As a beginner, often our biggest challenge is to put on our shoes every morning; concepts like cadence and form are the farthest things from our minds right then. However, just like regular running gets you accustomed to the routine, maintaining proper form and technique keeps you from untoward injuries and quick fatigue – both essential for the long-term quality of your workouts.
By following a few simple drills, you can vastly improve your running economy, while lowering stress on your body and reducing chances of common injuries. Here are 4 quick tips to fix your running form.
Posture is everything: Maintaining good posture is fundamental for every workout and running is no different. Ensure that you stand straight before your run – with your eyes looking straight ahead, back straight and shoulders loose but level. You shouldn’t be leaning in too forward or backward at your waist; while a slight lean forward does help you run better, the same should come from your ankles and not your waist. It’s natural that you’ll give in to a bit of slouching as you tire out, which is why it’s important to check on your posture every once in a while and poke your chest out when you hit a slump. Improper posture while running is one of the commonest reasons behind neck, should and lower-back aches; so keep telling yourself to run ‘tall’.
Check your foot strikes: Beginners of tend to land on their toes or heels when they start out running. By stepping on your toes each time, you tend to tighten your calves or injure your shins more easily, besides also getting tired too fast. Alternatively, landing on your heels essentially causes you to brake from an overstriding step, leading to wasted energy and chances of injuring your knees and ankles. The ideal option is to land on the middle of your foot and roll up to the front of your toes – a habit you can perfect with some deliberate focus every time. Additionally, ensure that your toes remain pointed straight in the direction you want to go, as positioning them further in or out could lead to injuries.
Shorten your strides: A fast stride turnover or cadence refers to taking short and quick steps each time you lift your foot, without stomping them back too hard or from too high a distance. Too much ‘bounce’ in your run, usually caused by taking long and high strides, creates a lot of stress on your body and leads to higher chances of fatigue. The higher you lift your legs, the greater the impact of the shock borne by your foot each time, so keep the steps light as fast, almost like you’re stepping on hot sand. Practice aiming to have your knee above your foot and your shin vertical as your foot touches the ground.
Arm yourself right: Runners sometimes tend to swing their arms quite vigorously while running, but excessive side-to-side swinging or crossing your arms too high above your chest means that you’ll slouch and ruin your posture and breathing. Ideally, your arms should be swinging from your shoulder joints rather than your elbows, and your hands and palms should be as relaxed as possible. Clenching your fists too tight can lead to tension in your shoulders and neck as you run for longer distances.