Have you ever caught yourself landing on your heels? Tried to PR, and just couldn’t meet the mark? Or are your muscles sometimes just too sore for that morning jog? Believe it or not, improving your running form can improve all the above issues, as well as minimize injury so you can keep those legs in motion!
In order to provide you with the most helpful tips and tricks, we searched far and wide, consulting many studies and titans of the running community. What we discovered is the general consensus is there are four components of good running form. Those elements include: strength, alignment, pelvic stability, and posture, which could be the culprit(s) to your aches and pains. Now what? Glad you asked. Without further ado, here are some techniques and adjustments you can make to improve your running form:
- Don’t: Run Too Slow, or Too Fast
- Do: Run Smooth and Efficiently
Cadence, stride rate, and running tempo refer to the number of times your feet strike the ground. Ideally, runners should hit around 180 foot strikes a minute. Get ready for some math! To make sure you’re hitting the right cadence numbers, count your steps for 15 seconds and multiply that number by four. If you find you’re around 45 steps, you’re within the right tempo of 180. Having an efficient cadence can decrease the amount your foot hits the ground, minimizing the energy you need to use to move forward.
- Don’t: Land on Your Heels
- Do: Practice Landing on Your Midfoot
Now that we’ve covered the fact that 180 strikes a minute equals good cadence, what happens if it’s too low? Well, those folks tend to land on their heels more. This term called heel striking is a common theme with runners with low cadence. What happens is the hips are aligned behind the feet and too much energy is needed to push the feet forward. One way to solve this problem is to try out some minimalist footwear. It might hurt at first since you’ll be heel striking, but this will help you fine-tune your form. The goal is to land on the middle of your foot, not on the heel, or toes. You can then graduate back to regular footwear once your technique is dialed in.
- Don’t: Forget to Stretch
- Do: Practice Stretching Before and After Your Runs
Like all athletes, runners should be strong, disciplined, and FLEXIBLE! There is a connection between poor form and lack of flexibility, so stretching before and after your workouts will help improve running form. active isolated stretching can help lengthen muscles to prevent injuries. Even something as simple as an active hamstring stretch is a great exercise that will improve your running potential!
- Don’t: Slouch or Lean Too Far
- Do: Straighten Your Back for Better Posture
Posture is important in all aspects of life as well as running. You don’t want to slouch, or lean too far forward or backward. Good running posture means that your back is straight, and you’re leaning slightly forward into your strides. Make sure both arms are swinging at a 90° angle, but not too much on the backswing, so you can conserve energy.
Bad running form can be degenerative for your training as well as your body in the long run. Try focusing on the four running form related activities, and you’ll be sure to feel better within a short amount of time. In the long run, you’ll be able to perform at a higher level as you progress through your training! (pun intended)