Running is all about putting one foot in front of the other. Sounds easy enough, right? But if your running form is off, then you'll likely end up with aches, strains, and injuries that could keep you from lacing up your sneakers at all. Make sure to avoid these running-form mistakes the next time you hit the treadmill, trail, or road.
- Head: It sometimes feels good to close your eyes and relax your chin toward your chest, but don't keep your head down (or tilt your head up) for long periods of time. Prevent neck strain and encourage an open throat for easy breathing by keeping your head stacked over your spine. Correct head position also encourages a straight, upright stance, which makes you a more efficient runner.
- Shoulders: Without even realizing it, you may be running with your upper back and shoulders tensed up toward your ears. (And you wonder why you have a pounding headache or aching neck.) Every so often, take a nice deep breath in and as you exhale, relax your upper torso and actively roll your shoulders back and down toward your pelvis. Do a self-check to make sure your shoulders are stacked over the hips. Hunching the upper body forward not only makes it difficult to breathe, it also puts pressure on your lower back.
Keep reading to learn more about your running form.
- Arms: Leave the side-to-side swaying arms for the dance floor. Your arms shouldn't move across the midline of our body when you run: it uses up energy, tires your muscles, and actually interferes with the forward motion of your body. To increase your speed and endurance, focus on pumping your arms forward and back, keeping your elbows at 90-degree angles.
- Hands: Clenched fists translate to tense arms and shoulders, which tires your muscles and can cause a dull, achy sensation. Not to mention, it also makes you look like an angry runner! Maintain a sense of relaxation in your torso by running with a slightly open fist, pretending you're holding an egg in each palm.
- Belly: Many runners complain of lower back pain, and one reason is because they don't engage their abs. While running, concentrate on drawing your navel in toward your spine to keep your pelvis and lower spine stable.
- Feet: Where your feet strike is a big debate among runners. In order to land with the least amount of jarring pressure on your ankles and knees and have the ability to push off the ground with great force, it's best to land on the midfoot — not on the heel. Then roll forward quickly onto the toes, popping off the ground with each step. Landing softly is key — no one should hear you pounding your feet as you run. Think of yourself as a deer, quietly and effortlessly bounding as you move.