Running is one of the easiest physical activities to pick up - just a good pair of shoes and a tiny bit of motivation gets you started right away. The physical and mental benefits of running are well documented and it’s easy to see how running can improve quality of life.
But in order to fully enjoy running for the long haul, it’s important to practice good running form. There’s more to running than doing what feels right or natural. Proper running form reduces risk of injury, increases the quality of your training, and most importantly allows you to enjoy a lifetime of exercise.
If you’re a newbie just starting out, this post will be a great primer on an important aspect of running that will set you up for many future runs. If you’re an experienced runner looking to improve, this post will be a great comprehensive reminder on good running technique. There’s always something to work on that will help you get to the next level.
Before We Begin
One of the most effective ways to improve your running form is to watch videos of proper running form, and then have a running buddy record your runs. It doesn’t have to be a complicated or long video - just 20-30 seconds at several different points of your run will do wonders on allowing you to see yourself in action.
Of course, make sure to do this in a safe running area (we recommend an enclosed track or park and not out on the street) and always be aware of your surroundings!
Maintain Proper Posture
Experts recommend running tall - meaning staying upright and not hunched over. This allows you to breathe well and reduces upper body strain. Imagine a slight force pulling you up from your hair. To get a good feel for this, try standing with your back against a wall with your chest up and your core engaged.
As you’re running, also keep your eyes scanning the ground about 10-20 feet in front. You want to avoid staring at your feet, and looking ahead prevents any collisions or falls. Good posture is one of the first things to go when you’re tired, so remember to check in mentally on it, especially during longer runs.
Avoid Side-to-Side Movements
Another indicator of good running form is avoiding side-to-side movements. This is most commonly seen in the arms when they cross the centerline of the body to the opposite side. While running, visualize a vertical line down the middle of your body. Nothing from one side should cross that vertical line to the other side.
In a similar manner, your feet should be pointed straight ahead. If your feet are pointed in or out instead, there’s an increased risk of running injuries. If you don’t normally walk with your feet straight ahead, practice doing it for your runs. Start off with shorter runs and increase mileage as you get used to the feeling.
Work on Your Stride & Landings
Good running form avoids overstriding, which is reaching out too far with your feet in an effort to increase stride length. Instead, work on keeping your stride short and light. Avoid any bouncing up or down, which unnecessarily wastes energy and puts strain on your lower body.
There’s been a lot of debate on how the foot should land on the ground. Tons of literature warn against heel striking, which is landing hard on your heel as opposed to your midfoot. We recommend striving for balance - avoid big heel or toe landings, and focus on lighter landings on the midfoot. As you continue the motion, roll from the midfoot to the balls of your feet.
Many runners have too much tension on their shoulders and hands. Proper running form is relaxed, wasting as little energy as possible and saving that energy to drive you forward. Keep your shoulders loose and squared. Along with good posture, relaxed shoulders help you maximize your breathing.
In the same way, keep your hands relaxed and avoid fist clenching. Tight hands allow tension to travel up your arms and shoulders. A helpful method to loosen your hands is to visualize cupping fragile eggs in each hand. As you’re swinging your arms during a run, your hands should be low, closer to your hips than to your chest.
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Offering a variety of compression sleeves for the knees, legs, and calves, as well as compression shorts and shirts, the Enerskin E75 collection will help bring your performance to the next level!