After buying that expensive running shoe, finishing that long and exhausting training, you still end up last on the race, exhausted, or worse, injuring yourself. This leads you to ask yourself: was it the shoe? Was it the training? Have you ever asked yourself that maybe it’s your running form that needs some polishing? Read on and find out how to improve your running technique.
Running techniques are no hidden secrets but it seems that only a few runners know the important role it plays in achieving that great run. Most runners would focus on the shoes, the training, finishing at the fastest time, covering a longer distance, or removing excess fat, without even a slight thought on the right way of doing it. These elements, such as good posture and proper breathing, are just some of the things that can help you improve your running.
Tips for Correct Running Technique
1. Correct Running Posture
Good posture is directly proportional to the efficiency of your running technique. According to running expert Bob Glover, correct running posture is a skill that should be mastered to improve running which covers everything from head to toe. In general, good posture involves having a reasonably straight spine. However in running, there’s a lot more to note than just having a straight back.
When running, you should keep your head up and your eyes focused on the horizon. Sprinters sometimes keep their heads down to increase the speed, but a study at Central Washington University in Ellensburg found that keeping your head up improves your oxygen intake.
The shoulders should be relaxed by letting them hang loosely and parallel to the ground. Your back and torso should be in the upright position and leaning a bit forward. It should be aligned with your hips and should allow you to see your shoelaces.
Leaning too far forward or far back may stress your back and leave you with lower back pain afterwards. Your arms should be close to your body and your elbows should be bent at a 90o angle. As you run, your hands should also be relaxed and not clenched.
2. Foot Strike
Foot strike is simply the landing of the foot on the ground while running. Foot strike covers three patterns – the heel, the mid foot, and the forefoot. The pattern most advised by coaches and common to athletes is the heel strike.
The heel strike is simply transferring the weight of your body to the forefoot. The heel strikes the ground then rolls the body mass to the forefoot as you take another step. This reduces impact stress and utilizes the power from elastic recoil in the tendons. During heel strike, avoid excessive angle on your heel. The heel should be kept low to the ground to avoid injuries on the calf and the Achilles.
In 2004, a study conducted in Japan that measures the foot strike patterns of runners showed that most of the runners are heel strike runners. The same study showed that there were a large number of mid foot runners in the batch of runners who finished first. It was concluded that most mid foot runners are fast runners.
The foot strike pattern of your choice depends solely on how you normally land on your foot. May it be on the heel, mid foot or forefoot; this does not necessarily have a large impact on your speed. Rather, knowing what pattern of foot strike you do helps you decide the type of shoe to use thus enabling you to run smoothly during a race.
3. Breathing Habits
Running naturally causes one to get out of breath. While running, the body uses a large amount of oxygen for the muscles to operate. Knowing the right breathing technique will help extend the limit of the respiratory system and increase one’s endurance.
While walking, it is normal to breathe through the nose. However, while running, it is advised to breathe using the mouth. The mouth is a larger cavity than the nostrils thus enabling one to intake a larger amount of oxygen and release of carbon dioxide. More so, runners should also breathe from their belly and not from their chest. Such type of breathing is practiced by operatic singers which allow them to hold a note for a longer time.
Long and deep breaths should be avoided and rather take in short and shallow breaths. The breathing should also be consistent with your steps in a certain rhythm depending on your pace.
4. Leg Motion and Arm Movement
Apart from having a good posture and proper foot strike, you should also take note of your stride and arm movement. These should always be coordinated with your running rhythm. Over-striding may cause injuries on both your hamstrings and knees. Over-striding happens when you land your feet in front of you instead of under you. When over-striding happens, you fail to bend your knees causing poor blood circulation in your legs.
As stated previously, the arms and legs should be bent at a 90o angle. The more you bend your arms and legs, the better swinging motion it does which lessens the work your muscles do when you run.
The body or torso should be your center point as your arms swing side by side and straight forward. The swing of your arms depends on the elbows, when your elbow reached your body; this is the time when it should swing back, alternating with your other arm.
Running is practiced and not taught. It should be learned while applying all the right running techniques most suited for you as a runner. Injuries will almost always happen, but with the proper training and perfecting the right technique, you will surely have more years of running ahead.
Harper, K.G.(2006). Running Faster and Easier Through Improved Economy and Biomechanics: A Kinesiological Analysis. Brigham Young University Hawaii.
Muller, Karen. (n.d.). Ideal Running Technique:Keypoints. Retrieved December 21, 2012 from www.completeperformance.co.nz/run-coaching.html
MacKenzie, Brian. (2007). The Basics of Pose Running Techniques. CrossFit Journal Article Reprint. First Published in CrossFit Journal Issue 64 retrieved December 16, 2012 from
Author Kurt Lao is the Editor of weight loss product reviews resource: WeightRater.com. He has written several product reviews to his credit and serves as a contributor to some of the top health and weight loss blogs online.