Tips For Better Running Form

Improving your running form can help you run faster, more efficiently, and with less stress on your body. I helped mentor a beginning woman’s running group in Doylestown, Pa. for about 10 years.  The question I was asked most often was “what is the proper running form?”

  • Look Ahead – Your eyes should be focused on the ground about 10 to 20 feet ahead of you. Don’t stare at your feet. This form also is safer way to run because you can see what’s coming.
  • Land Midfoot – Don’t be a toe runner or a heel-striker. If you land on your toes, your calves will get tight or fatigue quickly and you may develop shin pain. Landing on your heels means you have over-strided or “you’re braking”, this wastes energy and may cause injury. Try to land on the middle of your foot, and then roll through to the front of your toes.
  • Hands at waist level – Try to keep your hands at waist level, right about where they might lightly brush your hip. Your arms should be at a 90 degree angle. Some beginners tend to hold their hands  up by their chest, especially as they get tired. You’ll start to feel tightness and tension in your shoulders and neck resulting in you feeling more tired.
  • Relax your arms – As you run, keep your arms and hands as relaxed as possible. You can gently cup your hands, as if you are holding an egg and you don’t want to break it. Don’t clench your fists because it can lead to tightness in the arms, shoulders, and neck.  But you also don’t want to flap your hands around wasting energy either.
  • Posture – Keep your posture straight and erect. Your head should be up, your back straight, and shoulders level. Check your posture once in a while. When you’re tired at the end of your run, it’s common to slump over a little, which can lead to neck, shoulder, and lower-back pain.
  • Relax your shoulders – Your shoulders should be relaxed and square – facing forward, not hunched over. Rounding the shoulders too far forward tends to tighten the chest resulting in restrict  your breathing.
  • Move arms from the shoulder – Your arms should swing back and forth from your shoulder joint, not your elbow joint.
  • Don’t bounce – Try to keep your stride low to the ground. Too much up-and-down movement is wasted energy and can be hard on your lower body. The higher you lift yourself off the ground, the greater the shock you have to absorb when landing and the faster your legs will fatigue.
The best advice is to run and see what in natural for you.  I have read articles about elite athletes that break some of the above mentions tips.  Some Olympic runners have been video taped during their runs to study their form.  What they find could be amazing but they  have found a way to accommodate the form mistakes and still win.  So remember there is no true perfect form just tips that may help.
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