Jesse is back to answer your running questions. One of the most popular running questions we get is What Is Proper Running Form?
Running is all about efficiency of movement. That means that form matters, because when any part of your body is out of alignment, your efficiency is thrown off. Also, you’ve probably heard that old rumor about running being bad for your knees. Research has proven that is not true. However, running with poor form and alignment will put increased pressure on your joints. So what can you do to make sure you are maintaining proper running form?
Jesse breaks it down in today’s video with 6-Tips for Proper Running Form. We also provided a written breakdown below:
- Proper Form Starts with Your Arms: Always move forward. This starts with your arms. The arms should be moving forward, not criss-crossing. When your arms criss cross (this is especially common when you are tired!) your stride is thrown off, resulting in a lateral movement, instead of forward motion. When running any distance, even that slight shift to a lateral movement means you are wasting energy, and running less efficiently. Getting your arm movement under control can improve your running form, and your efficiency of motion. For the same reasons, you should avoid exaggerated arm movements. You don’t want to waste energy that can be better spent propelling you forward, by swinging/pumping your arms with an exaggerated movement. Proper arm motion is when your hands move from your hips to chest height (Hips to Nips is an easy way to remember it).
- Stay Loose and Relaxed: This should start with your jaw, and applies to your entire body. When you focus on loosening your jaw, you may notice that your neck and shoulders follow suit. Again, this has to do with running efficiency: if you are holding your body and muscles tight you are not able to maximize your forward movement. Tight muscles not only change your stride and arm position, but they require energy to maintain that tightness. It can also lead to shoulder cramps (if you’ve ever had one you know what I’m talking about!) Make sure your hands are relaxed during your run.
- Maintain Good Posture: When running you want to maintain an upright position without leaning forward or backward. During your movement you want to avoid bouncing. Just like with your arms, you want to maintain a forward motion, not an up and down/bouncing movement. If you are bouncing while you run you are wasting energy. With Ideal Running Form, if I took a video of you running, and drew a line across the top of your head as you ran, it would be a straight line, not a spiky line that bounces up and down with each step. Running takes a lot of effort, you want that effort to go toward moving your forward toward the finish line, not up and down.
- Don’t Worry About Foot Strike: With the onset of minimalist running, and shoe sales pitches you may have heard that a specific Foot Strike Pattern (where your foot hits the ground first when you run) is superior to other strike patterns. This is not true. Research on Olympic Runners has shown that they all have different Foot Strike patterns, with no one pattern emerging as superior. What matters is that you are doing what is natural to your body.
- Be Assessed for Proper Running Shoes: This one goes with Foot Strike. While Forefoot, Midfoot and Heel Strike patterns don’t matter much, the position of your foot and ankle matter a lot. Some people pronate: your ankles roll in toward the middle of your body.
Some people supinate: your ankles roll toward the outside of your body.
Some people are neutral: your ankles maintain middle alignment.
There are shoes specific to each gait pattern, and a professional should help you determine which style of shoes are best for you. The way a shoe looks should always be secondary to the type of shoe/support.
- Let Your Stride Be Organic: Don’t Over-stride or try to shorten your stride. Everyone’s legs and hips are different. Do what is natural for your body.
What Are Your Questions? Let us know in the comments below! We are picking different Running Questions to Answer Each Week.