Get faster and stronger with correct running form

You’ve bought the expensive kicks and landed on a scenic route for your morning run and soon you’ll be ready for your first racing experience. Don’t expect Rocky levels just yet. There’s more to running than hitting the road, however; one of the most important factors being running form.

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Research says that proper running form reduces risk of injuries. During a run, microtears form in the muscles (microtearing is a perfectly normal process seasoned runners are aware of). Improper running form can lead to microtears healing imperfectly, causing knots to form in the muscles runners most rely upon.

My experience with running is showing me that there’s more to this sport than meets the eye. Learning about running form has taken me from a self-confessed couch potato who couldn’t even run 100 metres to jogging before 5am every morning in a month. The wheel is coming full circle as I prepare to train 5km every morning.

I didn’t even know I was running wrong when I began. I have a “duck walk” which becomes a duck run while jogging. Of course, this hampers technique, which in turn affects speed and performance and tires me out faster. This excellent article by movement specialist David Reavy explains how the duck walk injures you. Correcting the duck feet was no overnight task (I am still working on it). Meanwhile, I am falling in love with this sport. Proper running form will have you taking to it faster than you’d imagine. When I run, my feet slant outward. This is how your feet shoulder be landing…

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“It’s important to stay relaxed in the shoulders, hands, eyes, forehead and arms, and keep the elbow at the 90-degree position,” says US-based triathlon coach Marc Evans.
Here are the key components to running right.

Alignment of the body

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Keep the centre of body mass (CBM) over the leg making contact with the ground (foot-strike). Having strong hip stabilizers is very important as each foot balances the body on impact. Instability will waste your energy. For the ideal alignment, seasoned runners keep the front of the hips and torso slightly forward so that the foot lands more directly under the body, allowing your hips to extend freely as the leg pushes backward, propelling you forward. This stance generates a lot of power.

Position of the head

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Keep the head in a neutral, relaxed position with the eyes looking forward. Align the back of the head with the spine. If you look down, your back will arch forward, causing you to lean over at the hips. It works for beginners runners to get their focus, but demands more energy per foot-strike. Don’t let your head position become unbalanced; doing so will only lead to more asymmetrical movements elsewhere.

It is best to keep your head aligned vertically, but comfortably neutral with your spine.

Arm position and movement

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Your arms should be loosely flexed with the elbows at about 90 degrees. Some athletes believe the arms help you drive forward, but that’s not the case with endurance running. They provide balance, however, and should be in tempo with the leg movement. Your elbows should be close to the sides of your body (but not touching). Some runners hold their arms too low. Not only does this use a lot of energy, it tenses the muscles. You’ll know when you’ve found the right position because it feels comfortable.

Thumb and index finger

Cup the middle, ring, and small fingers loosely against the palm of the hand. The tip of the thumb should be placed under the index finger at the middle joint. This helps maintain proper arm position, balance and relaxation. With your thumb and index finger in the correct position, bring the top side of your thumb to the middle of your chest (on the appropriate side) during the forward arm swing. You don’t necessarily have to touch your chest, but the motion of each arm should be directed toward the middle of the chest area on that side.

Now, Wonder Woman here isn’t displaying good running form…

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Wrists

With the hands gently cupped and the proper thumb and index finger positioning, the wrist should be loose but controlled. This position is called tapping.

Personal coach Matt Cama, founder of TBTC (total body transformation camp) demos all these running form pointers in this crisp video.

Tips for relaxed running

  1. Keep the face and eyes loose
  2. Relax the leg muscles and gently flex the ankle (toes towards the shin) during the forward swing phase
  3. Avoid raising or tightening your shoulders
  4. Keep the arms, wrists, hands, and fingers relaxed and unrestrained.

When you run tomorrow morning, observe all these aspects. Proper running form is all about learning the technique and applying it to your training, whether it’s for a 5K, a marathon or the Ironman.

by Kasmin Fernandes

(A version of this post was first published on Alldatmatterz.com)

Via #daily-prompt Wheel

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