When it comes down to it, running is mostly about balance. You have to know when to overbalance your feet so that you can run properly! Improving your running form is very similar to learning how to dance or swim- you start with basic positions and then add onto them as you learn more moves.
Running is a pretty fun activity, but unfortunately, not everyone’s legs are made for running. Some people just don’t have muscles in their hips and thighs strong enough to keep up with the rhythm of walking and running, which is why there are so many people who suffer from runners knee and other related conditions.
Other individuals simply do not like running and choose instead to take another leisurely activity such as swimming or cycling.
Luckily, most things are possible to improve upon! If you want to run better than you do now, there are several ways to go about it. In this article, we will talk about some easy ways to improve your running form. We will also discuss some potential causes of poor running form so that you can try to fix those before investing in expensive equipment or training programs.
Your knee joint
The knee is one of the most important joints in your body, as it works with many other muscles to move and stabilize you while you run. When it’s working properly, it gets lots of blood flow and strong nerves that help it function correctly.
If the knee isn’t working well, however, then all sorts of things can happen. You could develop pain or inflammation in the cartilage or bone around the knee, which would make running more difficult and maybe even hurt eventually. You might also be less stable due to poor muscle coordination caused by damage to the nervous system at the level where the knee joins the thigh.
The best way to strengthen this area is through exercise. But before you start doing any kind of strength training, you should know how your current form impacts your knee. This article will go into some detail about what parts of your running form put extra stress on the knees and how you can correct them.
Your lower leg
The second major factor in running form is your lower limb or foot-and-leg structure. You will want to make sure that your feet are parallel with each other and your knees are slightly bent. As you run, your feet should be up and forward, then back and under before rising again. Your legs should also be able to rotate easily so that when you go down they do not get tight.
When you run with poor running form, it can cause injury because your body has to work harder to keep yourself balanced and moving properly. This can result in muscle strain or damage due to fatigue and overuse.
Running shoes play an important role in good running form. Make sure that they are fitted correctly and of adequate width for your foot type.
Your upper leg
The next position of your body that can throw off your form is your lower leg or ankle. This is called foot-striking, as you push yourself forward using your feet.
When you run fast, your legs need to move more quickly, so there is not much time for your feet to stay in contact with the ground. When this happens, your ankles roll up and back which creates some uncomfortable tension in the muscles. These tight muscles are what cause people to get muscle cramps while running – thus, the name!
To improve your running form, work on keeping both your knees and your feet level during the stance phase of your gait. As you bring one leg down after each step, make sure your ankle is fully extended and your toes are pointed slightly outward.
Do not force it–your feet should naturally fall into this position when you have mastered the motion. Once you feel comfortable doing this, you can add weight to be more conscious of this movement.
Your shoulder joints
The next major joint in your running form is your shoulders. You will know you have strong, well-aligned shoulders when you can rotate them up and back while looking forward during a run.
This position helps prevent your pelvis from dropping down as you push off with your leg. It also lengthens your chest and waist muscles, which are important for running fitness.
If you find that your shoulders drop as you run, there may be too much tension in the muscles that hold them up. This could cause pain or injury, so it’s worth working through any tight muscles before heading out for a run.
By practicing good running form, you will feel more balanced and comfortable, which will benefit your overall running health and stamina.
Your elbow joints
The elbows are one of the most important parts of your runing form! When you run, the elbows will close in towards your body as you push off with each leg. As they close, the elbow can get stuck or locked into position. This is called valgus (knocking down) where the knee comes up over the ankle and hyperextension happens at the elbow.
When this happens it must be corrected immediately because when weight is put onto the foot it can cause sprains or tears for the tendon that attaches the calf muscle to the heel bone!
This can also result in joint damage due to cartilage loss. If left untreated long term, it could lead to osteoarthritis and pain. You may end up having to have surgery to fix it!
Running shoes help by giving more cushion which takes away some pressure from the feet but it cannot fully protect you if your own body does not.
Your hand placement
When you run, your hands will make a great transition from up-and-down moving forward, to across your body in a wide squat position, and then back down as they return to their starting position.
The better your running form is, the closer your hands will be together when they are at rest. The more closely your hands are held together, the tighter your chest must become to hold it all in!
Running with overdeveloped muscles can also hurt your knees by forcing them to work harder than needed. That’s why it’s important to know how to improve your running form.
General tips: As mentioned before, keeping your lower legs heavy is one of the most effective ways to improve your running form. By having heavier feet, your leg bones have to work less hard which helps mitigate any knee pain that may arise due to overworked muscles.
Another key component of good running form is letting go of tension you may have built up in various muscle groups. If you have been practicing yoga or other exercises, these would include muscles like your thighs, glutes, and calves.
Your head position
When you run, your body uses several key positions or shapes when moving forward. The biggest is your running start, which happens as soon as you take your first step in walking or running mode.
From there, your feet move up and back under tension, creating an elastic spring return. This is your running stance, and it determines how fast you will be able to go.
Next comes knee flexion, where your knees bend slightly. Then your hips shift upward and backward, under tension, creating your running posture.
As you push off the ground with your foot, your ankle rolls forward until it is almost completely straight. Only then do your thighs rotate forward so that you can lift your torso off of the ground. All these movements happen quickly, but they work together to create momentum!
Your chest moves up and inward, forming what’s called a concave shape. This helps prevent your stomach from rolling in, which would otherwise cause weight imbalance and potentially injury.
And finally, your shoulders drop down and back, relaxing into their own personal groove. This removes pressure from the spine and neck, helping reduce pain or potential injuries.