How to Achieve and Maintain Better Running Form
The amount of head tilt and how far your chin sticks out are key to overall posture. Keep your eyes focused on the ground about 10 feet ahead of you, not at your feet. Your head should be relaxed, but not tilted too far back or forward. The more tired you get, the more your head will tilt. Correct this form, otherwise you may develop neck-related problems, and poor posture will ensue if you don’t align your neck and your back.
Your shoulders should be kept relaxed and aligned. Hunching your shoulders forward or upward while running tightens the chest and restricts breathing. This results in a less efficient use of oxygen. At the end of your run, you may begin to slump over a little. Ensure that your shoulders remain level and do not lower from side to side with each stride. Make sure to correct your posture since slouching will lead to neck, shoulder, and lower-back pain.
You should not be leaning forward or back at your waste. Keep your torso relaxed and straight. Your upper body should face forward, not rotating side to side. Your “bellybutton” should be pointed in the direction you are running, and you should be “running proud and tall” above the knees. Correcting improper form with each deep breath will help form good habits.
The elbows should be kept relaxed at a 90-degree angle. Your arms should swing back and forth from your shoulder joint, not from your elbows, and remain at your side. Swinging your arms across your torso is likely to cause slouching, which is an improper running form. Your arm swing should be timed with each stride to help increase forward momentum while running.
Don’t hold your hands clenched or in front of your torso/ chest. This will cause early fatigue since it increases tension as well as discomfort of the arms, shoulders and neck. Keep your hands leveled so they lightly brush your waist. Keep your wrists relaxed and your hands gently cupped as if “holding an egg shell,” in order to avoid unnecessary upper body tension.
With the torso and back comfortably aligned, upright and pointing straight ahead, the hips and pelvis will thus be in proper alignment. When you hunch forward, the pelvis tilts forward, and increases the forces on the lower back.
Allow your knee to swing forward to its natural extent with a slight knee lift and a short stride. Taking longer strides or using more knee lift can result in more rapid fatigue and thus injury. Your knees need to slightly bend with each foot strike on the ground to act as a shock absorber. When your foot lands, the torso should be directly above to maintain good posture.
When running, land between the heel and mid-foot and then roll your foot up to your toes quickly while keeping your ankles flexed. This will allow you to “spring off the ground” from your toes and decrease the forces on your body. You should feel your calf muscles controlling this motion with each stride. Landing on your toes can make your calves fatigued and will lead to shin pain. Landing on your heel will lead to fatigue and a higher chance of injury. The higher you lift your body off the ground, the more shock it absorbs with each step, the more of a chance for injury. Your knees, ankles and feet should work together as an efficient “spring,” and thus minimize “foot slap” as your foot hits the ground.