While we can all put on our favorite running shoes and spend half an hour stomping around the block, it can take a while to really learn how to run properly. Doing so can make sure that we avoid injuries.
Once you begin to run correctly, our bodies will use muscle memory to make sure that we run properly every time. It is easier to start off running this way, rather than trying to change how we run later on.
However, there is a good chance that if you are reading this then you perhaps have no idea what running correctly even means – and that is okay.
So long as you make some tweaks to your form, you will run better and no doubt for longer.
So, whether you have been running for years, or are new to doing so, we have put together 9 tips to make sure you’re running correctly.
1. Always Look Forward
When running outdoors, you may be tempted to look at the scenery and what is happening around you. You may also prefer to stare at your own feet.
However, if this is a habit you have, then you may want to stop it in order to make sure you have a good running form. In fact, the best place to look is around 15 to 20 feet in front of you.
This not only lets you be aware of what is in front of you, but it also helps you to run correctly and hold your position upright.
If you find that you jut your head forward while running, then the best thing to do is imagine your head is being held up with a piece of string, a little like a puppet.
Making sure your ears sit around the middle area of your shoulders will give you a better running form.
If you do tend to jut your head forward then it may be putting stress on the shoulder and neck muscles which could cause injury over time.
2. Land Your Feet Lightly
Sometimes when we run, or can hear a person running, often the feet make a loud bang as they hit the floor. If you are hitting your feet too hard onto the surface of the floor, then there is a chance you are increasing the risk for injury.
Making sure to keep the footfalls quiet and light is a great way to reduce the risk of muscular injuries, as well as stress fractures and so on.
A study by the British Journal of Sports and Medicine had females run 20 miles per week while analyzing their gaits while running. A force plate was used to record the overall force used when the foot hit the surface of the floor.
It showed that those with a more forceful strike to the floor reported more injuries compared to those who were light footed and had less injuries reported.
3. Do Not Bounce As You Run
Bouncing as you run, which is also referred to as vertical oscillation, is when both the body and head moves in a bouncing fashion as you run. It can waste a lot of your energy which can make you feel fatigued quite early during a run.
This is because of the fact that every time you lift your body high off the ground the force of impact on your feet is also higher.
So you will receive a bigger shock to absorb. Every time you do so, it increases the fatigue in your legs.
To aim to stop this, try to run lightly in order to have a softer landing for your feet. You will need to keep your running stride low and short. So, basically this means to make sure you have more stride turnovers per minute to decrease the bounce.
4. Relax Both Your Hands
Have you ever noticed how your hands are during a run? It is often something that we do naturally without thinking about, so the next time you are on a run, take note of the form your hands naturally take.
If you notice that you clench your hands in a tight fist, then you may be increasing the chance of having tension in the arms, the shoulders, and the neck.
If you have been feeling a few aches and pains there recently, then you will know why.
The best position to hold your hands in is always a relaxed version of the clenched fist. Let them curl up naturally without any tension.
5. Relax The Shoulders
Sometimes, especially when it is cold, we hunch our shoulders. When running you will want to make sure your shoulders are completely relaxed and facing forward.
If you find that you are hunching your shoulders over, you may not be breathing fully and properly while running, because this position can cause restrictions. Once the shoulders become relaxed, you will notice a big difference when breathing.
To try and keep your shoulder square, squeeze both the shoulder blades on your back together.
While overtime you will relax and stop squeezing the shoulder blades, it will make sure that you are running with your shoulders not hunched.
As you run, keep on checking how your shoulders are. Every time you notice that they are starting to hunch over, squeeze those shoulder blades!
6. Keep The Posture Straight
Another reason why you must avoid having your shoulders hunched over is because to run correctly and to avoid injury, you will want to make sure that your posture is erect and straight.
This means looking straight ahead, having the back up straight, and both shoulders square and level. It also helps to take note of your ears being to the middle of your shoulders, and that your pelvis stays at a neutral position.
While it is common and understandable that near the end of a run you will begin to hunch over and ignore the rules about your posture, it is still worth trying to stay upright.
Doing so will help you to avoid pain in your shoulders, back, and neck.
If you find yourself hunching over and losing good form, push your chest out to ensure that you finish your run strongly.
7. Rotate From The Shoulder
Just like with how your hands are when you run, have you ever noticed how your arms are? You should be making sure to swing both arms from the shoulder and not the elbow joint, a little like a pendulum.
Once it swings back, you will then need to bring it forward. As it comes forward, you may feel your hand brush against the side of your body.
Make sure to keep the hands swinging at the side of your body too, and avoid making them cross up against the chest area.
If they are, it might mean that you are hunching over. Keeping your body straight will ensure your hands swing alongside you.
8. Keep The Core Of The Body Tight
The core is said to be the central part of the body. Making sure it stays strong and tight enables you to avoid injury while running. It can also improve your form while running too – which obviously also helps to avoid injuries.
Just like with making sure you stay upright, pretending that you are being pulled by your belly button backwards will strengthen your core as you run. It will also go alongside keeping your body straight and erect.
Your core will also absorb shock while running too, so it needs to stay strong so as not to become injured.
The pelvis plays a role here in taking on a lot of that shock from other areas of the body. You will need to make sure it does not move too much, and instead stays stabilized.
9. Land On The Middle Of The Foot
While every single runner has their own natural foot strike, more often than not, most people land on either their heel or forefoot.
In fact, we are often told to land on our toes to avoid too much impact for a lighter tread.
However, the best place to land on your feet is the mid-foot area, which is basically the middle of the foot. While this may take some time to achieve, it is worth giving it a go to feel less impact on the legs.
If you are prone to injury while running, it could all be down to your form. Making sure you have a good running form can help you to avoid common issues such as muscular pain, tension and strains.
Just adapting the way your hands and shoulders are, avoiding bouncing too much as you stride, and looking forward can all make a big difference to your overall running technique.
If you are finding that you are picking up injuries as you run a few times around the block, or you are new to running completely, then having the right running form will not only help you to avoid injuries, but also run further.