If you’ve ever tried running as a workout, rather than a desperate jog to catch the last bus home, then you probably noticed you had some good days, when everything went smoothly, and some rough days where no matter what you did running was hard.
If you ask professional runners what they feel is most important in order to build better running habits, and to make each workout easier, most of them will talk about form. But what does this refer to?
Form is the way in which you hold your body up while you run, the way in which your arms move on your sides and the way in which you feet land on the ground as you take one step after the other. The reason why running form is important is because it can greatly influence the effort you need to undertake in order to move your entire body from one place to the other. The better your form, the more efficient your running, and therefore the better your performance.
What To Know To Improve Your Running Form
Let’s have a look at a few things you should keep in mind if you want to improve your running form:
1. Keep Your Back Straight And Look Ahead
Remember when you first learned how to ride a bike, everyone kept telling you to stop looking at the wheel and look up front instead? Well now you have the best wheels available, and they’re wearing Nikes. Basically it’s the same with running as it was with your first bike, and your shoes are the last thing you should be staring at. The reason is that if you look at the ground, you tend to curb your spine and put extra pressure on it. Keep in mind that running is a repetitive action, so the strain on your spine would be thump-thump-thump for a few minutes, and discomfort is bound to set in sooner than you expect it. This of course is eliminated if you take care to just look ahead, and keep your back straightened into a more natural position.
2. Careful With That Heel Strike
Most of us have seen the typical runner on television: some guy making looooong steps, landing firmly on concrete, heel-first, getting past that finish line into a cheering crowd that loves them for winning whatever race was going on. Well, whoever writes TV scripts generally doesn’t know much about actual runners. If you study those who have been running for a while, you will see that most of them land on the middle of their foot. That way, they reduce the impact of landing on the hard surface of the track, and therefore protect their knees.
3. Stiff Upper Body
While it’s true that your legs are the superstars of any jogging session, there is that one character in the background whose actions influence your entire experience: your hands. It seems a bit counterintuitive to focus on your hands when your feet are doing most of the work, but if you’re not careful with the way you move them (or not), you might throw yourself off balance and ruin your run. Always keep your arms and shoulders relaxed- nothing speaks more loudly of improper running form that sore upper body muscles after a run. Try to keep your hands below your chest level, and remember there’s no need to sucker-punch the air in front of you. Just casually sliding them on each side of your body will do, otherwise you’ll ruin your momentum.
Got any other tips on how to improve your running form? Make sure to share them in the comment section below.