Last Updated: February 9th, 2021
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Have you ever observed people running?
Does everyone look the same?
NO, definitely not.
So how would you say, who is running better?
Is it just the speed that matters?
Or, rather the speed is just the result of your stamina?
Is there anything else which is determining your speed?
Exactly that is the Running Form.
Your running form is extremely crucial for running right and injury-free.
5 Tips to improve your running form
When you run your entire body is working to support your movements.
It is just not about landing on your foot correctly but also to use the rest of your body correctly.
Your entire line of motion can be divided into head movement, arms movement, torso, leg movement, and posture.
When we talk about the running form, we say how each part is moving to support your running.
An incorrect form can be a hindrance to your performance. It may cause:
- Reduced speed
However, fixing your form is not as tough as you think.
Here are some simple changes that can be very effective for your running.
When you are running you are doing something awesome.
Feel the joy, take the pride, and lift your head up high!
Keeping your head up boosts confidence naturally, but this is not the only reason why you should keep your head up.
Well scientifically, when you are running, this increases the demand for oxygen.
Your muscles are working hard and need more oxygen.
This is why your heart rate goes up higher and you breathe fast.
If you run with the chin down, the amount of air that you are taking in reduces.
While running, sometimes it becomes very difficult to resist looking down.
So the trick here is always to maintain your focus 2-3 feet in front of you.
2. Arms and shoulder
Shrugging or rounding your shoulders will squeeze your chest and impacts your breathing.
While running you cannot keep your shoulder blades stiff.
Let’s do a small experiment:
Try to make your shoulder stiff for a min…
What do you feel? You are exerting a lot of effort…right?
Also, there is stiffness in your neck and back.
So, do you think you can run like this?
The best is to keep your shoulders relaxed.
Now, how to maintain a balance?
Try this simple exercise…
Try to squeeze your shoulder blades to your back, as if the back muscles are elevator doors and you are trying to close them.
The same is with your arms.
You cannot make your arms too stiff and run.
Time for another simple experiment:
Case 1: Have a tight fist, feel the power in your arms, and forearms and try to run.
Case 2: Relax your arms, keep them at your waist, and just gently touch the forefinger and thumb. You do not have to make a fist. Now try to run.
So which of the two is easier?
The later one…right?
The most ideal scenario is to keep your arms relaxed.
Your arm should be at the waist level…not hanging by the side of your body, nor squeezed too hard near your chest.
Imagine that you are holding a wafer gently with your thumb, index finger, and middle finger.
That is how your fist should be.
Do you know your arms can actually make you faster?
Your arms and feet move very much in a synchronized way.
If you swing your arms faster your feet also move fast.
This is a great way to boost your pace.
Also, when you are swinging your arms, swing from the shoulders and not from the elbow.
“Engage your core” is the most common phrase used by most coaches.
Essentially the core plays a critical role be it your day to day activity or a HIIT workout.
You just cannot ignore the core.
Your core is the most integral part of your torso.
It includes the major muscles:
- Lower back
- Pelvic floor
A strong core will stabilize your torso.
This will give you a good posture and obviously imparts more strength and stamina.
True, you are directly now using your core while running so how to keep it engaged.
Try to pull in your belly button, just like you are trying to button a washed pair of jeans.
It does create tension around your abs and lower back.
This is the tension that you need to maintain while running.
While you engage your core, make sure you are able to breathe normally.
If not, then you can relax a bit.
4. Lower body
Undoubtedly this is where all the action happens.
When you run all the muscles of your legs and major joints -knee and ankle are rigorously working.
The impact of running is also borne by these muscles.
Here is what you can do to prevent injury and also improve your speed:
While running, do not lift your knee very high. This will waste your effort.
Keep short stride
Keep your strides small.
When your strides are bigger you will be stretching your knee completely and landing on your heels.
This acts as a braking system and will tend to reduce your speed.
When you keep your stride small, your feet lands closed to your body.
This will make your knee will be bent and 90 degrees angle and you will be landing on the mid-foot to forefoot.
The ball of the foot will be below the knees.
This action will make you faster.
The cadence is the number of steps taken in a minute.
The ideal case if however 180 steps per min but that takes time to reach.
The best way to improve your cadence is to sync your arm swing to a fast beat.
This will definitely make your legs move faster.
However, have patience and gradually improve your cadence.
If your cadence increases, there are lesser chances of over-striding
This is another critical factor that impacts your running.
The running gait can be defined as how your foot rolls when you land.
The running gait is categorized into 3 major types.
Overpronation – In this condition your foot roll inwards more than 15%.
Underpronation or Supination – Here the foot roll outwards.
Neutral – Here the foot rolls inwards less than 15%.
Overall, overpronation is the most common type, and more than 70% of people are overpronated.
The pronation is fixed when you are a baby and just started to walk.
You cannot completely change your pronation type.
However, wearing the right kind of shoes support your pronation does help.
