When it comes to running, everyone’s form is personal and unique. But some elements of proper running technique are universal. Runners can feel better on every run when they focus on the big three: posture, stride and bounce.
What constitutes good running posture?
Good running posture is not very different from good body posture. Standing tall, with an open chest and a head held high. The head is naturally balanced over the shoulders, which align over the hips. As the foot comes underneath, all these elements are in balance, so that no energy is needed to prop up the body. Relax your arms and let them swing naturally at your sides. The elbow joint should create roughly a 90-degree angle, with forearm parallel to the ground. The feet are an area that you may need help from shoes or orthotic inserts.
Long or short strides?
The most natural foot stride when running distance is to land first on the outer rear portion of the heel and then let the foot roll forward and inward until pushoff from the forefoot. Studies have shown that as runners get faster, the stride length shortens. This clearly shows that the key to faster and more efficient running is increased cadence or turnover of feet and legs. A major cause of aches, pains and injuries is a stride length that is too long. When in doubt, it is always better to err on the side of having a shorter stride. You’ll reduce the chance of injury caused by the increased fatigue of over-striding and speed up recovery.
Avoid bouncing too much
When going downhill or during the first mile, runners are usually tempted to bounce. When you do, your head and body move too much. Instead of bouncing and spending energy, save your resources with a quick and light lift-off of the foot. You’ll run about as fast by staying low to the ground and taking more steps (180) per minute. When in doubt, use less energy and stay lower to the ground.
All these tips will probably come naturally to you as you find your rhythm. Practice any change to your cadence and if it’s hurting you, see a specialist.