Running form is commonly being discussed and debated in the running world today. But how will you know what is the appropriate running form? Here are some useful tips on better running form to be more efficient and therefore reduce your likelihood of injury.
5 Tips for better running form
1. Running Posture:
- Stand tall with torso upright with toes pointing outwards.
- Shoulders should be low and relaxed.
- Run with head up and gaze ahead, don’t look down at feet.
- Elbows 90o and imagine you’re carrying a potato chip in each hand without crushing it.
2. Optimal Cadence:
- Ideally your foot should be striking the floor 180 per min.
- This reduces your ground contact time and reduces injury risk.
- Less time on the ground, mean less energy needed to propel forward thus making you more efficient.
- To calculate, count your right foot strike for 20s and multiply by 6.
- Run light and avoid pounding.
3. Avoid heel striking:
- Heel striking is simply explained as your hips behind your feet.
- Slow cadence is often linked with heel-striking.
- Heel striking makes it very difficult to push off because your foot is in front of your hips. Your hips should be over your feet in order to propel forward.
- Heel striking and over striding lead to breaking and increases risk of injury.
- Mid foot landing is optimal for running, so attempt to land more midfoot rather than heel or forefoot. Forefoot running can lead to strained calves or Achilles injuries.
4. Increase joint mobility:
- Decreased range of motion at a joint can limit your speed, reducing your cadence thus increasing risk of injury.
- If there is a restriction in mobility in the lower limb when running, then there is a higher risk of injury.
- Full mobility is needed to run fast and efficiently.
- Joints that need full range motion for running are: the thoracic spine, the hips and the ankles.
- Momentum is important in running in order to propel you forward. This can be achieved through forward lean.
- If you lean from your ankles without bending at the waist you generate increased momentum when running.
- This allows you to use gravity to your advantage and propel you forward and minimises bouncing up and down during running.
- Flexing at the ankle reduces the unnecessary strain caused during toe off.
Exercises to do to improve your running form:
- Posture: Clasp hands and reach overhead to try to reset posture prior to running. Stand up against a wall with heels against the wall and try keep head, spine and heels against the wall.
- Cadence: Calculate your cadence and try to increase it to between 170-180 strides per min whilst taking shorter and lighter strides.
- Midfoot: March on the spot with emphasis on midfoot landing underneath your hips rather than in front.
- Mobility: work on some running specific mobility exercises to mobilise the thoracic spine, hips and ankles before your run, but focus on static muscle stretches after your run.
- Lean: work on ankle mobility exercises to increase the range of motion. Then practice leaning your body weight forward in a straight line whilst standing.
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