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Running Form Mistakes

8 Running Mistakes to Avoid

Running is a great form of cardio, and easy to start — lace up your sneakers and go. To help you hit the ground running in 2012, we're giving away Asics sneakers for a year; enter here!


There is a technique to running, though, and here are eight common mistakes many runners make. Improper form and bad technique can slow you down, make running more difficult, and lead to injuries, which can keep you off the road. Avoid these running no-nos.

  1. Bouncing up and down too much: This vertical motion uses more energy, can tire you out quickly, and can also lead to knee injuries. When running, keep your feet close to the ground and focus on springing forward rather than upward.
  2. Overstriding: Some runners assume a longer stride will help them run farther in less time, but reaching out in front of your center of gravity with each step forces you to land on your heel. This jarring motion causes you to lose your forward momentum, so you end up running slower. Heel-striking could also result in knee injury.
  3. Slapping the feet loudly as you hit the ground: Pounding the pavement or treadmill immediately sends jolting pressure to the knee and hip joints, which can cause pain or injury. Be mindful about landing lightly with each step.

Keep reading to see what other errors you should avoid when running.

  1. Not using your arms: Don't let your lower body do all the work. Use your upper body to gain some power and forward momentum.
  2. Twisting your midriff side-to-side while running: This is an unnecessary movement, just like bouncing up and down too much. It uses up energy and will quickly tire you out. When swinging your arms, avoid twisting your torso.
  3. Leaning the head and upper body forward: This improper alignment will cause back and neck pain, so remember to keep your shoulders stacked over your hips.
  4. Losing control on downhills: The tendency is to lean the torso far forward and overstride to make good time on declines, but running without control causes pounding on your feet and thus, your knees. On hills, lean forward just enough so your shoulders are slightly ahead of your hips, and focus on taking short, quick strides.
  5. Jogging slower than you can walk: If you are jogging at a pace that's slower than six mph (10 minutes per mile), it might be healthier for your joints to walk. Your body can walk more efficiently and with less risk of injury at this speed.
Image Source: Thinkstock
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Join The Conversation
bonniebonnie bonniebonnie 6 years
I'm sprinting at 7.5mph and I'm 5'11! I jog at 5 mph because that's the point on the treadmill where it's moving too fast for me to walk.
sarasonne sarasonne 6 years
I've been a runner for many yrs and have learned a thing or two from many experts. There is nothing wrong with leaning slightly forward, it's actually a little more efficient b/c it gets gravity to help propel you forward. P.S. Is there ANYONE (even you fit) that can walk at 5 or 5.5 mph??? seriously.
sarasonne sarasonne 6 years
I've been a runner for many yrs and have learned a thing or two from many experts. There is nothing wrong with leaning slightly forward, it's actually a little more efficient b/c it gets gravity to help propel you forward. P.S. Is there ANYONE (even you fit) that can walk at 5 or 5.5 mph??? seriously.
Lavinie Lavinie 6 years
i agree with everyone above...the last "don't advice" for running is a really bad one... where is the reasoning behind that?!
mwmsjuly19 mwmsjuly19 6 years
Oops. I mean, 10 minute miles...I'm sure running 10 mph is something I could NEVER do!
mwmsjuly19 mwmsjuly19 6 years
I love this site, but some of the running tips have been off lately...like telling people to "break in" new running shoes or to just walk if they can't run 10 mph. Girl, please tell us where are you getting this information?
mwmsjuly19 mwmsjuly19 6 years
I love this site, but some of the running tips have been off lately...like telling people to "break in" new running shoes or to just walk if they can't run 10 mph. Girl, please tell us where are you getting this information?
Spectra Spectra 6 years
I also found the last "mistake" completely ridiculous. I'm only 5'3" and my short legs can't walk if I'm going above about 4.5 mph; I definitely have to run at that point. Why discourage slow runners? If everyone could start out being able to run fast, there'd be no beginners.
jueycruiser jueycruiser 6 years
Yeah I completely agree with the comments here that shorter people cannot WALK faster speeds. It's pretty much mathematically impossible for everybody to be the same as far as going from walking to running at X mph.This website is pretty much a motivational blog. It's best to look into the advice on any internet source before trying it yourself.
jueycruiser jueycruiser 6 years
Yeah I completely agree with the comments here that shorter people cannot WALK faster speeds. It's pretty much mathematically impossible for everybody to be the same as far as going from walking to running at X mph. This website is pretty much a motivational blog. It's best to look into the advice on any internet source before trying it yourself.
TammyO TammyO 6 years
Yeah I know I read that last one and was like WHAT??? does that mean all my 6 mile running, no matter how (5.5) slow, is a waste of time???? No way! Sometimes it's nice to slow a bit and do an easy jog.
LittleMzFit LittleMzFit 6 years
When I was in track, the coach told me to lean forward slightly. When it's windy, I always bear into the wind & lean slightly forward.
notinthemood notinthemood 6 years
I'm definitely guilty of poor form! I think the other "mistakes" were helpful... to me at least! But honestly, how does one NOT bounce or twist with a large chest?! I guess it'll be something else to work on at the gym!
runningesq runningesq 6 years
It's MUCH BETTER to start 'slow' (which is a relative term anyhow) and work your way up, distance wise -- than to run too fast and burn out
snapperdoodle snapperdoodle 6 years
I finished a half marathon running no faster than 5.5 miles an hour. I never would have completed the race if I'd been told that was "too slow". You have to start slow if you want to learn to run faster.
Sun_Sun Sun_Sun 6 years
yea the last one is ridiculous. i can;t walk faster than 4.5 but i jog at 7.5 or 8.
rivrchild rivrchild 6 years
I'm 5'1" and the fastest I can walk is maybe a mile every 13.5 minutes. But that's really only if I'm extreme power-walking, pumping arms, etc. Only recently was I able to reach my goal of jogging a 5k (3.1 mi) in under 30 minutes. Before now, I was coming in at 37 minutes, and then for a while 32. And that would mean I was jogging slower than 10 min per mile, right? Well, had I taken this article's advice. I would have never been able to beat that 30 minute goal if I hadn't kept trying. So that last point needs to be completely rethought by whoever came up with this info. Ridiculous. When I first started jogging, I focused on my endurance and distance instead of my speed, and so if I felt like I was getting too tired to keep up the faster pace I would slow down and take it easier. Then I could slowly work my way back to the faster pace.
margokhal margokhal 6 years
The last one: are you kidding?! Because you will burn more calories jogging than walking, even slowly. The extra movement is worth it. Also, I'm not a seasoned runner. I can barely jog/run 1/4 of a mile! Everybody has to start somewhere, I don't think most people just start out jogging or running 6 mph if they've never run before! Also I agree with the midriff twisting. I TOTALLY messed up my ribcage muscles doing that - 2 weeks to heal up, it was hard to breathe, hard to bend over slightly to do dishes...it just SUCKED. don't do it!
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