In most sports and exercises, having the correct form and technique is critical in not only performing to your highest standards but also for reducing or eliminating injuries. But, did you know that the same concept for form stands for running as well? We might not think much about it actually, especially as beginner runners. We lace-up sneakers, throw some headphones on and hit the trail or treadmill. However, proper form is paramount in a sport like running, even though every one of us will have a different style of movement.
The thing is, it can be easy to spot form discrepancies in sports like weight lifting or group exercise classes since an instructor is usually watching, guiding and providing technique cues. With a sport like running, it’s more challenging to have someone point out incorrect techniques unless you have a running coach!
Everyone will have a somewhat different technique when running – after all, we can’t all run exactly the same. With different body shapes and sizes – there are a few form tips that you can utilize the next time you’re pounding the pavement or cruising on the treadmill in order to perform to the best of your ability. Even more so, to eliminate or reduce the chances of injury!
Correct Head Posture While Running
Let’s start our form check, working from the top down – beginning with your head. Since most of us are sitting all day long and probably looking down, thanks to those smartphones, our head is going to naturally want to track forward while we run. This is going to put pressure on the upper back and neck. Even if you’re running on a trail – and let’s face it, we need to glance down every now and then to avoid tripping on roots and rocks – glance down with your eyes, and not your entire head. Do your best to keep your head neutral; ideally, you want your ears right in line with your shoulders while you run, and not forward.
Shoulds, Arms, And Hand Positioning While Running
Next comes your shoulders, arms, and hands. You don’t want to end up wasting too much precious energy by keeping your hands close to your chest or letting them flail all over while you’re moving. Shoulders should be down and back, pretend like you’re trying to hold a one-dollar bill between your shoulder blades. The goal is to keep your elbows near your sides, with arms bent around a 90-degree angle. Your hands should be relaxed, and not in a tight fist, which will just end up tensing up your entire upper body as your run. If you need a recheck of these tips while you’re running, that’s ok!
Core Posture While Running
Once your upper body is aligned, focus on what’s happening with your core. Days spent sitting at a desk hunched over can definitely have posture ramifications while running. You’ll likely want to round forward a bit, but try not to! Keep your core engaged while your run, maintaining a neutral spine and standing tall. There will be a slight lean forward when you run, and this is necessary when you start moving to help you keep going forward. However, a good majority of this lean comes from the ankles, so don’t think you have to purposefully lean forward from your torso to move.
Correct Foot Positioning While Running
Lastly, your feet! How your foot strikes the ground can certainly be a long-winded debate, and everyone will be different. You might strike on your heel, or on the ball of your foot, or even land flat-footed. While the strike can be modified over time, you might almost find yourself in a better position to get some good running shoes that fit your foot shape and overall foot stride. Whichever way you land while you run, you want your body to be right over your foot – that way, you can absorb the impact appropriately.
These are just a few of the tips that you can use to improve your running form…. just remember, if you’re going to make some changes, be patient, and implement them slowly to decrease the risk of injury from trying some new techniques too quickly. So long as you are comfortable and have no injuries while you run, you’ll be less concerned with how your stride looks in the long run!