Why all runners should strive for symmetry

Rick Pearson
·2-min read
Photo credit: New Balance
Photo credit: New Balance

From Runner's World

A butterfly’s wings. A snowflake. A beautiful face. All things possessing great symmetry – can the same be said for your running?

While achieving perfect symmetry is impossible, movement specialist Shane Benzie believes all runners would benefit from becoming more symmetrical.

‘Balance and symmetry beats power every day,’ he says. ‘If we run in a symmetrical way, each movement is investing in the next movement and we therefore tap into the elastic energy within the body.’

By contrast, asymmetry creates what Benzie calls ‘chaos in the body’, making inefficiency and injury more likely, as one side of the body is working harder than the other.

While it’s easy to think of running as a legs game, asymmetry is often easiest to spot – and remedy – in the arms.

‘Your arms are dominant over your legs, says Benzie, ‘so what your right arm is doing sends powerful messages to your left leg, and vice versa on the other side.’

To fix this, Benzie encourages people to imagine a line running down the centre of their body that their arms should never cross. Here are three more tips to help you become a more symmetrical runner:

Video

Ask a friend to video you running towards the camera. Look at the footage and identify any asymmetries, such as arms crossing the body or head leaning to the side.

Balance

Stand on one leg for 30 seconds. Now try to do this with your eyes closed. Is it a lot easier on one leg than the other? Work on it until it feels equally easy on both.

Stair test

When you run up or down some stairs, does one leg always lead? If so, try to even things out – it will help to make you a more balanced, symmetrical runner both uphill and down.

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