Improving Your Running Form

Sometimes the internal conversation over running form can get all too stressful.

“I need to do what with my shoulders?” “How can I possibly think about my hips when merely breathing is a struggle?” “Is my stride supposed to look like that?”

The questions and concerns can seem endless. Here are four simple tips to help you improve your running form, leading to less injury and worry.

Do not try to radically change your running form.

Trying to suddenly increase the length of your stride or otherwise drastically changing your form will only lead to a high risk of injury. That said, there are subtle ways to change your form that could make things more comfortable. In general, striking the ground with your midfoot works best for most people. If your ankles are feeling the brunt of your running, start at the midfoot and roll your foot forward, with the toes leaving the ground last. Knee problems can be caused by hitting the ground with your heel first. Achilles injuries can be a characteristic of those who land more on their forefoot. Simply focusing on a midfoot landing could lessen these problems without a major change to your overall form.

Run with your head up.

Looking at your shoes the entire way might help the run pass more quickly for some, but looking ahead could actually make things more comfortable. When you keep your head up, your back and neck will align, making neck or back pain less of a distraction.

Relax your upper body.

Stiff shoulders and clenched fists don’t do anybody any favors. Loose shoulders and hands allow you to direct more energy to the run itself, and keep things comfortable. When running, your elbows should be low and your arms should be going in a back-and-forth motion, not diagonally across your body. Your forefinger and thumb should lightly touch on another for a relaxed hand.

Do what’s comfortable!

Oftentimes we psyche ourselves out worrying about where to strike the ground and what we should be doing with our torso. Relax, everybody runs a bit differently. Find what feels most natural for you. Try taking off your shoes and running for 30 seconds. Your body naturally will find a rhythm that feels best.

The bottom line is agonizing over form is all too common an occurrence for runners. Yes, if you experience pain or discomfort while running, there may be a problem you should address. Otherwise, if you are feeling comfortable and accomplishing your goals, there’s no need to worry.

~Contributed by Elias Born