If you want to get the most out of your running, keep injury free and increase the efficiency in which you run – good running form is the answer.
With any exercise, having good form is a key factor in optimizing results and staying injury free. In sports, form is key to optimal performance and avoiding injuries. Think of a golf swing – if you’re form is bad, not only will it lead to a horrible shot, but can lead to an injury as well. When it comes to running, as with any exercise, good form is just as important.
With running, most people aren’t aware of their form nor have they ever been taught to run properly.
Running is great exercise, but the problem is the majority of people who run have bad form. According to Ben Richards of Elite Feet, 80% of runners have bad form. Running with bad form causes excessive stress and strain on your body, leading to injury, and will make you fatigue faster as well. Good form is crucial, whether you’re running a race, for recreation, or just running to catch your flight before it leaves the gate. You want to get to that finish line, and you want to get to your destination as quickly and efficiently as you can without hurting yourself along the way.
The most common errors in running form are over striding, slouching posture, bending at the waist, and heel striking.
If you run slouched over, you can strain your back. Looking at your feet when you run can cut off your airway and breathing. What do people typically do when they get tired? Look at their feet. Guess what, if you weren’t tired enough, now you’re really going to get tired. If you’re an over strider, you’ll typically land on your heel, resulting in excessive forces on your joints. This can lead to shin splints, ankle, knee, hip and back problems as well.
No wonder my ankles, knees, hip and back often hurt after I run. Like anyone else, if running causes me to hurt afterwards and I’m making it harder than it needs to be, I’m not going to enjoy it. Thanks to the free Good Form Running clinic I attended at Elite Feet, I now have the insight and knowledge to correct my form and help others with theirs as well.
The four key steps to good form
Posture: keep your feet straight ahead, land with your knees soft and keep your arms relaxed at your sides at a 90 degree angle. Avoid tensing up your shoulders and arms while running, use short arm swings, and avoid crossing the body’s center line.
Mid-foot Ground Contact: not landing on your heel is key. Your foot should land midfoot first, softly and in line with your hip.
Cadence: optimal cadence is 180 steps/minute. If you count the number of steps your feet hit the ground, each foot should land 90 times, or 180 total for both. Listening to upbeat music (ideally 180 bpm) will help keep your pace up and keep you motivated as well.
Forward Lean: leaning slightly forward while running helps with momentum and decreases the likelihood of pounding when you run. You want to lean from the ankles, not the waist.
Learning how to run properly is an important skill, and for some may require learning important adjustments to help optimize running mechanics.