Besides being a Youth Runner contributor, Mick Grant is also the coauthor of the The Youth and Teen Running Encyclopedia. http://www.amazon.com/dp/1495425789
Teaching good running form to kids will help reduce injury risk and give many kids a better long term running experience. A terrific program is Good Form Running, which teaches 4 basic principles and gives simple cues to help proper movement and mechanics awareness. GFR benefits include fewer injuries, less fatigue, faster running!
Good Form Running was begun in 2006, by Curt Munson and John Benedict, co-owners of Playmakers, in Michigan. With the backing of New Balance, Good Form Running has become a popular running clinic all across the country and in even in Europe. Running, specifically marathon running, has had a surge in popularity and the majority of runners have never been taught proper running form. This could be a major contributing factor in the percentage of runners who get injured every year.
Teaching Good Form Running doesn’t require more of a teacher than a stopwatch and a metronome. Videotaping running form is a useful tool, if you have the capability.
Good Form Running is simple and fun.
Many thanks to Marcy Kinzer, Rob Antcliff, Curt Munson, John Benedict and Andy Marsh, of Playmakers, for their help.
The 4 Points of Good Form Running
Stand tall, relaxed shoulders, feet pointed forward, soft knees, elbows 90 degrees
“Posture Reset” Looking straight ahead, raise arms to the sky, then slowly lower to your sides. Reaching up will reset a tall posture, with no slouching. Practice posture reset while jogging. Use this method when you get tired on a run or even frequently during the day! Practice #1
Stand on one leg, with your entire foot on the ground. This is the most stable foot position. Try this just using your toes or heel. It is much less stable. Midfoot teaches you to land midfoot, directly below the hips, for better stability and safety. Heel strikes land in front of the hips and cause a braking action every step. It is also increases how long the foot is on the ground and increases stress on the knees and shins. Forefoot strikes tend to overwork calf muscles and Achilles. Practice marching in place, using hip-flexors, not calf, to raise/lower leg. Feel a soft midfoot strike. Then march in place using toes, then heels. Feel and learn the difference between midfoot, heel and forefoot strike. We want to reduce impact shock, which travels from the heel, through the ankles, shins, knees, hips and back. Practice #1 and #2
Cadence is how many steps you take per minute. Many new runners will have a cadence of 150-160 strides per minute. Good Form Running aims for a stride rate of 180 strides per minute. The exact number is not critical, but generally more is better. Cadence is independent of pace. You can run in place with a cadence of 180. To test yourself, run for 1 minute and count how many steps you take with your right foot, and then multiply that number by 2. That is your cadence. Sprinters usually have high cadence. We want to reduce the amount of time your foot is on the ground. Learning increased cadence feel strange, because you are shortening your stride slightly. Cadence is the most important of the 4 Points for reducing injury risk. Practice #1, #2 and #3
Lean simply uses gravity to help move forward. You don’t bend at the waist. Lean from the ankle as you begin to run. This should be natural. The faster you run, the more you lean. Remember to keep good posture! Trying to lean too much will break down your good posture. To practice, stand tall, reset posture, start to slightly lean forward. You will eventually feel your toes grab the ground, and then you will naturally step forward to catch yourself. Practice #1, #2, #3 and #4
VIDEOS From Good Form Running
I commend you on your interest in promoting proper running form as it relates to staying healthy and reducing the risk of injury. I have been a physical education teacher for over 19 years and prior to my instruction in GFR I never actually taught my students how to run. For the past three years I have carefully taught Good Form Running (GFR) to my K-4th grade students, as illustrated in the Playmakers GFR lessons, and I cannot begin to tell you what a difference it has made in the overall confidence in my students’ running. I constantly get feedback from the families of my students how their children are sharing the 4 points of running and are applying these concepts to family 5K events, after-school soccer, football, and other running related activities.
We assess our elementary students twice annually on their cardiovascular endurance through various timed runs. Since the inclusion of our GFR instruction we have seen a dramatic increase in the success of our students meeting their cardiovascular goals. This is clearly due to the understanding our students have acquired on the "how to" run with ease and confidence. Finally I need to comment on the feedback we have received from our middle school and HS physical education teachers and coaches. They comment on the remarkable difference in the form the students are bringing to their classes and programs through the skills they have been working on GFR at the elementary level.
We also infuse the concepts of GFR in our lunchtime Mileage Club Program, as well as our summer recreation programs.
Hope this first hand information on the fantastic success our schools and community has been having with GFR helps with your article.
I absolutely love Good Form Running and the impact it has had on our students’ cardiovascular endurance, as well as their everyday play in other sports & activities we have practiced in the gym! These include soccer, basketball, running in kickball, and our average instant activity tagging games! We have complied the 4 points into simple terminology for our K-4th grade students;
1. Posture reset (sunshine pose K-2)
2. Mid-foot (pancake feet K-2)
3. Cadence (quick feet K-2)
4. Forward Lean
After instructing the four elements to GFR I have seen great improvement on the students’ ability to play longer and travel farther than they did without knowledge on proper running form. They have fun in games like Grand Prix Racing (seen in the GFR lesson plan) and can play this game up to 10mintues without tiring! We also love watching videos of our form using applications such as Coach’s Eye through the iPad. The students love seeing themselves in action. We use drawing tools to demonstrate proper forward lean, arm angles, and circles around the foot for proper mid-foot striking. I love GFR and can definitely see a difference in the health & wellness of the students which we teach J. Thanks!