One of the most frustrating things that every runner goes through is not getting the form right, despite being highly committed to your routine. You may be putting in the same hours as your running buddies; and yet, when it comes to finishing times, you find yourself lagging behind the rest of the group. Quite naturally, this can lead to lower confidence and motivation, and make you question if, perhaps, running isn’t your thing after all. To make things easier, here’s a head-to-toe guide on perfecting your running form for a easy and efficient run:
How you hold your head defines your overall posture and determines how efficiently you run. Start by concentrating on your gaze and scanning the horizon instead of looking down at your feet. Keep you chin up without bending your neck, such that you back and neck are straightened out and perfectly aligned.
Shoulders are the anchor that hold your form together by keeping the upper body relaxed. The shoulders need to be low and loose and not high and tight. When we are tired, shoulders have a way of creeping up towards our ears. Shake them out to release any built up tension. Both the shoulders should be on the same level and not dip from one side to the other with each stride.
Arms usually bear the brunt of just hanging around. But when it comes to running, your arms aren’t just along for the ride but they define it, to an extent. Your hands control the upper-body tension, while your arm swing works in association with your leg stride to propel you forward. Don’t clench your fist but let your fingers lightly touch your palms without crushing it. The movement of your arms should be forward and back, and not across your body. The elbows should be bent at a 90-degree angle. When the run gets strenuous and you feel yourself clenching your fists, drop your arms to the sides and shake them out to release the tension.
When you run with your head straight and your shoulders low and loose, your torso and back naturally straighten out to allow you to run in an upright position. This optimizes your lungs to function at their full capacity and also lengthens your stride. Keep the “running tall” stature in mind with your entire torso stretched to your full height and back comfortably straight. If you find yourself slouching, take a deep breath to straighten up. Maintain the upright position even as you exhale.
The position of the hips is defined by the torso. If your back and torso are comfortably aligned, your hips will naturally fall into place -pointing you straight ahead. If you hunch forward during a run or lean too far behind, your pelvis will tilt as well, which can put pressure on your lower back and throw the rest of your lower body out of alignment.
Legs & Stride
Since we are looking at distance running, exaggerated knee movement are not required to achieve maximum leg power. Unlike sprinters who lift their knees high to boost efficiency, when it comes to distance running this sort of intense movement is simply too hard to sustain for the long duration of time What you need is a slight knee lift, a quick leg turnover and short strides. In efficient endurance running, this technique will facilitate fluid forward movement instead of deflecting any energy. Your run should be such that, your feet should land directly underneath your body with every stride you take. As your foot strikes down, your knee should be slightly flexed so that it can bend naturally on impact. If the lower leg is extending out in front of your body, then you need to shorten your stride.
Feet & Ankles
Your feet help you to push off the ground with maximum force. With every step you take, your foot should land on the ground lightly- touching your heel and midfoot to the running surface. When you turnover to the next leg, your ankle should be flexed to create more force for the next push-off. As you roll onto your toes, try to spring off the ground. Your calf muscles should contract and expand, propelling you forward. Good running is springy and quiet and doesn’t involve your feet loudly slapping the floor.