How to Improve Running Form
What to know
- There is no perfect form.
- Everyone’s body’s are different and so the goal is to run in the most efficient way that your body can.
- There is no reason to mimic a professional runner, as it might not be possible for your body!
- Anyone’s form can be improved.
- Simply running more can contribute to improving your form.
Cues for good form
- Head up
- Eyes forward
- Chest proud
- Arms & shoulder relaxed
- Hands relaxed & in light cup
- Breathing, in through nose & out through mouth
- No over-striding, Small Steps
- Feet should strike the ground under the body
- Think about Only moving forward, not up & down
- Slight lean forward of the entire body
A General Misconception
“Heel Striking is Bad”
A common misconception is that “Heel Striking is Bad” . This is not entirely true. The main problem associated with heel striking is over-striding. We want the foot to hit the ground underneath the body. So, Shorten that stride and you are not getting injured? Then, Heel striking is okay!
Heel striking does result in less “give” when we hit the ground. When we land on the mid-foot, our body manages the load a bit better. So if you are heel striking but constantly getting injured, maybe a switch to the mid-foot strike would be wise!
What we can do to improve form
When it comes to improving your form. There are 4 things you can do! Strengthen your muscles, increase your muscles flexibility, mimic running through other movements and just run more!!!
These exercises can be completed as a session in itself or a few could be chosen as part of a warm up for your run!
- Plank (30s-60s Holds)
- Side plank (20s-60s Holds)
- Bird Dogs- Weighted or bodyweight (10-20 reps)
- Dead bugs (10-20 reps).
- Glute Bridges/ Single Leg Glute bridges (10-20 Reps)
- Lunges (8-20 reps)
- Hip thrusters (8-12 Reps)
- Squats (6-12 Reps)
- Lateral Leg lifts (8-20 Reps)
- Lateral Banded walks (10-20 Reps)
- Clam Shells – Bodyweight or banded (8-12 reps)
- Calf Raises- weighted or bodyweight (10-20 Reps)
- Bent knee Calf Raises (10-20 reps)
- Jumping rope/Skipping (30s-60s)
- Lunges Weighted or bodyweight (8-12 reps)
- Straight leg raise (8-20 reps)
- Banded Standing Knee lift (8-20 reps)
- Psoas Hold (30-60s)
- Deadlift, Weighted (8-12 Reps)
- Romanian Deadlifts, Weighted (8-12 Reps)
- Nordic Curls, Dumbbell or Banded (8-12 Reps)
- Good Mornings, Weighted (8-12 Reps)
- Kettle Bell swings (10-20 Reps)
Holding each stretch for 20-40 seconds. These can be completed post-run, on a rest day or before going to bed!
- Cobra Pose
- Cat-Cow 5-10 reps
- Child’s Pose – hold for as long as you want!
- Standing figure 4 stretch
- Lying figure 4 Stretch
- Pigeon pose
- 90-90 glute stretch
- Downward Dog with Calf pumps
- Lunging Calf Stretch
- Calf Stretch off ledge (We love this one!)
- Half kneeling hip flexor stretch
- Knee to chest stretch
- Pigeon pose
- Kneeling half split
- Standing Hamstring stretch
Mimicking Running through other movements
These exercises are very well known in the running world. They are great for doing as part of warm ups or after an easy run. The best movements are ones that incorporate the full body (kinetic chain) as this will prevent too much repetitive stress being put on any one muscle. The best exercises are:
- Exaggerated Skipping
- Strides (5 x 10-20 seconds short sprints)
- A skips
- B Skips
- C Skips
- Running on the spot
Extra Tricks to incorporate into your runs!
These movements are best to do in moderation. Choosing a couple of mins during your run where you are going to really concentrate on your form is a good idea. We don’t want to force our body into pushing too much and making our body do something that it does not want to do! Bit by bit incorporating these movements will contribute to improving your form. The movements:
- Take more steps per minute. This is Cadence. We ideally want to be in a range of 170-180 steps per minute (Which seems like a lot at first but you will get used to it).
- Run as if you are running on hot coals, quick movement between each foot.
- Try to be as quiet as possible, like you are tip-toeing! No smashing your feet off the ground.
- When you feel like you are getting a bit stiff during your run, speed up for 10 seconds focusing on trying to improve your form and then return back to your normal pace and form. This will activate other muscles to help you feel good again.
It would be unrealistic to incorporate all this information into your runs from now on. The best approach is to incorporate small things, bit by bit. And over time they will become part of your routine. Here is a sample routine for you to try the next tie you are heading out on one of your easy runs!
- Exaggerated skipping
- Hamstring sweeps
During the Run
- Slight lean forward
- Arms and shoulder relaxed
- Shorter Strides
Hold each stretch for 20 seconds. Stretching each major running muscle.
- Calf Stretch off ledge
- Half split hamstring stretch
- Half kneeling hip flexor stretch
- 90-90 Glute stretch
- Standing quad stretch