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5 Running Form DOs and DON’Ts from Dr. Daniel Lieberman

Came across a tweet this morning from my buddy Tuck of the Yelling Stop blog. His link was to a nice video from Dr. Daniel Lieberman discussing 5 DOs and DON’Ts of running form. I agree with almost all of them, particularly points 1 and 5. As far as footstrike goes, I tend to view a little bit to either side of the midfoot to be fine as long as there is limited to no overstride (too much focus on foot strike can be problematic and often causes people to consciously exaggerate form in a potentially negative way).

Anyway, take a look at the video – what do you think?

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About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a biology teacher, track/soccer coach, and dad (x3) with a passion for running, soccer, and science. If you'd like to learn a little bit more about who I am and what I do, click here, or visit


  1. I agree that the point about foot-strike could probably be eliminated. If you run vertically, don’t over-stride and run quietly in all likelihood you will not be heel striking. Better to concentrate on these form fundamentals rather than which point on the sole of your shoe first makes contact. Everyone seems to think they’re a mid-foot striker these days anyway, although running shoes with massive heel cushions still dominate.

    • Pete Larson says:

      “Thinks” is the critical word in your statement. My guess is that most people who claim to be mid or forefoot strikers are not :)

  2. PurdueMatt says:

    I think its all spot on except for the easing into it part. Using good form puts far less stress on your body and its a more efficient stride, so there’s no reason to ease into it. I switched to a minimalist shoe and started practicing ‘good form running’ as taught by New Balance. Instantly, I could run farther easier than I ever could before.

    • Pete Larson says:

      I’d disagree – it changes the stress applied to one that most people are not adapted to. Lots of people have gotten hurt in transition by pushing too hard too fast

  3. Washington Runner says:

    Pete- I know from your footstrike/shoe test blogs you sometimes run on a treadmill indoors. I live in Washington State. Although it is beautiful this time of year and I can run outside, I am looking at getting a treadmill for the fall/winter/wet spring months. With my current work schedule, kid’s soccer practice, etc., etc., it’s difficult to get into the gym so I’m going to get a treadmill for my home and continue to run when the cold and rain arrives. Any advice on which brand and model? What do you have? Also, any advice on maintaining good running form on a treadmill versus outdoors on the road and trail? Any downside to running on a treadmill for fitness?

  4. (some prob with original post):
    Hi, a question about this video, in most material i read and watched up to now, one common suggestion is to use the lean (not extreme) to create the falling feeling that let u catch ur steps in a short strife, opposite to this video that says to stay straight up. i’m confused.

    nice video, is great to find always new good tips on how to improve & keep a good form in running.

  5. Jacky Ledeboer (Thjeko) says:

    Overall pretty good and clear advice. Despite my great respect for Dr. Liebermann I disagree on his advice to “run vertical from the hip up” for (IMO) the wrong reason (fear of bending in the waist). Running strictly vertical will hold runners back from reaching their peak performance. The perception of the torso in space is almost vertical but NOT strictly vertical. A slight lean is fine and yes I agree it should NOT be done by bending in the waist. Check image. Happy running (-;

  6. cantyoucook says:

    Absolutely LOVE this video and the full one – thanks for sharing!

  7. Dr Liebermann is an authority on running form so what dare I say? Just that, when you out running focusing on what you are doing (form, of course) maybe one or two things is more helpful. For me, thinking about vertical is most important, because that posture makes every footstep almost effortless. To that, total relaxed below the knee. Get the cadence right, and you can go on for hours.

    So, the answer to Pete´s “what do you think? Lesser cues for your outings. And only Do´s. The Don’ts will be fixed.

    Tip: The “thinking of someone pulling you straight up in the hair” for vertical posture makes it. Your feet will float.

  8. Nick Elkins says:

    Pete, do you have any one-stop guides to perfect running form? I’ve never thought much about my form. Been running for about a year now, put in between 400 – 500 miles this year. Thinking now is a good time to concern myself with perfecting my form. Thanks!

    • Pete Larson says:

      It’s on my list of topics to tackle, need to get this one done! Maybe your request is the kick I need to put a guide together.

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