We tend to think of running as an "easy" sport that just needs a pair of trainers and a spare hour to go out and blow the cobwebs away. We don't worry about technique like we do with other sports. I certainly had swimming and cycling lessons as a child, and learnt how to serve at tennis, but no one taught me how to run. However, research shows that good running technique reduces injuries and improves running quality, ie speed and endurance.
Here are three key aspects of good running form:
- Run tall: Try not to lean forward at the hips and put your head down to power forwards. It's better to stay upright, keeping the chest expanded, with tension in your core muscles to keep your pelvis stable. Keep your shoulders relaxed. Think about your breathing, deep into your chest without tensing your shoulders. Oh and did I mention keep your shoulders relaxed, push the things away from your ears!
- Shorten your stride: All advice points towards running with "quicker" feet, landing directly under your hips rather than stretching your landing foot out in front of you. Focus on pushing the leg backwards from the hip rather than the swing forward phase. 180 steps per minute is considered a good cadence to aim for. See our blog on cadence. http://www.running-form.co.uk/blog/article/cadence-and-running-form
- Arm swing: A good arm swing actually helps with running efficiency rather than using up more energy. Have your elbows flexed to about 90° with hands and shoulders relaxed. Swing your hands forwards towards your face but focus on driving backwards and down with your elbows. Use the rhythm of your elbows to drive your running. If you want to increase your speed or work hard to go up hill, start with your arms and your legs will follow!
Learning any technique takes practice. Try one thing at a time rather than trying to change lots of things all at once.
It goes without saying, if you're happy with your running, you win races and don't get injuries then it ain't broke and you don't need to fix it!