A professional runner runs on the screen in front of Uwe Kersting. The body is erect, straight running strides, it looks dynamic and effortless. But Kersting notices something: The runner’s right arm hangs a little lower than the left.
An asymmetry in the movement – some would say that’s bad, you have to strive for symmetry. But for the on-screen pro, endurance specialist Martin Johnson, it works.
Uwe Kersting shares his observation at the end of our phone call, which essentially deals with the question: How does jogging actually go really smoothly?
Kersting is a professor at the German Sport University in Cologne and in his research work he has also dealt intensively with what improves the lives of runners – and what does not.
1. This is how jogging works
First the sobering realization: If there are problems when running, it can often not be reduced to a single cause – at least from a purely scientific point of view.
“Of course it can be that a new shoe brings the necessary change for improvement,” says Kersting. That’s not a guarantee. The same applies to the running style. There are the experts who analyze it and make suggestions on how things could go better. “But whether that prevents overloading, for example, is another question,” says Kersting. There is no one “right” running style.
2. No right or wrong
This is also confirmed by Urs Weber from the trade journal “Runners World”. There is no ideal to strive for, no right or wrong. “Everyone runs the way they were born to walk.”
However, the running style can have an influence on the shoe selection, according to Weber. For example, heel runners – that’s what most people say – need well-cushioned shoes “from experience”.
Heel runners land heel first and roll off with the whole foot. There are two other types of runners: midfoot and forefoot runners. Weber’s advice for beginning runners is to visit a specialty store.
The advice there makes it more likely to find the right shoe.
3. There is no such thing as a perfect run
But as nice as the idea may be, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for running perfectly.
At the same time it is comforting. If you get along with your style, that’s fine – you don’t have to change anything about it cramp.
Nevertheless, there are a few general tips to make sure everything runs smoothly. According to scientist Uwe Kersting, two things are particularly important:
- Increase the amount slowly. “We know from our studies that major changes in the amount of exercise are often accompanied by symptoms of stress,” he says. Beginners in particular should not overdo it. The ligaments and tendons in particular need some time to adapt, while the muscles in the legs and feet strengthen comparatively quickly.
- Try and always listen to yourself. If running doesn’t feel good or something hurts all the time, it’s better to change something. It doesn’t have to be a change of shoes. In such a case, it might be worth taking a look at your running style first. Does it help to take bigger steps – or smaller ones? Or you reduce the duration of your runs for the time being to reduce the stress
It also makes sense not only to keep an eye on the legs. Strong trunk muscles ensure that the upper body is better able to compensate for the permanent small impact loads during a jog.
This prevents back pain after running.
4. Even a small workload has a positive effect
The orthopaedist Prof. Sven Ostermeier from the Gundelfingen joint clinic also advises beginner walkers to keep the load low at first.
You shouldn’t jog more than three times a week. They should only slowly increase the volume of their running laps. He makes it clear: Even a small workload brings something. Running for 10 to 15 minutes several times a week has positive health effects.
The other extreme is represented by the professional runner Martin Johnson, whose slightly hanging right arm caught Uwe Kersting’s eye.
The Englishman once ran 184 miles, that’s almost 300 kilometers, in 38 hours and 35 minutes. Despite his not quite symmetrical running style – or maybe because of it?
German Press Agency (dpa)
Runners World: Ultrarunner Martin Johnson https://www.runnersworld.com/uk/health/a36629829/ultrarunner-martin-johnson/
Runners World: The running types and tips for running https://www.runnersworld.de/training-basiswissen/auf-dem-vorfuss-oder-ueber-die-heerse-laufen/