DEAR DR. DONOHUE: Can you give me the correct running style? I ask because sometimes I have foot pain after running, and I wonder if it’s the way I run that causes it. Thank you. – M.B.

This is a coach question, not a doctor question, but I’ll try to fill your wish.

Run with the body straight or with only a slight forward bend. Pros tell us to run tall. A greater bend is fine for acceleration, but it is not needed for sustained running, even at a fast clip.

Keep your head straight and look toward the horizon. A runner should not look so far into the distance that he or she is not aware of the lay of the land he or she is running on. Runners need to know if there is a pothole or other obstacle in their path.

The arms should be bent at a 90 degree angle. The right arm should be forward when the left foot is forward, and vice versa for the left arm and right foot. The swing of the arms upward should end when the hand is at chest level. Keep the hands relaxed and slightly cupped, with the thumb lightly touching the index finger.

Most coaches tell their distance runners to have the heel of the foot make first contact with the ground. In speed running, the first contact can be at a more forward position of the foot.

Have you considered that your shoes might be the problem? They often are. Wear shoes that provide enough cushioning when the foot hits the ground but have enough firmness in the back of the shoe so the heel doesn’t wobble. There should be a one-half-inch gap between the tip of the longest toe and the front of the shoe. Buy shoes in the late afternoon, when the feet are at their largest.

If all of the above comes to naught, then you cannot fool around. You should then see a doctor for the hundreds of problems that runners have with their feet. Only a fraction of those problems have to do with running form and running shoes.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: For exercise, I ride a bike, but I now have a problem. My back hurts. My wife thinks it’s due to the hunched position I take to hold the handlebars. Does that sound reasonable to you? – G.M.

It sounds very reasonable.

The handlebars of professional cyclists are in a position that make them lean forward in a hunched position. Apparently that is the most physiologically correct and aerodynamically sound position for a cyclist to take. However, only a few are gunning for a place in the Tour de France.

Position the handlebars so they are only an inch lower than the seat. If that position is hard on your back, raise them higher, and keep raising them until you find your comfort zone.

The seat should be adjusted so there is only a slight bend in the leg when the foot is at the bottom of the pedal rotation. If the knee is bent too much, the seat is too low. If the leg is perfectly straight, the seat is too high.

Let me know the results of these changes.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I smoke a pack of cigarettes a day. I also exercise daily. I run five miles and can do so with ease. I figure that my running will keep my lungs healthy in spite of cigarettes. Am I right? – K.T.

You’re wrong.

With each puff of cigarette smoke inhaled, you draw into your lungs carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide elbows oxygen off red blood cells. A deficient supply of oxygen reaches exercising muscles as well as all other body organs and tissues. If you have even a slight blockage of blood flow in your heart arteries, carbon monoxide lowers the volume of oxygen reaching the heart muscle. That can be dangerous.

Common sense dictates that no exercise ever neutralizes the harm of cigarette smoke.

Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.

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