How to Improve Your Running Technique

How to improve your running technique

Understanding how to improve your running technique is a really important aspect in improving your performance. Superior running technique has long been the foundation of elite level performance and good running form also plays a crucial role in injury prevention.

I’ve been running for a while now, just over 20 years. I know everyone is different, but I guess I feel that the good running technique’s principles are more or less universal and that the main thing is getting these principles right in your brain and then using them to ‘program’ your body correctly. Running fast will come naturally after that, along with lots of other wonderful benefits like increased health, fitness, etc.

Running technique is often overlooked, but it’s essential to avoid injury

When you’re running, you need to pay attention to two things: your posture and your running technique. Good posture will improve your coordination, reduce stress on your muscles and joints, and help you avoid injury. The running technique of an athlete who has experience in the running and is committed to running can help the athlete run faster and more efficiently.

However, posture is often overlooked when it comes to running. Many runners struggle to maintain good posture, and as a result, they end up with back and hip pain and limit their running. Please know that good running posture can prevent many running injuries. 

How to improve your bad running posture

The only way to see how bad posture can affect you is to try it for yourself and pay attention to your body’s response. Running with improper technique can lead to bad health, amounting to thousands in medical bills for years to come. Use these simple tips to strengthen your core and run faster, longer with better running posture.

Here are 6 tips to improve your running technique and make your cardio routine more effective

Posture should be upright, with shoulders back and head straight

Now that you’ve learned about your muscles, it is time to put everything into action.  Think posture when you run. Your feet should land beneath your hips instead of directly beneath your knees, and you will lengthen the contact time of your foot on the ground. While you are running, instead of hunching over, straighten your spine, keep your shoulders back and head straight looking forward. This posture prevents the forward rotation of the pelvis, which allows for a more efficient stride and a higher cadence.

The body should lean forward at a 20-30 degree angle

When running on a treadmill, the body should lean forward at a 20-30 degree angle. As speed increases, so does the angle of body lean. Running at this angle is a result of Newton’s Law – “the amount of work done by an external force on an object equals the product of the force and the distance traveled by the object while the force acts.” In other words, your body works more challenging as it travels farther.

Your weight should stay near your midsection

Your body naturally floats so that you can swim with almost no effort at all. However, long and steady distance races can be tough on your body, particularly if you’re not in good running form. If your upper body moves one way and your legs are going another, you could suffer from an injury known as “overstriding.” This happens when you take longer strides than necessary when running, leading to soreness or even strained muscles and tendons if done over long distances. Overstriding is the most common cause of injury among runners. It can be a significant source of pain for runners who force themselves to continue running despite the nagging pain associated with this practice.

Your toes should point ahead and not outwards or inwards

Many people naturally run with their toes pointed outwards at an angle rather than pointing forward, which is optimal. That’s because it is more natural to point your toes downwards towards the ground when running, and hence many runners have biomechanics of running in which their toes are pointed outwards.

Keep stride short & quick, with feet below your knees

Before you can learn how to run fast, you need to understand the concept of stride length. The first thing you should know about your stride length is that it doesn’t depend on your height. In other words, taller people don’t necessarily have longer strides, and shorter people don’t always have shorter strides. To determine your ideal stride length, you must first establish an appropriate running form. Then it’s a matter of identifying the most comfortable and practical stride for that specific style.

If you run with your feet too far ahead, it will be more challenging to maintain an even pace and tire you out faster. Keep stride short and quick, with feet below knees. This will help you go faster than your competition while keeping you at a lower level than them. Sprinting is all about mastering the technique of short strides.

Bend your knees and sit back with your heels underneath the ground

You should bend your knees slightly, and your body should lean slightly forward. You won’t be able to run for very long with your knees sticking out past your feet. Use a mirror or have someone watch you run. You should also sit back on your heels rather than the ball of your foot. Most people do this when sprinting, but not during longer running distances. When sitting back, lean forward slightly from the waist.

Strengthening your glutes 

You can use your glutes to stabilize your lower body and engage in more dynamic movements like lunges, side-steps, and squats. 

Your glutes are the powerhouse of your lower body. They’re responsible for both stability and movement, and they play a role in postural control. The problem is most people misuse their glutes or rely on them less as runners.

