Running seems like it should just come naturally, but as with any sport, proper form can make a big difference. In addition to improving your performance, the right form can help you to reduce the risk of becoming injured. Use these five expert tips for a proper running form.
1. Keep Your Head Up
The correct running technique starts at the very top. You’ll need to keep your head up to avoid poor posture. Look straight ahead so your chin doesn’t tilt up or down, and keep your ears in line with your shoulders (don’t run “head-first”). This keeps the neck in proper alignment with the spine. If you allow your chin to tilt and shoulders to hunch over, it will affect your gait and leave you feeling sore afterward. Overall, maintain good posture throughout the run to achieve the proper running form through your head, shoulders and torso.
2. Arms at Your Sides
One issue that can slow runners down is poor form in the arms. Your elbows shouldn’t point out to the sides and your arms shouldn’t cross in front of your body. Instead, your arms should move along the sides of your torso straight up and down, with elbows close to your sides and bent at a 90-degree angle. This helps to propel you forward as you run. Keep your hands relaxed; clenched fists waste valuable energy!
3. Go Hands-Free
Speaking of hands, carrying items in your hands can throw off your running gait. Even using some accessories, like arm bands designed to carry a phone, don’t distribute the weight evenly and can start to make you feel uncomfortable during your run.
To maintain proper running form, make sure you go hands-free. If you do need to carry any accessories, use a running belt that minimizes bounce while distributing weight evenly at the center of your body. The FlipBelt is a great option because it eliminates chafing and can accommodate a variety of items, such as phones, water bottles, keys, credit cards or even a running light.
4. Absorb Shock on Impact
Pay close attention to how your foot lands each time it hits the ground. Ideally, your foot should be right under the knee, with your skin at a perpendicular angle to the ground. This form distributes the shock that occurs on impact through multiple joints (the ankle, knee and hip) all at once so one joint isn’t disproportionately affected, and it also helps to create energy.
5. Propel Forward with Your Feet
The way your move you feet should help you to propel forward on your runs. You want to avoid running on your toes and striking with your heel, both of which can lead to injury. You should land on the ball of the foot for the most energy-efficient and safe movement.
Keep these tips in mind as you run to make sure you have a proper running technique. With enough practice, it will feel effortless and you’ll start to see improvements both in your comfort level and your performance.