A proper running form can help you run more comfortably, faster, and more efficiently. All that while reducing the stress on your body and decreasing the risk of injury. If you are looking to improve your running posture, it’s important to take a step back and look at your current running habits and make any adjustments and corrections.
If you’ve been in the running game for quite some time, chances are, you may have picked up a few poor habits that may be hard to break because they feel natural. No worries, good things take time. Getting better at running experience is not going to be an overnight miracle. It’ll take time and practice. To help you in this endeavor, we’ve put together these tips to help you achieve your proper running form.
How to Run Properly
Keep Your Head Straight
Do not stare at your feet! Your eyes should be directed about 10 to 20 feet ahead of you. Looking ahead and not down at your feet is safer because you see what’s coming, and you can avoid stumbling. The minute movements matter as well. Is your head projecting ahead as you run? Doing so puts a lot of stress on your shoulder muscles as well as your neck, which will often lead to tension. To correct this bad posture, hold your head straight so that your ears are right over your shoulders.
Watch Where You Keep Your Hands
Good running form comes to those who remember the little things. Keep your hands at waist level, close enough so that they might slightly graze your hip. Try to keep your arms bent at a 90-degree angle. Some novices tend to hold their hands way up by their torso. You may get even more tired faster doing it that way, and you’ll start to feel the tension in your shoulders and neck.
Relax Your Hands
Proper running form is all about conserving and redistributing energy. As you run, try to keep your hands (and arms) as relaxed as you can. As hard as it is, avoid clenching your fists. By clenching your hands, the tension moves to your shoulders and neck. The result, you’ll get tired much faster than you normally would with relaxed hands.
Tip: As you run, imagine you’re holding an egg in your hands that you don’t want to break.
Your Posture Is Everything
Try to keep your posture as straight as possible. Head up, back straight, and shoulders level. Always monitor your posture if engaged in long-distance runs. When you’re tired, you naturally slump over a little, which can lead to lower back pain. An easy way to do this is when you feel yourself slouching, pick yourself up, and poke your chest out.
Keep Your Shoulders Relaxed
You breathe a lot easier when your shoulders are relaxed. Rounding the shoulders too far ahead tends to compress the chest and restrict proper breathing. As always, it’s up to you to monitor this as you run. Make sure that your shoulders are not shrugged up close to your ears. Every time you feel yourself slouching, press your shoulder blades together on your back. Hold them in that position and let your shoulders drop. Regularly monitor the position of your shoulders to make sure they are straight and relaxed. Repeat as necessary.
Your Arms Should Be at Your Side
Avoid side-to-side swinging! If your arms crisscross over your torso, you’re more likely to slouch, meaning you’re not breathing as freely as you should be. Shallow breathing can lead to side stitches or cramps. If you notice your hands start to move up towards your shoulders, allow your arms to drop back by your sides. Reposition them at the ideal 90-degree angle with your shoulders straight and relaxed.
Rotate Your Arms From the Shoulder
When you’re running, your arms should swing from your shoulder joint, not your elbow joint. Push your elbow backward, and then let it swing back to you. Your hand should be slightly grazing your hip as your arm swings back and forth.
If you bounce when you run, it’s time to change that. The vertical oscillation occurs when your head and body are moving up and down too much, wasting a lot of energy. The higher you raise yourself off the ground, the greater the shock upon landing, and the quicker your legs will tire.
Tips: To reduce bounce and conserve energy, try to land softly on your feet as you run. Take short, light steps, as if you were stepping on lava.
Additional Tips to Your Proper Running Form
To help you avoid injury as you improve your running form, we’ve taken the liberty of adding a few more useful tips for you to keep in mind:
- Increase movement and flexibility in your hips and ankles to decrease tension in your low back as well as your knees.
- Increase the number of steps per minute. Doing so puts less tension on your body, therefore, saving you lots of energy.
- Progressively raise the intensity and duration of your runs. Increase your speed and distance over time.
- Give yourself time to recover! Take a break if you have muscle pains.
- Wear appropriate running sneakers. Stay away from shoes that are too cushioned. If you are an avid runner, consider replacing your shoes frequently.
With these useful tips in mind, improving your running form is only a matter of time and dedication. Nailing the perfect running form isn’t complicated if your head is in the game. Follow these tips and make some necessary adjustments, and you will see yourself experience the pleasure and benefits of running in a whole new light.
If you are experiencing pain that might be associated with your running form, take a break, and consider getting advice from your physical therapist. They will assess your pain, inspect for potential injuries, and recommend the next steps to recovery.