Your gait retraining plan

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Smart runners take a strength-focused approach.

Movement sparks progress. For high performers, this forward momentum is powered by currents in science, technology, and subculture. To celebrate the launch of ASICS GEL-KAYANO® 26, Furthermore and ASICS have partnered to harness the power of these currents and show you how to channel them into actual results.

In running, coaches used to ask runners to take smaller strides, emphasize their arm drive, and change their posture on the spot to achieve so-called perfect form. But now, they’re stepping back and encouraging athletes to embrace their natural gaits more so than before.

“The way people run is far more than just right or wrong,” says David Siik, LA-based senior manager of running for Equinox and creator of Precision Run. “It’s a poetic movement requiring a beautifully complex chain of reactions.”

Interrupting any part of that chain by demanding immediate gait changes can do more harm than good. Studies show that when you’re hyper-focused on form, you use oxygen less efficiently than you do when you run in the way that instinctively feels right.

Plus, Siik notes that much of the time, runners don’t get hurt until they’re forced to better fit the mold. Since body mass, shape, height, and past injuries affect how you run, the ideal form for one person could be detrimental to someone else.

More importantly, simply telling runners to bounce less or increase their cadence doesn’t address the underlying reasons for slightly-off gaits, Siik explains. Instead, strengthening the muscles listed below will help you adopt your body’s version of proper form over time without getting injured. Another way to run smart: Choose shoes with all-around protection, like the ASICS GEL-KAYANO® 26.

During your next training cycle, like while prepping for Chicago or NYC, incorporate one exercise from each batch below into your routine twice a week on non-run or easy days, making sure not to repeat moves within the week. Aim for 4 to 5 sets of 8 to 10 reps, using a weight that brings you 1 to 2 reps shy of failure.

The muscles to strengthen: gluteus maximus

The why: Hip flexor-dominant runners are apt to over-stride, reaching their legs too far in front of their body with each step. Not only does this up injury risk by increasing the force on the knee, it also slows you down. Shorter, faster strides powered by the gluteus maximus are more efficient and help you run pain-free, says Michael Olzinski, a Precision Run coach at Equinox locations in San Francisco.

The how: Hip thrusts, dumbbell deadlifts, and kickstand deadlifts

The muscles to strengthen: transverse abs, obliques

The why: As you run, you should stay upright with the pelvis perpendicular to the spine, Olzinski says. A strong core helps keep everything in line while giving your lungs plenty of space for deep, diaphragmatic breaths. The movements below force your body to resist the weights’ pull, teaching the body to remain stable through every step.

The how: Dead bugs, bird dogs, Paloff presses, side planks, suitcase carries, stability ball roll-outs, and goblet carries

The muscles to strengthen: middle and lower traps, rhomboids, lats

The why: Swinging your arms left and right signals upper-body fatigue and can lead to unnecessary twisting in the torso, Siik says. It also wastes energy, since your efforts are split between forward and side-to-side motion. Building muscle in the back and shoulders helps drive the arms straight ahead of and behind you to propel you forward.

The how: Rear-delt flys, lat pulldowns, and static crab holds

The muscles to strengthen: hamstrings

The why: To improve running cadence and avoid overstressing the lower body, you need to actively engage the hamstrings, Olzinski says. Every time your foot strikes the ground, they should help pull the foot up behind you, almost as if you’re about to perform butt kicks.

The how: Hip bridges and stability ball hamstring curls