Running with proper form is important to lower your risk of an injury, whether it's runner's knee, shin splints or a stress fracture. Using good technique also helps your body conserve precious energy when out on the track or on the road. Here are three tips for running more efficiently from private coaching company, CoachUp.
Find Your Natural Arm Swing
Despite being a leg-centric exercise, the arms are essential in helping propel the body forward. Don't think of arms as just being along for the ride. They should be bent at around a 45-degree angle and should steadily swing back and forth from the shoulder without any side-to-side motion of the forearms. Think about poking something right behind you with your elbow, and then let your arm come forward naturally, without force.
Take Smaller, Quicker Steps
Novice runners often think that taking bigger steps will help them cover more ground. In reality, this typically results in over-striding, causing extreme heel landing that increases the amount of force traveling through the body.
It's important to think about your foot landing more towards your body just slightly and increasing the rate at which your feet are turning over. Taking smaller, quicker steps will actually help increase efficiency. This is especially important to focus on when running uphill, when fatigue tends to set in and the proper form begins to break down.
Stand up Straight
When on the road, runners often allow themselves to hunch over or lean too far forward, especially when dealing with energy loss and fatigue. Many times this is a result of the hip flexors being too tight and the glute muscles not being developed enough. If you find this happening mid-run, remind yourself to "run tall."
Exercises like "The Leg Swing" in the video above are a great way to develop proper running form and alleviate stress from strained muscles before your workout. Think about activating the glute muscles prior to heading out for your run to help propel you into each subsequent step and you'll perform better. At the end of your run, wrap things up with the lunge and a reverse form drill in order to open up the front of the hips.
Don't be shy to commission a friend or family member to take a video of you running, so you can go back and correct inefficiencies or errors in your form. When in doubt, you can also seek the assistance of a team coach or book a session with a private running coach to make sure your form isn't hindering you from running faster.
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