with our survey consultant to explain how his company gathers employee feedback while keeping individual responses anonymous. #behindthescenes #staytuned #Maryland #employeeappreciation

    lifebridgehealth: "What's happening here? #LifeBridgeHealth is getting ready to launch our latest #employee engagement survey, and we're peeling back the curtain on how it all works. We're doing a video with our survey consultant to explain how his company gathers employee feedback while keeping individual responses anonymous. #behindthescenes #staytuned #Maryland #employeeappreciation"
    17
    0
  • As part of our #employee engagement initiative, we asked employees to share with us what they like best about working at #LifeBridgeHealth. Here's what one #SinaiHospital employee had to say. #Healthcare #Hospital #LoveWhereYouWork #DoWhatYouLove

    lifebridgehealth: "As part of our #employee engagement initiative, we asked employees to share with us what they like best about working at #LifeBridgeHealth. Here's what one #SinaiHospital employee had to say.

#Healthcare #Hospital #LoveWhereYouWork #DoWhatYouLove"
    18
    0
  • One of #CBS News’ favorites, #CharlieRose, is to undergo heart surgery. @LBHealth Dr. Christopher Kwon takes the mystery out of the surgery and tells us what we should all know tonight at 5 pm on CBS #Baltimore. #Maryland #HeartHealth #HeartMonth

    lifebridgehealth: "One of #CBS News’ favorites, #CharlieRose, is to undergo heart surgery. @LBHealth Dr. Christopher Kwon takes the mystery out of the surgery and tells us what we should all know tonight at 5 pm on CBS #Baltimore. #Maryland #HeartHealth #HeartMonth"
    21
    0
  • The new signs are here! Check out these bright banners around the #SinaiHospital campus highlighting some great achievements, including the U.S. News & World Report rankings for the hospital itself as well as the Departments of Neurology and Neurology. #LifeBridgeHealth #Maryland #Healthcare #Hospital

    lifebridgehealth: "The new signs are here! Check out these bright banners around the #SinaiHospital campus highlighting some great achievements, including the U.S. News & World Report rankings for the hospital itself as well as the Departments of Neurology and Neurology. #LifeBridgeHealth #Maryland #Healthcare #Hospital"
    41
    1
  • #LifeBridgeHealth has gone red! Today the staff across our facilities wore red to support the #AmericanHeartAssociation and their fight against heart disease and stroke! #GoRedWearRed #HeartHealth

    lifebridgehealth: "#LifeBridgeHealth has gone red! Today the staff across our facilities wore red to support the #AmericanHeartAssociation and their fight against heart disease and stroke! #GoRedWearRed #HeartHealth"
    24
    1