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Simple Tips to Improve Your Running Form

Check Yourself: Running-Form To-Do List

Running can be difficult to love 24/7. If your affection for running wanes, one thing that helps bring back the love is perfecting your technique. When out for a run, go through this simple list to check your form. Focusing on your body and how it moves will not only keep you from getting bored, it can also help you avoid injury.

  • Land midfoot, not on the heel: Striking the pavement with your heel naturally puts on the brakes, which slows you down and leaves you prone to injury since it's jarring. Not convinced? Read more about heel striking here.
  • Keep your ankles relaxed and pick your feet up: Bringing the heel toward the bum to activate the hamstrings is a good thing, rather than pushing the ground away which causes muscles to fatigue more quickly, especially the calf.
  • Shorten your stride: It's easier on your knees.
  • Lean slightly forward: The lean should start at your ankles, not your waist, since bending in the middle can cause back strain.

To see what you should be doing with your upper body while running, just keep reading.

  • Keep your low abs engaged: Feel your deep abs, about two inches below your navel, pulling toward your spine to help keep your pelvis and lumbar spine more stable.
  • Make your torso active: Lift your ribcage up and forward to help those above-mentioned low abs engage — they can be lazy. This lifting action helps create support for your torso as your pelvis and legs move you forward.
  • Keep your hands relaxed: Imagine you're holding a handful of potato chips in each hand. Make a soft fist, but don't squeeze (and crush your chips!), which creates unnecessary tension all the way up your arms toward your neck and shoulders.
  • Swing your arms forward and back: Ditch the arms swinging across the body action; it wastes energy. Your hands shouldn't cross the midline of your body. Also keep your elbows bent to 90 degrees.
  • Keep your shoulders relaxed and down: A nice, deep exhale will help them fall away from your ears.
  • Look straight ahead: Looking down at the ground closes your throat, making it harder to breathe, and isn't breathing already hard enough when running?
Image Source: Thinkstock
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Join The Conversation
peachiemoon peachiemoon 3 years
great reminders thanks!
Aride89 Aride89 4 years
I tend to squeeze my hands and not know when I'm doing it. ugh its frustrating I wanna be a good runner but even after trying for a year Im not great.
bjeanne18 bjeanne18 4 years
Eww the egg thing is funny lol I am constantly trying to remind myself to let my shoulders relax - I always tense up!
pamelabacan pamelabacan 6 years
i always look down. good reminder
Modus-Vivendi Modus-Vivendi 6 years
I have a hard time with my shoulders. I'm always scrunching them up.
TidalWave TidalWave 6 years
thanks cko! I do think about holding a chip or an egg or something fragile to keep my hands from clenching into tight fists while running - but i never thought about it the other way, to keep my arms apart. I will try that!
cko444 cko444 6 years
TidalWave, a good tip (if a bit goofy), is to pinch your fingers together (forefinger, middle finger and thumb) as if you are holding a potato chip in each hand. Your goal is to "not break the chip" while running, keeping arms at chest level...This mental trick helps me keep my arms from dragging too low or crossing my body. Hope that makes sense.
lydialee_home lydialee_home 6 years
Great tips! It's too late to change for my run this weekend, but I will work on that after.
TidalWave TidalWave 6 years
my arms are the culprit of my poor form. its so difficult for me to keep them going front-to-back; they always end up crossing my body!
runningesq runningesq 6 years
honestly, I just run. If I think too much about breathing/ foot striking/ form/ etc. it ruins the run for me. Unless you are injury prone (or suffering from an injury), my advice is to just get out there and run. the best advice? Run a lot. mostly slow. sometimes fast.
michlny michlny 6 years
"Keep your ankles relaxed and pick up your feet rather than pushing the ground away, which will cause muscles to fatigue more quickly." Confused by this one???
chloe-bella chloe-bella 6 years
I was just going to say the same thing, runningesq! Also, midfoot striking actually involves your heel and midfoot landing on the ground simultaneously; when your heel doesn't hit the ground at all, that's called a "forefoot strike," which is something different. It's hard to explain, but you can see midfoot strike pictures on the chi running website: http://www.chirunning.com/shop/pages.php?pageid=2
runningesq runningesq 6 years
be careful, though, about changing your running form too abruptly --- can lead to injury.
mamasitamalita mamasitamalita 6 years
great reminders, I'm sure you could turn these into some kind of chant while you're running, like doing rosary almost :)
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