Running form plays a very important role in running. Running with right and proper form can help runners increase running performance, endurance, efficiency and even help prevent injuries. Today I want to discuss about ways as well as exercises that can improve your running form.
5 Ways to improve running form
1. Reduce bounce
Bouncing down the path looks very athletic, but in fact, it is wasting your energy and can make you run slower and even increase the risk of injuries. In order to reduce bounce, you need to focus on keeping your feet closer to the ground between steps. This will not only quicken your stride but also reduce the time you spend in the air. Besides, keep your arms bent at a 90-degree angle and minimize their swinging motion is also a good way to decrease bounce.
2. Arm position
The arms also have an important role in maintaining right running form and help run more efficiently. Some runners pump their arms like mad when running while others don’t move their arms too much and just keep them at around chest height. You have to know that too much arm motion will not help you run faster or further, it can slow you down because of upper body fatigue. When gravity and momentum drive you forward, your arms will help keep you from tilting off balance. Some runners try to use their arms to drive the body forward but this is not necessary and even wastes energy. In that case, you should move your arm comfortably and keep them as fluid as possible.
3. Improve running posture
Proper running posture can improve your lung capacity to increase oxygen exchange efficiency and make you go faster. Your head, shoulders, hips and arms are important components to your running form. Good running posture is looking straight instead of at the ground which naturally straightens your back and helps open the lungs to allow you to take deeper breaths, oxygenate blood more in every breath. Keep your shoulders square but relaxed, and minimize the amount of side to side swing, that applies to the upper body also. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth or take deep abdominal or "stomach" breathing while running is a good way to improve your running posture, too.
4. Improve your stride
You completely increase your distance, speed or frequency through altering your stride. The way you can use to improve your stride is increasing your turnover rate. Count your steps during one-minute run to determine your turnover rate before beginning to improve it. You can enhance your turnover rate with a shorter, faster stride until you can comfortably cover more ground without lengthening it. Pump your arms at a little bit faster pace also contributes to increase stride rate. Higher turnover rate increases speed and decreases the impact and level of contact with the ground.
5. Foot strike
How runners should land has been a difficult question. However, I think that the most effective landing way is probably the one that is most natural and in good relation to the rest of your body. There are three basic ways for runners to hit the ground: rear-foot strike, mid-foot strike, and forefoot strike.
Rear-foot striker: this way, runners land heel first which will put less impact and stress on their calf muscles because most running shoes are padded well in the heel. However, this type of foot strike also creates a braking effect.
Midfoot strike: runners who choose this type of strike to land often experience fewer foot injuries because the impact is distributed over a wider surface area. But this might be a little slower in comparison with rear-foot strike.
Forefoot strike: forefoot strikes often apply lesser pressure on runners’ ankles and knees because the bounce of landing on toes gives a natural cushion. Sprinters usually use this method because it is fast and can help direct energy forward. But this may cause hardness on runners’ calves or premature muscle fatigue for distance runners.
You should make your foot contact with the ground directly underneath your body than in front of it.
Some exercises to improve running form
1. As I mentioned above, deep abdominal or stomach breathing is good for running. In order to practice this breathing style, lie on your back on the floor and put a book on your abdomen. Inhale slowly to see the book rise and then exhale slowly to lower it.
2. The glute muscles create the force to enable you to run. However, after a long time of running, these compensating muscles can become exhausted, overloaded and eventually injured. Therefore, you need to activate your glutes before running by lifting one leg out to the side and use it to draw 10 basketball-sized circles and then switch leg. Release tension accumulated in your glutes by crossing left ankle above the right knee and sitting your hips back down until you get a release. Keep this about 10 breaths and then change side.
3. A fluid and smooth arm motion assists to provide efficient stride. Before running, lift your arms up to two sides, at the height of shoulder with your elbows bent upward. Put the palms facing inward toward your head. Stretch the elbows back and at the same time lift your chest. After running, recline on a rolled blanket or a foam roller placed vertically up your spine. Widen your arms into a T letter, breathe and relax for a few minutes.
4. Three skipping exercises also help increase the length of stride and knee lift as well as improve single-leg balance. Do these exercises both forward and backward.
- Skip forward with one knee raised to a 90-degree angle while the foot of the raised leg stays parallel with the ground. The arms are pumped in sync with the legs.
- Skip forward with the foot of the raised leg tucked under the butt and before landing, extend the hamstrings.
- Skip forward as if you are trying to kick the butt with the raised leg while still keeping another leg straight.
5. Lunges help build strength for runners and improve their balance.
- Lift left knee to 90 degrees, then step forward and land with the knee still at 90 degrees. Push from the glutes of the left leg to initiate lunge of right leg. Do for 20 yards.
- Perform the same lunges backward also for 20 yards.
- Stand on right leg. Cross your left foot over your right leg and squat as low as you can to the right. Bring your left leg back and stand to repeat this exercise with the right foot. Do 10 times on each foot.
6. These next exercises guide running muscles how to work in sync with each other, strengthen several little-used muscles and improve runners’ ability to move in all three motion panes.
- Hop forward with both legs just a few inches at a time. Do this about 10 feet forward, and then 10 feet backward.
- Stand on your left leg with your right foot up, also hop forward 10 feet, and then hop backward 10 feet before switching leg.
- Standing on the right leg, hop to the sides with 10 feet for each side and then switch leg.
it is not complicated to become a runner. You just go outside and put one foot in front of another. However, how to run effectively requires more attention to running form that can help you run safer, more interesting and effective. I hope that with the ways, tips and exercises above you can improve your running form to have better running life.