How to Perfect Your Running Form

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Bad running form can put undesirable stress on the joints and muscles and cause soreness and frustration.

runningform

In this episode of the Marathon Training Academy podcast Angie deals with how to perfect your running form so that you can run comfortably and safely.  In the quick tip segment, she spills the beans about one of the great websites she uses to research topics for the show.

Having good form can save energy and decrease the chance of common running injuries. 

If you are a new runner it is important to learn good running posture so that you don’t pick up any bad habits.  If you’ve been running a while, be sure to evaluate your running form to see if there are areas that need improvement. 

Let’s take a look at each body part directly involved in running. . .

 By “running form” I mean the position of your body as you run.  Here are some tips to help you perfect your form.

  • Head – Good running posture starts with your head.  Let your gaze guide you as you look ahead and scan the horizen.  Imagine that you’re a marionette puppet and a string is coming out of the top of your head pulling it up. 
  • Shoulders – Keep your shoulders low, loose, and level.  They shouldn’t dip with each stride or feel tense or tight.  If you feel tension starting or your shoulders creaping toward your ears, let your arms hang loosely at your sides and shake out the tension.
  • Arms and Hands – Your hands control the tension in your upper body, so don’t clench your hands in fists.  Let your fingers lightly touch your palms (imagine carrying a potato chip in each hand).  Elbows should be bent at 90 degrees and should swing forward and back.  Don’t drive your arms forward as you run, drive them backward.
  • Torso – Keep your back straight and upright to increase lung capacity and maintain a slight forward lean (should start from your ankles).  Your upper body should be in balance with your legs and hips.
  • Hips – Your hips are your center of gravity.  Point your hips straight ahead and if your torso is correctly aligned then your hips will follow suit.
  • Legs – Distance running requires a slight knee lift, a short stride, and quick leg turnover.  This will create fluidity and avoid wasting energy.  Your feet should land directly under hips with knee slightly flexed as the foot hits the ground.  If you have proper knee lift it will feel like you are driving the knee forward and not upward.  Overstriding decreases speed and efficiency and puts stress on your knees, hips, and back.
  • Ankles and Feet –  Your foot should hit the ground lightly (not slap or pound the ground) between heel and midfoot toward the outside of your foot and roll quickly forward as you push off with your big toe.  The ankle will be flexed as the foot rolls forward to push off.  You should feel your calf muscles propelling you forward without bobbing up and down.  Beware of “overpronation” when your foot rolls too much during the landing and pushoff phase and puts too much stress on the foot.  It can be caused by weak muscles in the lower body or stride problems. 

Take Action:  Now it’s time to evaluate your form.  Head over to about.com and watch this short video on proper running form.

Also, post a comment below and tell us what you think about this episode.  Happy Running!

5 Responses to How to Perfect Your Running Form

  1. Delores Danzer March 31, 2010 at 9:08 pm #

    Hi Angie. This was great information. I have wondered about form in running. I will be reading this information again and getting out to try it. Thanks for all the helpful advice. I certainly need it.

    • Angie April 1, 2010 at 8:17 pm #

      Thanks for the comment. I’m always happy to equip a fellow runner.

    • Bobbe November 11, 2014 at 6:56 am #

      Super jazzed about getting that knhowo-w.

  2. Delores Danzer April 6, 2010 at 4:03 pm #

    Angie,
    I remembered most of the information you shared on form when I ran on Monday and it made a tremendous difference. It was the easiest 3 miles yet. I used to clench my fists and my shoulders were tense. Not this time. I felt like I could run farther. Thank you so much for these tips. They work 🙂

  3. Tamzin Sharma April 21, 2010 at 6:22 am #

    Hi Angie, I have just listened to your pod cast on running form…Thank you so much, I will put all the tips into practice when I run tomorrow. Thanks!

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