Running with the correct form can make you run faster, run for longer and also help you avoid any injuries. There are many common injuries that can occur from running ranging from shin splints to hamstring tears / ligament damage.
Below are a 5 tips on how to improve your running style.
It is important to remember to warm up before every run. This is crucial to warm up your joints and muscles. This is to prepare your body for the physical activity and to reduce the chances of any muscular / tendons strain or injuries. Cooling down after a run helps to reduce your heart rate gradually, and begins to relax your muscles whilst you stretch them out. This will help flush away lactic acid build up and help reduce the muscle tightness that follows, keeping your fit and healthy for your next run or walk.
1. Warm up and Cool down
- Having stretched and loose muscles will help with your mobility and increase the range of motion your joints will go through. This will help your body flow through the movements and reduce risk of injury.
2. Your upper body position
- When you are running, you want to be in a nice upright position, with a slight forward lean, have your head up and looking forwards and have your shoulders relaxed and sitting low. When you are in this position, it allows you to obtain optimal lung capacity and help you push forwards on every stride. Both of these will result in the improvement of your running efficiency. Having the correct upper body position will also help you manage your stride length too.
3. Your shoulders, arms, hands
- Although running is a lower body working exercise, it does not mean your arms and hands aren't involved. Your arms control your upper body when you are running, but they also work in conjunction with your legs by helping you drive forwards on every step. What we want to avoid is: Shrugged shoulders, high arms and clenched fists. If your running style involves any of these, it means you're using up energy for no reason. By doing so, you are causing tension within your upper body. If your upper body is tense, it will limit your movement as well as the fluidity of your movements too. The moment / position you want is: your shoulders sitting low and relaxed, your hands to be brushing your hips when they move through and you hands to be in a relaxed, clenched position, but you want your fingers to be gently sitting on your palms, not squeezing tightly. If you are to correct these, your running efficiency will improve as you won't be wasting any of your energy on keeping your upper body muscles tense and contracted.
4. Running strides
- Your stride depends on the distance you are running. Sprinters will focus on long & powerful strides with high, explosive knees to optimise explosiveness on every push off. Long distance runners however, do not focus on high knees or long strides. This is because it is very hard to maintain over a longer distance as it requires a lot of energy, and explosive muscular strength/endurance. Instead, if you are to be running longer distances, you should focus on smaller strides and having a slight bend in the knee. This will allow you to keep your tempo, keep your body aligned and improve your running efficiency as you can manage your breathing and respiratory system. There is no need to take long strides as it will exert a lot of unnecessary energy.
5. Don't bounce. Control your body
- If you are bouncing your shoulders, head or bounce from side to side, this is known as oscillation and it means you are using a lot of energy, for no reason. This wasn't energy can be saved and used in the correct way which can lead to either faster times or longer distance. Avoiding the bounce will also protect your muscles and joints a bit more too. The more control you have, the better!
Check these out when you are running and see if you need to correct anything. It takes time and practice, so do not get frustrated if you cannot correct it immediately.