Having a proper running posture greatly reduces the stress that running imposes on our bodies. Running injuries are in most cases caused by too much stress on the lower body. It doesn't have to be this way.
Improving your running technique can help to evenly distribute and reduce the stress, so that one area of the body doesn't become over-stressed and injured. Improving your running form will also help you to run more easily, efficiently and usually faster.
One of the most important aspects of having a correct running posture is a totally relaxed, tension-free body that glides easily over the pavement. While running, scan your body for any areas that may be tense. Are your shoulders relaxed and down? What about your jaw? Are your fists clenched? Is your face relaxed and smiling?
Concentrate on relaxing the parts that you may be holding tightly. Learn how to relax while running. It will make a significant difference in how you feel during and after running.
Your posture should be upright with your head high and your shoulders relaxed and down. Your chest should be up and open to allow you to breathe easily and efficiently. A deep breath will help you open your chest and put your shoulders back.
Your hips, shoulders and ankles should be in straight alignment for correct posture.
Your arms should be relaxed and swinging close to the body -- not too high or too low. They should be swinging in the area of the heart with your hands moving to the center of your chest but but not crossing your body. Elbows should be held at 90 degrees or slightly less.
A faster swing can be used to increase speed or intensity, just be careful not to swing them higher. Concentrate on swinging the elbows back rather than the hands forward.
Keep your hips forward to align your body. When your leg moves forward, the hip should move forward with it. Try to feel this movement.
As you run, feel the connection between your hips and shoulders. As your right leg and hip move forward, the left shoulder should also move forward. When the left leg and hip move forward, the right shoulder should also move forward.
When you move this way, you are utilizing the strength in your hips and the motion of your shoulders to move your body forward with less effort.
Practice this in an exaggerated manner when not running to get the feel for the movement. Running this way also promotes the efficient use of the lungs as the shoulder movements open your chest. Learn more about breathing efficiently with The Buteyko Breathing Method.
Use visualization techniques to improve your running form. Mentally seeing yourself running properly can help you run better.
Lean from the ankles and not the waist. You will move forward more easily as you will be using gravity and not your legs for forward propulsion. This movement reduces the risk of over-striding as your feet will land beneath your center of gravity with your leg under your hip.
A shorter stride will ensure you land softer, have a lower impact force and increased efficiency. Landing with your feet under your hips or your center of gravity will also help you develop a forefoot strike and reduce the risk of foot injuries, such as top of foot pain and stress fractures. Continuing to improve your running posture will reduce the probability of injury occurrence.
Keep your feet hip-width apart and land with a low-impact, forefoot strike, having knees slightly bent. Your running foot strike should be brief. The longer your foot is on the ground, the more effort is required to keep it moving.
Your steps should be soft and springy—reducing impact and fully utilizing the power of your Achilles tendon and other ligaments in your feet and ankles.
Cadence or turnover rate is the number of steps you take each minute while running. The ideal cadence is 180 steps per minute for optimum performance and efficiency. Do drills to improve your turnover rate. An easy one is to count only the steps for your right or left leg. Run for one minute and aim for 90 steps per foot. Take a short rest and repeat.
Check out the video below which shows Kenyan Moses Mosop demonstrating his impressive running technique during the Rotterdam 2012 marathon. He runs with a quick cadence, a short ground contact time, a forefoot strike with foot landing under his hips and a body lean from the ankles.
The video then shows an average runner making a number of mistakes that are common to many regular runners. You can see how difficult running is when the runner hasn't learned proper running technique. It is a great comparison video!
It can be difficult to change your running posture, especially with so many different body parts to think about. Don't become overwhelmed and try to improve everything in one run. Focus on one aspect of your running posture at a time. You will see and feel improvements with time and patience.
Is your spine straight? Find out how Backwards Running can improve spinal column alignment, reduce injuries and give you a great workout.
There has been a number of methods designed to help improve and correct posture while running.
The Chi Running Method takes a holistic approach to running using the basic techniques of Tai Chi. It can help you improve your running technique, strengthen your mind and body connection and run injury free.
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