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Running form encompasses the position and state of relaxation of your body as you run.
Having good form can save energy and decrease the chance of getting a common running injury!
If you are a new runner it is important to learn good running posture so that you don’t pick up any bad habits. If you’ve been running for a while be sure to evaluate your running form to see if there are areas that need improvement.
Let’s take a look at each body part directly involved in running.
Head to Toe Running Form Evaluation:
- Head: Good running posture starts with your head.
Let your gaze guide you as you look ahead and scan the horizon. Imagine that you’re a marionette puppet and a string is coming out of the top of your head pulling it up. Run with your jaw relaxed and develop a pattern of breathing step by step. Breathe in-in as your feet hit the ground and then out-out as they hit the ground again.
- Shoulders: Keep your shoulders low, loose, and level.
They shouldn’t dip with each stride or feel tense or tight. If you feel tension starting to develop or your shoulders are creeping toward your ears, let your arms hang loosely at your sides and shake out the tension.
- Arms: Your arms provide balance and coordination with your legs.
Your hands control the tension in your upper body. Don’t clench your hands in fists. Let your fingers lightly touch your palms (imagine carrying a potato chip in each hand).
Elbows should be bent at 90 degrees and swing forward and back. Don’t drive your arms forward as you run, drive them backward. Keep your arms close to the torso but don’t allow them to cross the midline of your body as they swing back and forth. Again, if you feel tension in your arms or shoulders, let your arms drop to your sides and shake them out.
- Torso: Your torso is controlled by your head and shoulder position.
Keep the back straight and upright to increase lung capacity and maintain a slight forward lean (this should start from your ankles). Your upper body should also be in balance with your legs and hips.
- Hips: Your hips are the center of gravity.
Point your hips straight ahead and make sure that your pelvis is level. If your torso is correctly aligned then your hips will follow suit.
- Legs: Distance running requires a slight knee lift, short stride, and quick leg turnover.
This will create fluidity and avoid wasting energy. Your feet should land directly under your hips with the knee slightly flexed as the foot hits the ground. If you have proper knee lift it will feel like you are driving the knee forward and not upward.
Over-striding decreases speed and efficiency and puts stress of your knees, hips, and back. Shortening your stride by 10% may reduce the impact on your legs and decrease your risk of shin stress fractures.
- Ankles/Feet: Your foot should land midfoot and hit the ground lightly.
The ankle will be flexed as the foot rolls forward to push off. You should feel your calf muscles propelling you forward without bobbing up and down.
Over-pronation is when the foot rolls too much during the landing and pushoff phase and puts too much stress on the foot. It can be caused by weak muscles in the lower body as well as stride problems. Many experts recommend barefoot or minimalistic running to strengthen and stabilize the ankle and foot muscles. Other runners find success using motion control shoes.
The keys to Chi Running are postural alignment and relaxation. Chi Running encourages landing with a midfoot strike, using a forward lean, and engaging core strength for forward motion, rather than leg strength. This approach makes your running easier and healthier for the whole body. To find a class near you visit: http://www.chirunning.com/what-is-chirunning/
The POSE Method is also concerned with having the correct posture and technique. To find an instructor near you visit: http://www.posetech.com/services/coach-list.html