How to Improve Your Running Form

Do you know how to run with the proper form?
by Updated January 29, 2009

Whether you are just starting to run, or you’re a seasoned runner, it’s very important to run with the proper form. Having good runners form can help to improve your speed, increase overall fitness, and even help to prevent injury. Here are some tips to work on so that you can start perfecting your distance long running form.

  1. You should run with a posture that is vertical and perpendicular to the ground. You should try to refrain from leaning forward or backward, because when you do, you are fighting the force of gravity, and that requires energy, which would be better directed at your forward motion. Your body should be straight, your head and torso, hips and ankles should all be moving forward.
  2. You need to have a relaxed body while running.  As you run, relax those muscles that are not participating in running. Relax your upper body. Also relax your face and jaw (let everything sort of jiggle when you run). You want to keep your form as relaxed and as natural as possible.
  3. Focus on your forward motion. Avoid any and all side to side motions of your hips, shoulders, arms and legs. Work on aligning everything to move forward.
  4. Arms guarantee balance and coordination while you run. You should hold your arms close to your body and let them swing like pendulums from your shoulders, keeping them loose and relaxed.  Try to maintain a 90-degree angle at the elbow. Don’t let them drop below your waist. Keep your hands loose, with your thumb and index finger lightly touching, making the letter O. Make sure not to clench your fists.
  5. Your hips should be shifted forward, inline with your head and shoulders. In other words don’t slouch when you run.
  6. Do not lift your legs too high in your stride and avoid doing a high back kick.
  7. You need to use your ankles to propel you forward and you should be conscience of how your ankles help in that forward propulsion (land on your heel, then quickly roll over, and push off strong).
  8. Be conscience of your stride length.  Don’t elongate your stride. (If you feel the need for speed, remember it’s the churn over rate, not the stride length that ensures faster running).  You are better off churning over three smaller strides, than one huge stride in order to be faster. Shorten your stride if you have to.
  9. Thread lighter and let your legs absorb the shock so that you glide along. If you hear your feet pounding the ground, try to lessen the volume by gliding rather than smashing your legs up and down.
  10. You need to work on deep belly breathing. Lift your chest up and forward when you run. Imagine that you are a fire place bellows. You want to be able extend your diaphragm to its full length so that you can get a larger volume of air into your lungs.  Breathe deeply in and out. Breathing deeply will help to get you better oxygen absorption. Work on this when you run and you will improve your oxygen intake frequency and volume. Having an erect posture while running will also help with this.

If you can learn to run with your hips forward, you will be lighter on your feet and put less exertion on your hamstrings. With your hips forward you can extend your legs better, for a stronger stride and a stronger push off. Whatever you do don’t slouch.

When you are lazy you develop poor running form, and poor performance. You need to work on your form when ever you run. Remember: Chest up, hips forward and push off.

Tip: To find out what you look like while running, try checking yourself out in a store window, as you run past, or position a mirror at various places around your treadmill. If you'd like to get even more sophisticated, use a video camera to tape yourself while you run.



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