Health

Mind Your Manners: Should I Tell My Friend She Has Terrible Form?

Etiquette expert Lizzie Post advises caution when it comes to critiquing our running friends.

Etiquette expert and runner Lizzie Post knows a thing or two about the rules of the road. The great-great granddaughter of etiquette’s original reigning queen, Emily Post, is aware that constructive criticism isn’t always taken well–even when it comes from a runner friend full of good intentions.

My friend’s running form is super wonky. I feel like I should say something, because she’s likely opening herself up to injury—do you think that’s okay?

Speaking up for safety is always a good thing, but I would tread carefully for two reasons. Firstly, unless you are a trained professional, your experience is likely limited and based on your body, not hers. While it might be easy to call out a stride that “looks funny,” your friend’s body is different from yours. Secondly, as any sports enthusiast knows (and clearly you do too), when someone criticizes our skill, technique or ability unprompted, frustration is often the result.

Warnings aside, I do think that you can approach this topic with your friend. The polite thing to do is to ask her permission to raise the topic. “Hey, Jess, we’ve never talked about this kind of thing, so I thought I should ask you first. Are you open to feedback or advice about running?”

If Jess says yes, my suggestion is to advise her to seek the help of a coach or physical therapist to work on her form. You might say, “It could be helpful to have a PT check your stride. It’s really easy to get out of alignment and that can lead to pain or injury. It might be nothing, but it’s never a bad idea to have a professional take a look.”

You haven’t tried to diagnose her, you haven’t scared her, but you are letting her know that paying attention to her form isn’t a bad idea.

Related:

Mind Your Manners: Be Up Front if You’re Going to Maybe Bail on a Run

Mind Your Manners: Stick to the Course, Trail Racers

The Beginner’s Guide to Perfect Running Form