27 March 2012

7 Steps To Natural Running

Centuries ago, people ran without wearing any footwear and, according to US-certified running coach Jay Alvarez, that is natural running. "However, in the past several decades, runners have altered the way they run. Runners have become more of ‘heel strikers’ which stops forward momentum," he explains. "Time is lost as runners get centered over mass and you need to push off to regain forward momentum."
Alvarez confirmed that a runner may acquire more injuries due to the sudden stops and starts of an improper running form. "Natural running," Alvarez explains, "is the way we run without footwear on a natural surface. Now, we want to understand and practice the natural running form while wearing footwear and running on an unnatural surface."

"Imagine, how far you can go if you don’t break your stride?" he asked attendees of the running clinic held during the formal launch of the RUNNR store in Alabang Town Center. Alvarez explains that natural running starts with the feet and that landing lightly on the midfoot/forefoot region allows runners to properly sense ground; eliminate braking and debilitating impacts, slower cadence, muscle fatigue and tightness associated with heel striking gait; and run relaxed both mentally and physically.
He shared the following techniques when practicing natural running.
• Be mindful of posture. Think tall and stand in an athletic position; everything should be aligned. The better the posture, the better your balance. Also have your core muscles engaged.
• Start marching. Land underneath your body. Just lift your feet and learn to do 180 steps per minute. Next, increase the tempo until you’re jogging in place. Let your heel touch the ground after landing on your mid foot.
• Use gravity to your advantage. Any movement requires balance and running is a series of one-legged balanced movements.
• Transition slowly to avoid straining muscles and soft tissues; take time, relax and be patient; focus on form; and keep practicing.
• Always keep your head up. Looking downward while running will slow you down.
• Do dynamic warm-ups to activate the muscles. Static stretching should be done at the end of the workout because this, in turn, will relax your muscles.
• Wear the right running shoes. When buying a new pair, never assume that you’ll take the same size as your previous shoe. Always try on both shoes. First, try on the size you think would fit best then walk on a hard surface. Continue trying on larger half-sizes until you find the shoes that are obviously too large. If available, also try different shoe widths to get the best fit. 



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