This will prevent too much rolling of your feet on either side and keep you safe from injuries and pain.
Keeping your core engaged and shoulders stretched does half the work for you.
When you are running, all you need to care about your inclination.
You really cannot run with an erect back.
Try to keep your body inclined forward 8-10 degrees from your hip.
This posture will also make your stride shorter.
Common running form mistakes which beginners make
When you are a new runner, you are really not much aware of your running form.
Well, that is not a big deal…you are just starting off…
You tend to make mistakes.
Sometimes it is because you are not aware of it or sometimes you just want to stay in your comfort zone.
But the sooner you correct the better it is to eliminate injury.
Here are some of the most common ones.
Running with your chin dropped
It is more comfortable to drop your head.
But the problem here is, it restricts the amount of air you breathe in.
The decrease in oxygen makes it difficult for you to sustain running fast and thereby reduces your speed.
Apart from that, when you are running with your head held high, chin up, it makes you more confident and focussed.
And it is even better if you add a smile 🙂
Running with a stiff body
This happens if you literally follow the good posture rule book.
Of course, it is correct to stand straight and tall.
But come on you are not marching.
You cannot run with a stiff posture.
Running becomes difficult when your back is stiff and erect and if your core is really tight.
If you are running with a tightly closed fist, you are making it difficult for yourself.
Keep your shoulders, back and arms loose and flexible but definitely not slouching.
Taking giant strides
I think this is the most common mistake.
It is a misconception that if you take big steps you will be moving faster.
When you are running by taking giant steps, you will be landing on your heels.
And this actually slows down your running.
So, take smaller steps and try to increase your cadence.
Next time when you are running, try to analyze your running.
See, if you are making the same mistakes.
Take the corrective action and I am sure you will see a huge difference in your running.
It will definitely be easier and cause less strain.
5 Running form drills to improve your running form
When you start your run, you are fresh and active and all set to zap through.
The challenging part is towards the end of the race.
You tend to get tired over a period of time.
With your body even your mind gets tired.
And that is the time where you need to play your masterstroke.
Are you really prepared to handle this pressure?
How to keep your mind focused and keep running?
And that is why these drills are so important.
These drills help you to maintain the coordination of your mind and body.
1. High Knees
As the name says so is the drill, moving with lifting your knees really high.
- Keep your shoulders relaxed.
- Start with lifting your knees up to your waist level.
- Land on your mid-foot to forefoot.
- Repeat with the other leg.
- You can perform this drill for 30-50 m 2 times.
This drill helps you practice landing on the forefoot, improves your cadence, and strengthens your hamstrings.
2. A Skips
This is high knee skipping.
- Skip with lifting your foot to the waist level.
- Land on the mid-foot.
- You can perform this drill for 30-50 m 2 times.
These are great to practice landing on the forefoot, improves cadence and coordination.
3. B Skip
In this drill, you are skipping with high knees and then extending the leg forward.
- Skip with lifting the knee as high as waist.
- Before landing extends the knee in front of you and lands on your forefoot.
- Repeat the same with the other leg.
- Cover a distance 30-50 m 2 times.
The B skip is a great workout for the hamstring and improves coordination.
4. Butt Kicks
Well, you are really not kicking the butt, but raising your feet high enough.
- Start by taking small steps.
- With each stride, lift your knee behind such that your heel touches your butt.
- Repeat with the other leg.
- Cover a distance of 30-50 m 2 times
This drill really improves the hamstring, quadriceps, and hip flexors strength and flexibility.
It also helps in keeping smaller strides.
5. Straight Leg Bounds
- Keep your legs straight.
- Jump on one foot while extending the other leg straight in front of you.
- Repeat with the other foot.
- Cover a distance of 30-50 2 times.
This drill helps in building up the coordination and also works on glutes.
Does running form matter?
Yes, it plays a big role in your performance.
Both your speed and stamina get affected by your running form.
The right form is also important for injury-free running.
How to run slow with good form?
Would you believe if I say running slow is equally difficult?
Many of you will disagree.
But it is true… running slow while maintaining a proper form is indeed very tough.
Most runners opt for slow running on their rest day or as a break from the intense running.
But they have to make sure their form does not go for a toss!!
It is often the case when you decrease your pace, you go easy on your body and it becomes sluggish.
To strike the balance is difficult.
Here are some tips which you can try.
Reducing your cadence makes your pace come down.
However, do not reduce your cadence too much.
In stead try to make your strides shorter than your regular stride.
Your arm swing impacts your speed a lot.
The faster is your arm swing the faster you move.
So, if you are able to restrict your arm swing you can have a tab on your pace.
You can use a metronome and select the required bpm.
Blogger and a fitness enthusiast. She loves running and Yoga and everything in between. She started running to manage her weight and to eat to her heart’s content. A true foodie at heart she shares whatever knowledge she has gained throughout the years about weight management and fitness.