With so many new runners having joined our club recently and also as a reminder to all of us I have decided to write a short article on Correct Running Form. I often observe others running and regularly see improper posture even in our accomplished athletes. By adopting a better running form/style it would not only improve your running but could also help to prevent strains and stresses caused by improper balance. Proper form will also help to keep those all-important airways open by ensuring your lungs have as much space to expand as possible
Keep your back straight and your chest high. Bend your elbows at a right angle, but do not lock them in this position. Hold your hands loosely, so your thumb and forefinger touch. Don’t clench your fists or point your fingers stiffly. Rotate your wrists so your thumbs are on top and keep your wrists relaxed. Hands should not cross the midline of your chest. Imagine your arms are pendulums. On the downswing, your hands should drive to just past your hips. Tuck in your buttocks so your hips are under and forward. There are three types of foot strike: heel-ball, ball-heel and mid-foot, (the whole foot comes in down in one unit). Stick with the foot strike that is the most comfortable for you. Your foot should strike the ground under your center of gravity and while your leg is moving backward to minimize braking. (I call this body flight – where you lead with your center and not your chest or your legs) Foot strike ends as you push off the ball and toe of your foot. When you kick your leg behind you, try to lift your heel to almost knee level. Point your toes straight forward so your feet land in a straight line.
Quicken your arm drive ensuring that the arm movement is straight forward and backwards not across the body and use them to give you the momentum to get up the hill. Keep your body at a slightly forward lean (be careful not to bend too much at the waist as this will restrict the space for your lungs making it harder to breathe). Shorten your stride. Lift your knees higher so that your feet come off the ground a little more. The steeper the hill, the more you should shorten your stride and lift your knees. Keep your head up and eyes focused on an object 20 to 30 meters ahead.
Most people tend to lean backwards when running downhill which causes extra stress on your legs especially your knees. It takes practice to run downhill effectively and to overcome the fear of falling on your face. The action to use when running downhill is the same as for running on the flat (see above), only you will need to actively concentrate on ensuring the body is straight and that you are leading with your hips see body flight. All to often I see athletes get to the top of a downhill and change their posture by leaning backwards. Let gravity help you and by lengthening your stride you can remain in control. Remember that most people tend to run legs first downhill, which effectively puts the brakes on valuable time and places can be gained if you run freely downhill.
Till next time