Workout Tips

Fix Your Running Form when Burning Fat

Try these moves to stop running related pain and move better on the road.

running wearing headphones

By now, most of us have accepted that cardio is a large part of fat loss. Some step, others row, but most Americans lace up and hit the road to burn extra calories. Many suffer pain that ranges from nagging to downright debilitating. 

Like most pain related issues, causation is complicated and multi faceted. Lack of physical preparation, excessive mileage, and inappropriate recovery time are all big time players in the pain game. Thankfully, all can be addressed by pulling back off the throttle, listening to your body and resting.  Unfortunately, there is one major lynchpin in running pain that thousands if not millions of fitness enthusiasts completely disregard when they hit the road-their technique. 

Most would agree that form is hugely important in the gym. Any trainer or gym partner worth their weight in whey protein wouldn’t let their client or friend dead lift with a rounded lower back or dive bomb bench press to their neck. But if you have a running pal who smashes their heel into the ground like they are attempting to wipe out an endless colony of invisible ants you might be setting them up for injury just like crappy exercise form would.  

Form Check

running outdoors

Here’s a quick test to try at home. Kick off your shoes and jump on your toes five times in a row. Hopefully, that felt as smooth as Vin Deisels famous cranium. Now, jump on your heels five times in a row. Chances are that was as painful and awkward as a junior high school dance. 

If your forefoot is the “gas” then your heel is the “break.” If you happen to foot strike with your heel then you are essentially “running with the breaks on.” The problem with today’s thick soled footwear is that it becomes easy to heel strike because the cushion in the heel dampens the blow.  “Dampens the blow” that sounds like something you’d like right? Well no, because the breaking force associated with heel striking is still substantial enough to cause shin splints, knee issues and hip and back pain. Additionally, this foot strike doesn’t allow the foot, arch and Achilles do what they are designed to do. You are messing with nature man!   

Most runners then enter a vicious cycle of pain med prescriptions, joint wraps and designer orthotics without ever looking at the culprit at hand-the technique. 

So how do we cure running related pain? Great question, for the designs of this article we will keep it simple and avoid an advanced anatomy breakdown. I have found that an easy way to start is to kick the shoes off and do some low intensity jogging on grass. One, it’s really tough to run on your heels shoeless so you can get the FEEL kinesthetically and two; grass is way more forgiving than blacktop. 

barefoot runner

Shoeless running became all the rage a number of years ago and like many great ideas, a couple of folks took it overboard. The thinking behind the movement was that early man didn’t wear shoes while loping after the wily antelope in the African savannah, so why should we? A good point, but it doesn’t capture the whole picture, not by a longshot. 

Early man ALWAYS went shoeless, wasn’t an orthopedic mess from a sedentary lifestyle and most importantly wasn’t running on blacktop. 

So when the aforementioned “over board” crew of weekend warriors with weak feet and a brand new running style tried to do 5 miles shoeless or minimalist the forecast called for pain. Joints dipped in boiling adamantium type of pain. So when I say go slow with the shoeless grass running, go snail’s pace son.    

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