If you are looking into becoming a better, faster runner than usual, then you have probably done a lot to train yourself to be the best that you can be. In other words, you have probably done your fair share of taking pre-workout supplements or finding a weight loss and fitness app to motivate you to go for your goals. Anything to get that good running physique, you would do everything in your power to do so.
That said, with all of these different strategies to get in top shape, perhaps you have come across the idea of getting a good form running. You might even be surprised to know that it can help you be a better runner; believe or not, many athletes do not realize the importance of a good running form and they might choose otherwise to run improperly and be comfortable in that way. However, everything little thing goes a long way, so it is a good idea to change up your running habit, that is, if you have a running form that could be improved on.
If you are certain just how to get started on getting a proper running form, then we got you covered! Read on to learn more about how to get started, as well as the benefits to doing so, physically and mentally. Soon enough, you will be able to run even better, faster, and more comfortably than ever before.
Let’s get right into it!
First things first, it is necessary to address the positive aspects when it comes to achieving a good running form. It is surprising to see that many people, including professional athletes, who do not learn the importance of doing so, for the sake of not only enhanced performance, but also good health.
Knowing the essentials of how a proper running form can help you become better will go a long way, and we feature some of the top benefits of doing so:
Especially if you are a sloucher, or someone who tends to hunch over while running, you are doing a disservice to your body by restricting the airflow to your lungs. While it is true that you naturally get tired over time while running and that slouching over takes away some of the pain, doing so does not help you go faster or more efficiently, which is a shame.
That said, having a good running form (particularly that of good posture), will make a huge difference. No matter how difficult it can be to change, it will be worth it in the end.
Having a proper running form also has the ability to decrease the possibility of getting sore the following day, let alone any injuries.
Especially when it comes to heel striking and how the mechanics of your body functions, knowing how to move will make it so that your muscles do not work unnecessarily harder than needed, therefore putting less strain on the body and keeping everything in check for you to keep going, in a safe and effective manner.
Much of running form is due to just how relaxed you are: some people have the unfortunate case of being too stiff and tight with the muscles, which subsequently cause them to potentially spasm and cramp up. In the end, you end up more tired sooner than what you could have done more so, e.g. go an extra mile or two.
Much of tight running form is focused on the upper body, surprisingly: as mentioned in the first point, having not-so-good posture can lead to strain on the lungs, which have to work extra hard to ensure that enough oxygen is getting into the body. The chest can have some difficulties if this issue were to happen. Hence, by doing your best to relax yourself (either through stretching or therapy), it can be very helpful during future runs.
General as this sounds, having a good running form not only benefits you with running, but also with everyday activities, such as walking, doing chores, and otherwise presenting yourself to the public. Again, a good running posture will carry into having a good posture in other situations, thereby making you look taller and slimmer than otherwise slouching.
In addition, a proper running form can mentally help you out: as you are taking in more oxygen due to better posture, you breathe more and have more energy to do things, thereby making you feel better about yourself when it comes to accomplishing your goals and dreams, e.g. work, sports, doing errands at home.
If our tips on benefitting from a good running form were not enough, then check out this useful video here to be convinced otherwise:
Now that you have a solid grasp of why a good running form matters, it is time to get right down into the basics of how to achieve it. While you might find it challenging at first to go from your usual, comfortable way of running to something more unfamiliar and uncomfortable at times, it is necessary to understand that it will work out the best for you and your running performance.
That said, here are some tips and tricks to slowly ease into that proper running form for better speed and efficiency in running:
This relates to having a good posture, as it requires you to keep your head up and neck locked in for optimal running performance. You might be tempted to look down and subsequently bend your neck over upon getting tired or otherwise to make sure that you are not tripping on anything on the ground, e.g. rocks, branches, etc.
However, forcing yourself to look up and scan the distance ahead of you will not only help you go faster and more effectively, but also give you a better idea of how much you will cover in the steps to follow. There is also a psychological effect to doing so, all for the good benefit.
