There is more to knowing the right running techniques and how to run than just putting on your sports wears, hitting the track and carrying out what feels natural. Studies have shown that the right running technique puts a lower amount of stress on the body and reduces the risk of injuries, allowing runners to train harder, run faster and go longer.
When it comes to having the right running techniques, simple adjustments to your posture, stride turnover, foot strikes and your arm swings can work the magic. Are you a beginner? Or are you only interested in learning about the right running techniques, avoiding injuries and becoming a better runner? Stay tuned! This article will provide you with the necessary information required to achieve your best race results.
THE QUALITIES OF THE RIGHT RUNNING TECHNIQUE
Have you been running the right way you should? How can you figure out the right running form from the wrong ones? The following attributes of good running technique might be able to provide you the answers.
Your running technique solely depends on your body posture. The quality of your body posture will determine how efficient your running technique will be. Since your body posture is a key determinant, the question that comes to mind is “how will you identify a good body posture?”
Of course, you have to know what it entails before you can practice it or turn it into a habit. A good running posture is one with a fairly straight spine (not too straight or too bend). A good posture will not only improve your running efficiency but also improve blood circulations to your muscles, organs and allow the supply of oxygen to your brains.(1)
A good running technique is one which a runner can easily adapt to and not too demanding to the extent of increasing the runner’s risk of injuries. To adopt the right running technique, you will also have to be flexible. The more flexible your muscles, joints, and tendons are, the lower the limit in your range of motion. You can’t just sleep and wake up being flexible; you have to work it out. A good daily exercise and stretches can help increase your flexibility and reduce your risk of injuries.
Good Leg Position
One of the major causes of knee and hamstring injuries is over striding. You are over-striding when your feet is landing in front of you instead of landing directly under you. A good leg motion will not only prevent injuries but also ensure the circulation of blood to your legs.
Good Upper and Lower Body Coordination
With a good running technique, your upper and lower body should be doing the same amount of work. The work of running is spread all over your body when your upper and lower body is working together in unison. This simple division of labor reduces the workload on any single muscle group, making you run faster and better.
This is the number of strides taken per minute. The lower your cadence, the longer the time your foot spends on the ground and the higher the energy your legs will spend in order to carry your body weight. Maintaining a good cadence (about 85 - 90 strides per min. on each leg) is a key to a faster pace, reduced fatigue, and fewer injuries, and this can be achieved with the help of a metronome.
Adopting the Right Running Technique
It is one thing to know a good running technique and it’s another thing to know how to apply it for a better running performance. The following qualities are needed on your own part to adopt the right technique for a safe and enjoyable race.
Good Mental Focus:
To make changes or adopt a good running technique, a good mental focus is required. If you want to achieve the best race results, you have to re-educate your body and this cannot be done without using your brain. Determine the adjustments you want to bring into your running technique and allow your mind to tell your body what to do until becomes part and parcel of your running form.
Paying Attention to Your Body:
Pay attention to your body, this will not only help you in injury prevention but also help you in finding a quick solution but easy. When you listen to your body, you are not only going to reduce the amount of money you pay for frequenting a physical therapist but will also help you determine what you are doing wrong and the technique that does not suit your body system.
Good Breathing Habits:
Your body needs a good amount of oxygen to convert the stored fuel in your body into a usable energy. A reduction in the level of oxygen taken into your body will reduce your ability to burn glycogen to provide you with the energy needed to complete the race. This is why you have to inculcate a good breathing habit. Take advantage of your whole lung capacity by breathing as deep as you can.
This includes a relaxed mental ability and positive responses to things going on within and around you. Have a good sense of humor and free your mind from all nervosity and anxiousness about the race. When you are relaxed, your chances of straining a tight muscle will be reduced. This will allow you run efficiently and reduce the amount of time you’ll spend to recover from a race.
Since proper techniques are pivotal of any sport or other activities that have to do with human body movement, learning and improving your running technique is important if you wish to run longer, faster, and avoid running injuries.
If you are however okay with your performance and suffer no pain or running injuries, you do not have to improve or change your running technique. Below are the running techniques you can practice for a better running performance.(2)
Most people run with a stooped or curled posture which may contribute to their running problems. Since a good posture is important to your running form, you have to run with a straight spine by staying upright. To achieve this, always remember to keep your gaze up towards the horizon and stop staring directly at the ground in front of you while running.
Staring directly at the ground increases the risk of slumping forward. Learn to depend on your peripheral vision to see the ground while running. A stiff hip flexor may add to your stooped or curled running posture, click here to watch and learn the following stretch exercises that can help.
While running tall, lean forward without bending at the waist, and take advantage of the gravitational force to move forward rather than relying only on your muscular effort. This simple method (all wrapped up in a pose, fall and pull) will improve your efficiency, reduces the amount of energy you expend on running as well as the risk of injuries.
Use Short, Quick Strides
To most people, longer strides mean a quicker pace and a faster finish time. This is true since stride rate and length determines the speed of a runner. However, runners with longer strides tend to move their legs too far out in front of their bodies (Overstriding). The position at which your foot hits the ground (weather on your forefoot, heels or mid-foot) is affected by the length of your strides. Slamming your heels on the ground while running (caused by overstriding) as shown in the pic.
#1 is a likely cause pain or injuries as it put a lot of stress on various tissues and joints of your leg. Leaning forward from your ankles and having a quick cadence prevents overstriding. Click here to watch and learn how to perform leaning forward from your ankles technique. For a faster pace, safety and running efficiency, always maintain an optimum cadence of about 170-180 strides per minute.(3)
Proper Hand Movement
A good hand movement aids a good forward momentum. When your arms are relaxed and moving properly, the workload given to your lower body is more or less reduced making you feel balance. Your arm movement should be doing what feels natural, moving back and forth and not causing your body to sway from one side to the other. Relax your shoulders and ensure that your elbow is not extended in front of your waist while running even at a full speed.(3)
Since there is no running technique that guarantees a 100% safety, the following tips will help you make most of these running techniques and ensure your safety.(4)
- Experiment: try out the running techniques and determine the one that suits you most. Determine the techniques you really need and take time to practice them.
- Increase your mileage and the amount of time spent on your feet bit by bit.
- Introduce changes and adjustments to your running techniques gradually and allow your body to adjust to your new running form.
- Wear the right type of shoes. Shoes like Vibram Five Fingers or NIKE Free can help develop and strengthen the muscular support in your feet.
- Rest well and allow your body to recover each time you increase your mileage or add speed to your workout.
- Pay attention to your body, avoid running with injuries. Take care of any injury as soon as you can. Seek the help of a physical therapist if the need arises.
The excellent running performance will only be a dream without the right running techniques. It is therefore important to learn and inculcate the right running techniques to bring that dream into reality. Are you are interested in taking your running career to a greater height? Then it's high time you invested in the right running techniques. Even if you are just running for the fun of it, the running efficiency and low risk of injuries it offers are well worth the effort.