Running can be a great form of exercise if done correctly. From casual runners who enjoy hitting the pavement for an occasional heart-revving workout to more serious competitors who set their sights on finishing faster or completing longer distances with ease, running technique is something that should not be ignored.
Correct running technique not only helps you run faster, longer and more efficiently, but it also helps you avoid experiencing pain or getting injured. Here are some tips for improving how you run:
Run tall and keep your head centered between your shoulders with your eyes looking out ahead of you so your head stays high. Keep your shoulders, neck and jaw relaxed. Many runners have a tendency to lean forward, but the forward lean should come from the ankles, not from the waist. Instead, just focus on running tall and the forward lean should happen naturally.
How your foot strikes the ground can make a difference in your speed and whether or not you’ll get injured. Aim to strike the ground from heel to toe. Also pay attention to your stride. Many runners overstride, touching the ground ahead of the hips. This sends too much impact up your leg. You should be striking the ground directly underneath your hips.
Keep your arms bent comfortably and relaxed. As you run, swing your arms in an arc between your chest and waist. When you pump your arms faster, it will help your legs move faster as well.
The most ideal way to breathe when you run is deeply, from the abdomen. This utilizes your diaphragm most efficiently.
Tune into your body
Pay attention to what your body is doing when you run and how it feels. Then experiment with small adjustments to your form and technique. By doing this, you’re likely to find what works and doesn’t work to improve your running efficiency.
Address muscle imbalances
Irregularities in running stride are often due to muscle imbalances. And most people today have weak or tight muscles as a result of sitting so much throughout the day. To address these imbalances, you’ll need to perform strengthening and mobility exercises. Working with a physical therapist or running specialist can provide you with professional advice designed to help you improve specific muscle and joint imbalances properly.
Work with a coach you trust
There’s a lot of advice floating around online and in magazines about how to run and what to do when you want to improve your form. There are also a number of different methods with varying recommendations. The best way to improve your running technique is to work one-on-one with an experienced running coach. He or she can analyze your current form, muscle imbalances, strengths and weaknesses and then provide you with advice that is personalized to fit your natural stride, body shape and body mechanics.
Improving running technique should not be a one-size-fits-all approach. If you’re going to make changes to your technique that stick and really make a difference in your level of performance, it’s a good idea to make sure the advice is tailored specifically to you.
At Orthology, we offer a variety of running services designed to help you improve your technique, increase efficiency and prevent injury. Contact us to schedule an appointment for a professional running analysis or to meet with one of our running specialists.