Likewise related to good posture, making sure that your shoulders are back and leveled with your head (and not otherwise hunched over) will make a huge difference in feeling comfortable when running, rather than giving you unpleasant back pain later down the line.
Make sure that your shoulders are right in line with your head, specifically the ears, and you should have no problem going longer than usual. Plus, it gives you more air to breathe, as your lungs will expand and take in more oxygen to fuel you for long distance runs.
You might think that clenching your fists while running helps drive more power forward, but in fact, it can actually be hindering you from doing so. This issue relates back to tensing up and not relaxing your body that it causes your body to tire out quickly, since you are putting so much energy into keeping your fists tightened.
Therefore, the rule of thumb is to allow yourself to loosen up and let go of that grip. While it does not necessarily need to be completely a non-fist, making a sort of half fist (i.e. with your fingers half-stretched out and palms opened, as if in a semi-karate stance) can increase good running form significantly, all the while producing a kind of aerodynamics which allow you to slice through the air like a professional athlete.
Many runners make the mistake of believing that longer strides equate with better running, but that is simply not the case. In fact, over-striding leads to overcompensation on the joints and muscles in your body (particularly the legs), as well as unnecessary pounding which can cause sport-induced injuries to happen, sometimes even chronic.
Hence, it is best to avoid over-striding for the sake of not only a better running form, but also for your physical health—after all, you only get one body to work with in your lifetime!
Similar to the previous point, it is essential not to overshoot your knee, for it is also a joint that is complex and very difficult to repair, should you get the classic issue of runner’s knee.
That said, it is important to keep your thigh (quadriceps and hamstrings) right before the knee, not over it, when in the middle of a stride. By doing so, you are ensuring that your knee does not take the full impact and that it can bounce back easily with minimum pressure.
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On the contrary to over-striding, taking quick and short steps is instead more effective for the sake of a safe and solid run. This is not to say, however, that you take baby steps, but rather shorter steps comparable to long strides.
In addition, make sure to keep yourself in check by having your feet kick off right behind you, but not so much to the point of overcompensating for the stride. This is simply a matter of being able to push through and back in a solid manner, as means of propelling your forward better. Trust us: you will see a great difference in your form!
Especially when it comes to running downhill (where much of running form goes downhill, figuratively speaking), it is best to prevent yourself from pounding too hard on the pavement, since much of it can be very taxing for your joints and muscles, particularly your knee. It can all be too tempting to slap away, but it is important to know that it does more harm than good for you.
The way to remedy this is to really be conscious and control your movements when going down the hills. Keep the steps quick and light, without too much time on the ground. Overall, being self-aware of your movements will help you out this way, so that you can be well on your way to an effective running form.
For a visual way of seeing what to expect in a good running form, check out this video here:
Sometimes, you might have little to no control over which body parts you deem problematic for achieving your proper running form. It can be an extremely frustrating experience, but that is why we are here to help you out with some troubleshooting that can go on during the running workout. Here are just a few:
Of course, this point relates to the problem of poor posture, which also affects one’s daily lifestyle as much as one’s running. To get a better posture (and airflow), it is a matter of willing yourself to look up, pull your shoulders back, and breathe deeply to take full advantage of it.
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Now, it can be a hassle that you are probably naturally tense for most of the time, even at rest. An unfortunate case, but otherwise something that can be remedied through a couple of simple, but useful techniques.
One such way is to stretch a lot, whether through pre-workout and warm down sessions or through more-pressured ways such as foam rollers and professional massages. Any way to make sure that you are not as tense will make the whole situation favorable for you in running.
As previously mentioned, the most-effective method is to do the opposite by taking quick, shorter strides. Although they do not need to be itty-bitty steps, they are better than overcompensating while on a run.
Overall, having a good running form has its benefits for the sake of your physical performance and health. While challenging to achieve at first, mastering it will be a rewarding feeling in the end.
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