7 Tips to Improve Your Running Technique

Running is one of the most natural movements of the human body, and it’s part of evolution and our ancestry. In fact, some evolutionary biologists go as far as to claim that running is what made up humans.

Not convinced? Take a look at the Endurance Running Hypothesis Wikipedia Page for more on the subject.

But, here’s the tricky part. Proper running technique does not come naturally to everyone—especially the beginner.  It’s something wel al lhave to work on improving. No exception.

The Universal Laws Of Proper Running Form

Before I proceed, let me clearly state that there’s no such a thing as a perfect running form. Runners are individuals. They come in different sizes, shapes, and proportions, so it’s virtually impossible to prescribe one style that fits everyone.

Here’s the deal. Just because there’s not such a thing as the ideal technique, there are a few keys to improving your running form. These tiny tweaks should help you train more efficiently and stay injury-free. That’s where today’s post can come in handy.

The guidelines shared within today’s post will help you better understand your body’s movement so that you can maximize your natural biomechanic efficiencies and minimize what can hinder performance and may lead to injury.

Hopefully, by the end of it, you’ll have a rough guideline on how to start fine-tuning your running technique.

Are you excited?

Then here we go.

Running Form Demystified

Also known as running mechanics, running technique, or style, running form refers to how you run. The main mechanics include posture, foot strike, arm position, cadence, etc. Each of these affects your running comfort, efficiency, and performance.

Your particular running biomechanics are determined by a host of factors, such as your strength, your movement habits, mobility, and flexibility of certain muscles, how your body is built, etc.

Here’s what you need to do to build proper form.

1. Your Posture

Proper posture helps keep your spine in proper alignment and increase overall efficiency, which, in turn, helps  prevent back pain, muscle soreness, and injury.

Here are a few tips on how to build proper posture.

  • Run tall. This helps get you in an upright, non-slouching posture, which is ideal for running.
  • Keep your head balanced, shoulders back and under your ears, and pelvis straight and neutral. Avoid sticking your butt out or arching your back.
  • Engage your core muscles. A strong core is a key to efficient running.

2. Your Head

To ensure proper head position while running, do the following:

(1)    Keep your head high and centered between the shoulders.

(2)    Gaze directly roughly 10 to 15 feet ahead of you.

(3)    Never look at your feet as doing leads to slouching, which is bad form at its worst.

(4)    Don’t tilt your chin up or down—that usually occurs when we started to get tired.

Doing the above puts your neck in proper alignment with your spine, ensuring adequate flow of energy throughout your body.

3. Your Shoulders

Keep your shoulders loose and relaxed while running. To do that, raise them every 10 minutes or, and then drop them back to their comfy position. Hunching the shoulders results in restricted breathing—all of which contributes to inefficient form.

4. Your Arms

Efficient arm position can increase speed, improve balance, enhances your overall coordination and rhythm.

As a rule, keep your arms bent at a 90-degree angle, with the elbows close to the sides and slightly pointed away from the torso. Pointing your elbows outwards forces your arms to cross your body, which, in turn, slows you down.

Also, swing your arms to the rear, not the front. Imagine you’re trying to elbow someone behind you rather than punching them in front.

5. Your Hands

A common mistake many runners make is clenching the hands into tightly held fists. This is bad because doing so creates tension in the forearms and the shoulders,  spreading to the rest of the body.

Instead, keep your hands cupped as though you’re holding a potato chip without crashing it.

6. Your Knees

Land in front of your center of gravity while keeping the front knee slightly bent. This helps the knees absorb the impact of hitting the ground as well as promote a faster leg turnover. What’s not to like.

7. Your Foot Strike

Foot strike can be broken down into three types: forefoot strike (FFS), mid-foot strike (MFS), and rearfoot strike (RFS).

But which one is the best option?

I hate to break it to you but I don’t have the answer. In fact, the topic of the foot strike is still a sticking point in today’s running world.

What I preach?

What I’d recommend a mid-foot strike, especially for beginner runners. Landing in this manner, I believe, puts the least amount of impact on the ankle and knee while helping you generate a stronger push off.

Also, land as softly as possible—just like a ninja. If you’re making any loud noises, you’re doing it wrong.

What’s more?

Remember to keep your toes pointed in the direction you want to go. Most often, running with the feet pointed in or out may lead to pain and injury, and you don’t want that.

Don’t Force It

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that you should try to land in any specific way, i.e., forefoot, instead, let your physiology dictate your foot strike. In other words, land on the part of your foot that’s in line with your genetics and speed.

As I stated previously (and in my other posts), every runner is unique. You have your physiology and biomechanics and your bone and muscle structure. Thus, what works for me may not the best course of action for you.

Still confused?

I reckon as a beginner, foot strike is not something you should worry about from the get-go. Just focus on what feels natural for you and take it from there. The rest is detail.

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I hate to sound redundant, but remember that the above form principles aren’t written in stone. Do what feels most natural to you.

Do not try to force your physiology to match what you think should be the right way of doing things.

Feel free to leave your comments and ideas in the comments section below.

In the meantime,  thank you for reading my post.

Keep Running Strong.

David D.