4 Easy Ways to Improve Your Running Form
With every sport, having the best form possible is key to good performance and can also keep athletes injury-free. Since it seems simple enough, many people forget that there is a form to running and having poor form can sideline even the best of athletes.
There’s a big difference between optimizing running form for the highest level of performance and cutting out common mistakes to decrease injury rate. Very seldom do injured runners get input on form alterations. Instead, professionals typically recommend strength exercising and stretching. Despite the idea that running form is “automatic” and tough to change, there are professionals who think it’s as easy as changing a golf swing.
Not everyone needs to see a running coach in order to make some minor tweaks to improve efficiency and prevent injuries. Here are just a few simple technique reminders any runner can work on while running to become more efficient.
- Run tall – this will ensure your entire body is aligned and balanced. A simple reminder like this one can limit your aches and pains just like reminding yourself to sit up straighter at your desk during the day can help relieve lower back and neck pain.
- Shorten your stride – this reduces the impact on your feet and legs on the ground. Longer strides can also cause “heel smashing” and excess stress with each foot strike. Shorter strides means less stress on impact and a lower likelihood of injuries like shin splints and plantar fasciitis.
- Increase your cadence – going hand in hand with a shorter stride, increasing the number of steps you take per minute puts less stress on your legs with each foot strike. Next time you’re out running, count the number of times your foot touches the ground for a full minute. According to this article, when running at a relaxed pace, your stride rate should be above 170.
- Land underneath your body – the foot should land underneath the body’s center of mass, preventing over-striding. Remind yourself that your foot should ideally land under your hips.
“The benefits of a more efficient running stride are enormous: you'll be less likely to suffer from an overuse injury, become more economical (meaning you'll use less energy to run the same pace—so you can go faster with the same effort), and ultimately be a much faster runner.” – Active.com
Some runners may benefit from working with a running coach on form. Other runners will find themselves in need of strength exercises and mobility work when things are feeling a bit off. There isn’t ever a one size fits all approach to form when it comes to running but focusing on the basics is always a good place to start. Whether you’re just taking up running or looking to get faster and more efficient, solid form will help keep you healthy and working towards your goals injury-free.