Running is a popular form of exercise that can improve your cardiovascular health, strengthen your muscles, and help you maintain a healthy weight. However, it is important to have proper form while running to avoid injury and get the most out of your workout. In this article, we'll discuss some tips and techniques to improve your running form.
To improve your running form, it is important to have proper posture, foot strike, arm swing, breathing, and cadence. Building your core strength can also improve your running form by stabilising your body and help you maintain proper posture. Good running form can reduce the risk of injury, improve running efficiency and speed, increase breathing efficiency, and make running more enjoyable.
The importance of proper running form
Proper running form is essential for preventing injury and maximising the benefits of your workout. When you run with poor form, you are putting unnecessary stress on your joints and muscles, which can lead to pain and injury over time. Good running form also helps you run more efficiently, meaning you use less energy and can run longer distances without getting tired.
The benefits of good running form
Running with good form has many benefits. It can help:
Reduce the risk of injury
Improve running efficiency
Increase running speed
Improve breathing efficiency
Make running more enjoyable
The risks of bad running form
Running with poor form can put you at risk of the following injuries:
Now that we have covered why proper running form is so important, let's dive into some tips and techniques to help you improve your form.
Foot Strike when running
Foot strike refers to the way your foot lands on the ground when you run. There are three types of foot strikes:
Heel Strike - When your heel hits the ground first, then rolls to the ball of your foot.
Midfoot Strike - When your foot lands flat on the ground.
Forefoot Strike - When the ball of your foot hits the ground first.
Which foot strike is best for you?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Everyone's body mechanics are different, and what works for one person might not work for another. However, some experts believe that a midfoot strike is the most efficient and safest foot strike for most people.
How to transition to a new foot strike
If you want to switch to a new foot strike, it is important to do so gradually. Start by doing some exercises to strengthen your feet and legs, such as calf raises and squats. Then, gradually transition to your new foot strike by starting with short runs and gradually increasing the distance.
Cadence in running
Cadence refers to the number of steps you take per minute while running. A high cadence is generally considered to be between 170-180 steps per minute. Running with a high cadence can help reduce the impact on your joints and improve your running efficiency.
The importance of cadence
Maintaining an appropriate cadence can help improve your running performance and reduce the risk of injuries. Here are some reasons why cadence is important in running:
Reduces the risk of injuries: A higher cadence helps to reduce the impact on your joints and lower extremities. It also helps to distribute the impact more evenly throughout your body, which can reduce the risk of injuries.
Improves running efficiency: When you increase your cadence, you are taking shorter steps and reducing the amount of time your feet spend on the ground. This can help to improve your running efficiency and help you run faster with less effort.
Enhances endurance: A higher cadence can help you conserve energy and maintain your pace for a longer duration. When you maintain a steady cadence, you can run for a longer distance without getting fatigued.
Improves form: A higher cadence helps you maintain proper running form. When you take shorter, quicker steps, you are less likely to overstride, which can lead to injuries.
How to improve your cadence
To improve your cadence, try running to a metronome or music with a consistent beat. Start by running to a beat of 160 steps per minute, and gradually increase the tempo over time. It is also helpful to focus on shortening your stride and taking quicker steps.
Posture for proper running form
Good posture is essential for proper running form. When you run with good posture, your body is aligned correctly, and your muscles can work more efficiently.
How to improve your posture while running
Keep your head up and eyes forward
Keep your shoulders relaxed and down
Engage your core muscles
Keep your arms at a 90-degree angle and swing them back and forth, not across your body.
Common mistakes in posture when running
The most common mistakes in posture include:
Looking down at your feet
Hunching your shoulders
Slouching your back
Crossing your arms in front of your body
Arm Swing When Running
Swinging your arms while running help maintain balance, stability, and rhythm while running. It also helps to conserve energy by providing a counterbalance to the movement of the legs.
How to improve your arm swing when running
To improve your arm swing, keep your elbows bent at approximately 90 degrees and swing your arms forward and back in a straight line, without crossing them over your body. Your hands should be relaxed and loosely cupped, not clenched.
Common Mistakes in Arm Swing When Running
Common mistakes in arm swing include swinging your arms too high, crossing them over your body, or holding them too close to your chest. These errors can cause imbalance and inefficiency while running.
Breathing Properly When Running
Proper breathing is essential for supplying your body with oxygen and removing carbon dioxide during running. It can also help you control your heart rate and prevent muscle cramps.
Techniques for proper breathing while running
Breathing should be deep and rhythmic, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. Focus on breathing from your diaphragm, not just your chest. You can also try to match your breathing with your steps, inhaling for two or three steps and exhaling for the same number.
Core Strength for running
A strong core helps to stabilise your body and maintain proper posture while running. It can also prevent injuries and improve your running efficiency.
How to improve your core strength
To improve your core strength, focus on exercises that target your abs, lower back, and hips. Planks, sit-ups and pull-ups are all great exercises for strengthening your core.
Proper running form is crucial for avoiding injury, maximizing the benefits of running, and improving your performance. By following the tips and techniques outlined in this article, you can improve your running form and get the most out of your workouts.