When we maintain good body position—head over shoulders, shoulders over hips, hips over the mid-foot upon landing and arms swinging directly ahead—we run with good form and use less energy to run faster. If your arms, shoulders or back hurt or feel tense during training, you need a form adjustment. New runners can learn proper running form by avoiding “zipper lines” and “chicken wings” while “holding chips.” These three easy visual cues are telltale signs that running form is breaking down. Fortunately, when we listen to our bodies and recognize these inefficiencies, each faulty habit is easily corrected.
Here are a few tips for good running form which will prevent injuries and expedite recovery of muscles :
- Mind – Don’t overthink it. Your body was built to run, let it be a reflex.
- Eyes – Look ahead with your eyes and head up. Looking down means you’re likely leaning forward, which increases the load on your lower back and can lead to injury. Eyes up improves your posture and ability to breath, and keeps you tuned into your surroundings.
- Jaw – Keep you jaw relaxed and mouth open. This way you’ll breath through your nose and mouth, translating to better oxygen delivery in and carbon dioxide out to power your body through the sun.
- Shoulders – Consciously drop and relax your shoulders. Tense shoulders are a waste of energy and won’t help you cover ground.
- Hands – Lightly cup your hands and imagine you’re holding a potato chip between your thumb and forefinger. Less energy spent on keeping muscles tense means more energy to spring ahead.
- Posture – Hold yourself upright and don’t bend at the waist. When you’re hunched over, you can’t breathe as easily since your chest isn’t open, and poor posture restricts blood flow to your muscles, making it harder to run. Balanced, tall posture also ensures your hip flexors and abductors are functioning in their most optimal position, minimising the risk of injury.
- Feet – The jury’s out on how your feet should strike the ground, research doesn’t show conclusive evidence for whether runners are better off with a mid foot strike, heel strike, or forefoot strike. There is not right way to run for everyone and trying to adopt your gait pattern could lead to injury. Instead of focusing on how your foot hits to ground, home in on how often your feet touch down. Increasing your cadence is one of the best ways to ensure you’re striking the ground in the most efficient way for your body while also diminishing your chance of injuries.
- Ankles – Lean forward at your ankles instead of your waist. It helps propel you forward more efficiently pushing you along.