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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  • Congratulations to May's #‎LifeBridgeHealth SuperStar Employees! Thank you, for all that you do and your commitment to LifeBridge Health. #‎TeamLifeBridge (Pictured here from top left to bottom right: Kendra Koerner of #SinaiHospital; Roy Jackson of #CarrollHospital; Tanya Hines of #NorthwestHospital; and Wayne Smith of #Levindale.) #HealthCare #Doctors #Nurses #Employees #employeeappreciation

    lifebridgehealth: "Congratulations to May's #‎LifeBridgeHealth SuperStar Employees! Thank you, for all that you do and your commitment to LifeBridge Health. #‎TeamLifeBridge (Pictured here from top left to bottom right: Kendra Koerner of #SinaiHospital; Roy Jackson of #CarrollHospital; Tanya Hines of #NorthwestHospital; and Wayne Smith of #Levindale.) #HealthCare #Doctors #Nurses #Employees #employeeappreciation"
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  • Employees and visitors at #SinaiHospital enjoyed a special treat today in honor of Sinai’s 150th anniversary. We had a special throwback $1.50 meal deal in the cafeteria and hundreds stopped by to enjoy a delicious slice of cake! #Anniversary #Healthcare #LifeBridgeHealth #Celebrate #Baltimore

    lifebridgehealth: "Employees and visitors at #SinaiHospital enjoyed a special treat today in honor of Sinai’s 150th anniversary. We had a special throwback $1.50 meal deal in the cafeteria and hundreds stopped by to enjoy a delicious slice of cake! #Anniversary #Healthcare #LifeBridgeHealth #Celebrate #Baltimore"
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  • The physicians, nurses and researchers of the Alvin & Lois Lapidus #Cancer Institute enjoyed a presentation last week on the benefits of integrative #medicine by Donald Yance Jr., a leader in the field. Seen here, from left to right, are Sandra Bauer, executive director of the Cancer Institute; Marvin Feldman, M.D., acting medical director of the Cancer Institute; Jennifer Yance; Lois Lapidus; Donald Yance Jr.; Yolanda Marzouk, patient support services coordinator of the Cancer Institute; and Warren Ross, M.D. #healthcare #lifebridgehealth

    lifebridgehealth: "The physicians, nurses and researchers of the Alvin & Lois Lapidus #Cancer Institute enjoyed a presentation last week on the benefits of integrative #medicine by Donald Yance Jr., a leader in the field. Seen here, from left to right, are Sandra Bauer, executive director of the Cancer Institute; Marvin Feldman, M.D., acting medical director of the Cancer Institute; Jennifer Yance; Lois Lapidus; Donald Yance Jr.; Yolanda Marzouk, patient support services coordinator of the Cancer Institute; and Warren Ross, M.D.  #healthcare #lifebridgehealth"
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    lifebridgehealth: "Between #BBQs and dining at local restaurants with friends, the #summer can have a negative impact on your healthy #eating habits. To avoid these impacts, remember that ALL your food and beverage choices matter.‪ Focus on #food variety, amount and #nutrition density, and make #healthy choices from all five food groups to get the nutrients you need. #‎WisdomWednesday #eathealthy #healthyfood #healthyhabits #LifeBridgeHealth"
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    lifebridgehealth: "As people get older and may need some extra help and compassion, many families turn to the Adult Day Services teams at #Levindale and Pikesville. Our dedicated staff members at both centers know how they would want their elderly loved ones cared for, and they make sure they go the extra mile ... or ten. #teamlifebridge #lifebridgehealth #healthcare #maryland"
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  • Seen here are the faculty and residents of the #SinaiHospital Program in Physical Medicine and Rehab. These residents’ training focuses on a person’s functional recovery following disabling illnesses and injuries. Congrats to the four residents graduating this month, we wish you the very best as you pursue your medical careers! We also welcome four first-year residents joining us in July. #ClassOf2016 #healthcare #LifeBridgeHealth #TeamLifeBridge

    lifebridgehealth: "Seen here are the faculty and residents of the #SinaiHospital Program in Physical Medicine and Rehab. These residents’ training focuses on a person’s functional recovery following disabling illnesses and injuries. Congrats to the four residents graduating this month, we wish you the very best as you pursue your medical careers! We also welcome four first-year residents joining us in July. #ClassOf2016 #healthcare #LifeBridgeHealth #TeamLifeBridge"
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  • #SinaiHospital is proud to be home to the nation's first interactive #donor memorial wall, which honors our generous organ and tissue donors, and offers a way for people to scan their drivers licenses to register as an organ donor. We are so appreciative to the dozens of donor families who came to our recent dedication event. #donatelife #organdonor #tissuedonor #givelife #LifeBridgeHealth

    lifebridgehealth: "#SinaiHospital is proud to be home to the nation's first interactive #donor memorial wall, which honors our generous organ and tissue donors, and offers a way for people to scan their drivers licenses to register as an organ donor. We are so appreciative to the dozens of donor families who came to our recent dedication event. #donatelife #organdonor #tissuedonor #givelife #LifeBridgeHealth"
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  • #TBT The lunch counter at #SinaiHospital, circa 1960. Help us celebrate our 150th anniversary by sharing your Sinai story in a comment below. #Baltimore #Hospital #HealthCare

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  • #TeamLifeBridge: Charged with raising funds across #LifeBridgeHealth, the Development Department focuses their efforts on working with patients, families, board members, physicians, corporations, foundations and government funders, all with the goal of attracting charitable support for LifeBridge Health programs and services. We thank you for your devotion to our organization and all the hard work you do each and every day. #employeeappreciation #support #giveback

    lifebridgehealth: "#TeamLifeBridge: Charged with raising funds across #LifeBridgeHealth, the Development Department focuses their efforts on working with patients, families, board members, physicians, corporations, foundations and government funders, all with the goal of attracting charitable support for LifeBridge Health programs and services. We thank you for your devotion to our organization and all the hard work you do each and every day. #employeeappreciation #support #giveback"
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    lifebridgehealth: "At LifeBridge Health, we express our sympathies for those affected by the shootings in #Orlando, Florida. We extend our sincere condolences to those who were harmed by this senseless tragedy as well as our gratitude and support to the first responders and medical personnel who are working tirelessly to help the victims. #PrayForOrlando"
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