Most people think that running is just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other and don’t really consider how their body moves. However making some small changes to your technique can mean your body moves more efficiently; making running seem easier. Ultimately this means you can run further and/or faster and in the long term reduce the likelihood of injuries. So how can we improve our running technique?
- Try ‘running tall’ and your head will lift and spine lengthen.
If you are bent over as you run your legs will be hindered and you won’t be able to use your whole leg from the hips to propel you along. See how much easier it is to run by adopting a tall, upright posture. Remember to look ahead and not at your feet – don’t let your chin jut out. Imagine a helium balloon tied to your head and pulling you upwards.
- Push your chest up and forwards.
Make sure your chest is not facing down towards the ground – it needs to face the direction you are trying to travel in.
- Try to keep your pelvis level (imagine it’s a bucket full of water that you don’t want to spill) and keep your bum and tummy tucked in.
Remember doing core stability exercises will help with this!
4. Watch your legs
Don’t over stride – if your stride is too long the chances are that you are landing with your knee locked and probably landing quite heavily on your heels. This creates a braking effect and also puts a lot of impact through your body. Make sure that when you land your knee is slightly bent and your foot lands underneath your hips (not way out in front of your hips).
Is your stride rate fast or slow? Count your steps as you run and see how close you are to the optimum of 180 per minute. This stride rate is considered to be the best regardless of how fast or slow you run. By keeping your stride rate up you are more likely to be lighter on your feet, which means it is less of an effort to push off after each time your foot lands!
When you are running try to imagine that your legs are making a cycling motion; as you lift your foot off the ground bring your heel up and under your bottom – this will make it easier to swing your leg through. Then lift your knee up before driving your foot down – this will allow you to apply power as your foot strikes the ground.
Whilst many elite runners land on their forefoot, most of us tend to land heel or mid-foot first and that is fine so long as you are not crashing heavily onto your heels which can often lead to injury, as well as being an inefficient way to run. So pay attention to how your foot lands and make sure you are not landing too heavily on your heel s. If you do land on your forefoot or mid-foot make sure that your heel does makes light contact with the ground to avoid Achilles problems.
When you run listen to your footsteps and think: Quick, Quiet & Light footsteps.
- Finally add to that relaxed arms and shoulders and you’re half way there.
Make sure your shoulders are not hunched up and keep your arms loose. If you feel tension in your arms or shoulders when running try dropping your arms by your side and giving them a little shake as you run.
Watch your arm swing – are your arms driving forwards and back and helping you to run or are they swinging across your body? Our arms play an important role when running – if you want to run faster an active arm swing will help propel you forwards (drive the elbows back with the hand moving from ‘lips to hips’). Also your arms have the role of counterbalancing your legs, so if your arms are uncoordinated your legs will be too. If your arms swing across your body this may cause your heels to ‘splay out’ as you run – remember you want to run forwards so make sure your body movements are going in that direction too!
Keep your hands loose and relaxed – don’t clench your fists. Imagine holding a crisp between your thumb and forefinger with your thumb uppermost, then try not to break it! If you do this it will help to keep your arms and shoulders relaxed.
- Get someone to watch or video you
Not sure exactly how you run? Then get someone to watch you and ask them for feedback or get someone to video you.
Remember if you want some help with improving your running technique please get in touch. I can offer advice by email, one-to-one coaching or you can come along to one of our small, friendly running groups.