"Bad?" Running Advice: What Does All This Running Form Advice Mean?

"I see soo much information about form that I think I get overwhelmed and don’t know where to start."

"I have trouble translating what I read to actually practicing it."

"I hear what seems to be conflicting advice about running…Too much info sometimes lol."

These are your words, not mine.

And frankly…

I couldn't agree more.

Running form should feel effortless, natural, and strong and instead it feels conflicting, overwhelming, and confusing.

Add "stressful" on top of that if you're just coming back from an injury. In that case, you're determined to do everything in your power, including adjusting your running form, to avoid any other set back in the future.

But a lot of times that turns into:

"How do I know I'm doing this right? And what does all this advice mean? How do I actually improve my running form?"

Not what you were looking for, right?

What do you say we de-mystifying a couple confusing pieces of running form advice? (And busting 1 "bad" piece, but I'm getting ahead of myself..).

Then while you're here, lets Dare to Train Differently and try out some VERY NON-TRADITIONAL running form exercises as an experiment? These will challenge you. And most runners will NEVER do them! And it's not that they're ridiculously hard; they're just…different. ;) (but you already expected that, didn’t you?)

You in?

Let's go!

What does it mean to run tall? And bend from my ankles?

I'm a PT and the cue "bend from your ankles" makes my head hurt…

I understand the purpose and the motion that's trying to be created with it, but I'd (personally) rather cue you a different way, a more natural way… but here I go again getting ahead of myself.

"Running tall" isn't a "bad" cue if you or a running buddy tends to have slouchy posture, especially with sagging shoulder or a head that sticks out. Where "running tall" can get us into trouble is when it allows you to "drive from the back seat" or "sit back in the ‘bucket’ with your legs out in front of your body".


Where do these cues come from?

"Many running styles, including ChiRunning, pose running, and even barefoot running have included cues for novice runners to increase trunk lean. A focus on leaning “from the ankles,” rather than increasing hip flexion to achieve the trunk lean, seems to be a priority for some styles. Many running experts suggest that trunk lean is a key component to correct running posture. However, very little has been done on the research side of this issue

the authors noted that the trunk lean in these subjects was not purely from the ankles, as is recommended by some running styles, but rather a combination of hip flexion, pelvis anterior tilt, and other small kinematic adjustments"

Is this starting to come together for you?

What might have you so confused is multiple cues all trying to help you achieve ONE thing: leaning forward which (hypothetically) creates an efficient running form and stride.

Some other cues that do this:

  • "Don't lean from your waist"

  • "Don't bend from your hips"

  • "Fall forward off the feet"

  • And I'm sure there's a million other ones..

Here's my physical therapy 2 cents:

this happens a lot in the PT world, too. We overcomplicate an exercise and give too many directions or cues fr