If you want to elevate your running, it’s important to take a look at your running form and make any necessary adjustments and improvements. This will help reduce chance of injury, increase speed, and boost efficiency.
Your running gait plays a vital role in the many health benefits of running. It enables you to run longer distances at a greater intensity with less pain and discomfort.
There are specific form techniques to follow that may differ slightly due to variations in body mechanics. Take into account the distance and speed you want to run, as well as any relevant injuries or physical areas of concern.
Bear in mind that you may have picked up bad habits along the way that may be difficult to break because they feel familiar. That’s OK! It’s worth it to go through a bit of discomfort or unfamiliarity to get your form down and enhance your running experience.
Below are a few suggestions for improving your running form to boost your running economy, improve performance, and lower your risk for injury.
Jogging may have a slower pace than running, but it still boasts a range of health benefits. Here’s how to maximize your jogging workouts:
- While jogging, maintain good posture, engage your core, and gaze forward.
- Avoid tilting your head down and slumping your shoulders.
- Broaden your chest, and keep it lifted as you draw your shoulders down and back.
- Keep your hands loose, and use a relaxed arm swing. Avoid crossing your arms in front of your body.
- To prevent injuries to your lower body, use a midfoot strike, and avoid hitting the ground with your heel. This allows your foot to land directly under your hip as you drive your body forward. A heel strike may cause your leg to slow down your stride and stress your knees.
The high intensity action of sprinting requires a lot of muscle activation and explosive force as you develop a powerful stride. Consider these tips:
- Slightly lean forward from your waist while engaging your core.
- Lift your chest, soften your shoulders, and draw them away from your ears.
- Use short, fast strides to conserve energy.
- To reduce your chance of injury, land softly and quietly with minimal impact.
- Use a forefoot strike, and propel yourself forward from your toes. With each step, lift your thigh so it’s parallel to the ground.
- Bend your elbows at a 90-degree angle and draw them straight back and forth, using an exaggerated movement and moving them through a wider range of motion than when you jog.
- Raise your hands as high as your chin and back toward your low back.
- Avoid rotating your torso and bringing your arms across the midline of your body.
On a treadmill
Running on a treadmill is an option if you want to reduce the impact on your joints and prevent overuse injuries.
A treadmill allows you to run at a smooth, steady pace without any hinderances or necessary stops. This allows you to focus solely on your form.
Consider these tips:
- Draw your shoulders back and engage your core as you slightly lean forward.
- Maintain an erect spine. Keep your shoulders directly above your hips.
- Relax your arms, gaze straight ahead, and avoid looking down or at the monitor.
- Use a short stride, and take small steps.
- Running on a treadmill will force you to shorten your stride since overstriding will cause you to kick the front of the treadmill.
- Unless you have concerns with balance, avoid hanging on to the rails as you run.
Use an appropriate stride for your running speed. Land gently; avoid pounding your foot as you land, which helps prevent injuries.
The correct foot strike will also help improve your running economy so you’re using less energy while enhancing your speed.
Here’s how to look after your feet:
- Land with control, using a smooth, even foot strike.
- To avoid lower extremity injuries, use a forefoot strike, which utilizes more muscle activation when you land.
- A midfoot strike helps propel your body forward.
- Avoid striking with your heels. This can slow you down and stress your knees.
- Maintain normal or neutral pronation of your feet by rolling your feet inward slightly. This allows your feet to properly absorb the shock of landing while keeping your lower body in alignment.
Improve your form by doing key exercises to lengthen and strengthen the muscles involved in running:
- Include core exercises, such as glute bridges and side planks, to improve strength, balance, and stability while lowering your chance of injury and overuse.
- To protect your knees from injury, strike your foot directly under your knee instead of in front of it, which can also be the result of overstriding. This is particularly important when running downhill.
- Maintain a tall, erect spine, and lengthen out through the crown of your head. Do head and neck exercises to build the strength necessary to maintain good posture and a forward gaze.
- Coordinate your breathing to align with the rhythm of your feet. This helps maintain a relaxed posture, reduce muscle tension, and efficiently use energy.
- Bend your elbows at a 90-degree angle, and swing your arms from your shoulders forward and backward while keeping your hands relaxed.
- Avoid crossing your arms across your torso or twisting your upper body.
- Slightly lean your chest forward to help propel your body forward.
- Press up and forward from the ground behind you with each step.
Here are a few more tips to help you avoid injury as you work on your form:
- Improve mobility and flexibility in your hips and ankles to reduce injuries in your low back and knees.
- Increase your number of steps per minute to put less stress on your body.
- Gradually increase the duration, intensity, and frequency of your runs. Build up your speed and mileage over time. Remember, results take time.
- Take a break for an appropriate length of time if you have muscle pain or injuries, especially if they’re recurring or long lasting.
- See a physical therapist if you have any injuries. They can treat your injury, identify the cause of it, and help you make the necessary corrections to prevent it from recurring.
- Talk to your doctor if you’re new to exercise, have any physical concerns, or take medications that could interfere with your running program.
- Wear appropriate running shoes. Avoid shoes that are too cushioned. Replace your shoes often.
Working one-on-one with a fitness expert offers many benefits. Everyone from recreational to professional runners can benefit from working with a running pro for at least a few sessions.
A dedicated professional can help you create an individualized routine to achieve your goals while helping you establish consistency, motivation, and accountability.
Plus, a running professional will be on your side, rooting you on and helping you celebrate your success.
It’s especially beneficial if you’re new to fitness or running or have any concerns with your body, especially in terms of alignment, body mechanics, or previous injury.
Research from 2015 points to the effectiveness of receiving visual or auditory feedback to improve running gait to minimize your risk for injury.
Whether you’re looking in a mirror, watching a video, or receiving verbal cues, feedback is key to enhancing your form.
An exercise professional can support the development and maintenance of correct form and break any bad habits you may have developed. They can help you improve your endurance and reduce your risk for injury.
A fitness pro can ensure you’re staying safe by helping you properly warm up and cool down and avoid pushing yourself too much. They can also help you develop a healthy eating plan and figure out what to eat before and after you run.
Improving your running form is one of the best ways to take your running to the next level.
Stick to your running program to see the best results. Bring awareness to your posture throughout the day as you move through all of your activities. Work on developing core strength to support your running form.