An inadequate amount of gluteal activation plays a significant role in the increased rates of training and running-related injuries and the lack of sufficient power and performance in many athletes.

So how can you improve your running technique without changing your way of running?

So how can you improve your running technique without changing your way of running? This is an important question, and the answer is quite simple. You need to make changes to the parts of your running that are causing you problems, which will be different for every runner. 

Here are some of the areas you need to improve on:

If you want to improve your running technique, we often think that what we need to do is run faster to cover the distance and shorten the distances. While this is true for some short distances, for most of us, running stops at whatever speed we’ve established when the road surface is not uneven. 

The most frequent and prominent problem areas of form when running are in the lower back, shoulder, and knees. At the beginning of every run, your body is still in one of these states. As you get further into your run, both your mind and body begin to wander from the positions you’ve established, causing you to make subtle changes to your running form that may very well lengthen your time in the race. So your first goal in trying to improve your running technique is to change this pattern so that you can stay where you’re at all times when running hard.

One reasonably easy solution is to run in shorter strides. Stretches are pretty standard when it comes to running, but what’s often neglected is that you need to run shorter strides than you would consistently if you wanted to be continuously injury-free.

During your runs, if you notice that you’re scragging, almost like you’re clutching the ground with your feet, or that your knees and hips feel like they’re on fire, or that you’re constantly cutting yourself on the run, it’s probably time to take a look at your running form. Track runners have their term for this — increasing strides.

When running regularly for a lengthy period, your body will develop quite a bit of physical scar tissue.

While running, it’s essential to pay attention to certain body signals

When you’re running, your body needs to get used to the level of effort that you’re putting it through. It’s essential to know when to slow down or stop completely.

Yes. You can push through your hurt during a run, but overdoing it will make it worse. Push through the pain, for sure, but move at a pace you can handle. If you can’t handle the pace you’re doing, find another route. You can run at a slow pace for a long time with no health issues. However, you increase your risk for injury as your body adapts to the strain. If you’re running every day and looking for the Gingerbread Run Special on your website, you’ll eventually experience the burnout that comes from pushing too hard.

Bad form, much better shape. Take a look at any expert running videos, and they’ll always tell you to focus on your form. These experts will show you multiple ways to do this, but perhaps the best option is hiding from the form of criticism in your head.

Run with injury in mind, not injure yourself. You want to be able to recover and be as solid and functional as possible in the future. That’s the goal.

Approaching running from a mindset of injury avoidance is healthy. 

Running is meant to be a strenuous physical activity. You could injure yourself, and running doesn’t need to be a punishment you receive from your body. Never let running keep you from meeting your fitness goals.

Conclusion

Proper running technique is essential, but it’s even more important to listen to your body and know when to change what you’re doing to don’t overexert yourself or cause yourself pain and strain.

Proper running technique is essential, but it’s even more important to listen to your body and know when to change what you’re doing to don’t overexert yourself or cause yourself pain and strain.

As Runner’s Life editor Sam Kingston says, most runners run too hard. The problem is plenty of runners think they must run hard to be successful. Running hard isn’t the answer. It doesn’t guarantee better running. Research shows running at low intensities can be more effective than pushing yourself hard as long as they’re challenging. A good analogy — and the one I use often — is that running on the treadmill is like driving a car at an excessive speed. Untimely tire failure can easily occur, leading to health problems that can range from mild aches and pains to more serious ailments that require an emergency trip to the hospital.

As anyone who’s ever experienced running in high school will quickly tell you, being safe is the first rule for any sport. You wouldn’t go to the Harvard track and try to run 200 meters there because Julianne Moore told you to. You wouldn’t go to a basketball game and start shooting jump shots with reckless abandon just because Kobe Bryant told you to.

Listen to your body

Likewise, if you want to be a good runner, you must practice proper form. Some of the best running forms we have are the excellent form sprints and easy runs we learn in track practice or the high-effort intervals we do in cross-country training.

No matter what the sport, you must listen to your body to get the best out of your effort. Many runners think that if they stick to relatively easy runs, they’ll be safe and be able to run further, run faster, and improve their mileage.

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