I want to talk to you about running form. I found that once I started paying closer attention to the correct body mechanics while I was running that I began to feel more relaxed and comfortable during my run. Maintaining proper running form will help you relax and enjoy your run better and hopefully prevent injury.
Where the head goes, the body will follow. Hold your head up straight keeping your neck relaxed and keep your gaze about 10 feet in front of you. When our head leans forward our body tends to lean too far forward, too.
Keep your head erect, your back straight and your shoulders relaxed. Be careful not to slouch. Your spine should rest comfortably in line with your pelvis. When we get tired it’s easy to start slouching and holding our head down or foward can lead to neck and shoulder pain.
Your arms should rest comfortably at your hips with your elbows at a 90 degree angle. Swing your arms forward and back from the shoulders and not side to side which can use more energy and cause you to fatigue quicker.
Stride and Foot Placement
From what I’ve researched about proper foot placement, this subject seems to cause the most controversy. But I’m just going to share with you what I’ve learned from my own personal experience and what works for me.
For longer distance running your stride should be quick and short and you should be landing on the balls/fatty part of the foot. I know a short stride sounds weird and one that I had to get used to, but after I started practicing it, I realized that it does make sense and it does work.
Our hips are our center of gravity and our legs should be kept properly in line with that center of gravity. When we take too long strides, our legs are forced too far in front of us throwing that center of gravity and balance off. Get it?
When that happens several other mechanics are thrown off as well. When your stride is too long, your’re always reaching for the next stride or step which can cause your heels to strike the ground first = bad form. When your heels strike the ground first they are taking the force of the pressure exerted from your entire body rather than the stronger pads of your foot that are made to cushion your steps. Another problem with taking longer strides is the pressure and stress caused to your calf muscles, knees and hips which in turn can cause more injury. I honestly believe that this is what contributed to my knee and calf pain from running on the treadmill during our cruise. I ran too fast (for me), took long strides which caused overstress and strain to my calves, tendons and knees.
Now I know more professional runners may digress that we should be toe striking first. While I understand that this form is more appropriate for short distance runners and sprinters, I don’t hold it true for the general runner. Toe striking causes additional strain on your calf muscles and can also cause shin splints.
So there you have it. I hope these tips help you. I also hope you noticed a word I used often is the word relaxed. The more tense our body is, the more strain and stress we put on body and each of our body parts are affected in someway or another. And when we’re not relaxed, not enjoying our run and begin to feel pain, it causes us to want to give up all together which is not acceptable.
So the next time you’re out for a run notice your own running form. Throughout your run assess how you’re feeling. Take notice of your posture, your arms and your stride, take a deep breath, shake it off, relax and keep going.