I’m sure most of you don’t associate symmetry and running form, since it’s about grade nine math in our most of our minds. But trust me, symmetry in your running form can help you stay away from injuries and even increase efficiency.
If you look at the world class runners, they are all very symmetric. For them and most runners, it’s all about being as efficient as possible and making sure you’re not putting any body part at a risk of overuse.
Symmetry deals with left and right as well as upper and lower body. We are always in balance in the body whether we like it or not. If we force it on some plain, it can lead to overuse injuries.
Our bodies are not perfectly symmetric since we use them differently. This is why I’m pretty anal about having even weight distribution between both feet. A lot of people, especially females, always sit on one hip (put all the weight of their bodies on one foot the majority of the time) and that creates an imbalance and usually leads to an IT band injury.
I’ve also talked a lot about not carrying anything in your hands or on your arms when you’re out running. A nice relaxed and even arm swing is critical to symmetry. If you’re upper body is all over the place, it’s going to affect your lower body. We’re all connected so when someone has a bit of a leg whip, it’s usually related to a hip or arm swing issue.
It’s obviously important in long distance (anything above 400/800m) but you can hear about it in the Olympics for the sprinting events as well so this is something that most running coaches can agree on.
It’s hard to notice our own symmetry when we’re out running so this is when video analysis can be very valuable. It’s pretty shocking to most people when they see one arm swinging more than the other or something similar. But like I always say, video doesn’t lie!