Running is a great form of cardio, and easy to start — lace up your sneakers and go. To help you hit the ground running in 2012, we're giving away Asics sneakers for a year; enter here!
There is a technique to running, though, and here are eight common mistakes many runners make. Improper form and bad technique can slow you down, make running more difficult, and lead to injuries, which can keep you off the road. Avoid these running no-nos.
- Bouncing up and down too much: This vertical motion uses more energy, can tire you out quickly, and can also lead to knee injuries. When running, keep your feet close to the ground and focus on springing forward rather than upward.
- Overstriding: Some runners assume a longer stride will help them run farther in less time, but reaching out in front of your center of gravity with each step forces you to land on your heel. This jarring motion causes you to lose your forward momentum, so you end up running slower. Heel-striking could also result in knee injury.
- Slapping the feet loudly as you hit the ground: Pounding the pavement or treadmill immediately sends jolting pressure to the knee and hip joints, which can cause pain or injury. Be mindful about landing lightly with each step.
Keep reading to see what other errors you should avoid when running.
- Not using your arms: Don't let your lower body do all the work. Use your upper body to gain some power and forward momentum.
- Twisting your midriff side-to-side while running: This is an unnecessary movement, just like bouncing up and down too much. It uses up energy and will quickly tire you out. When swinging your arms, avoid twisting your torso.
- Leaning the head and upper body forward: This improper alignment will cause back and neck pain, so remember to keep your shoulders stacked over your hips.
- Losing control on downhills: The tendency is to lean the torso far forward and overstride to make good time on declines, but running without control causes pounding on your feet and thus, your knees. On hills, lean forward just enough so your shoulders are slightly ahead of your hips, and focus on taking short, quick strides.
- Jogging slower than you can walk: If you are jogging at a pace that's slower than six mph (10 minutes per mile), it might be healthier for your joints to walk. Your body can walk more efficiently and with less risk of injury at this speed.