Running is an amazing way to keep fit and helps to increase the quality of your overall health. There are so many associated benefits including weight loss, stress relief, it reduces high blood pressure and generally makes us happier.
But it’s important to remember that great running form is essential to drive your performance, and help prevent those unwanted injuries.
Here are some key techniques to focus on when you are running:
1 Head: Look straight ahead and let your gaze guide you. Don’t drop your head to look at your feet, instead look naturally ahead which will keep your neck and back in alignment.
2) Shoulders: Keep them low and loose, not high and tight. They will raise as you get increasingly tired, however make a conscious effort to periodically check their placement, shake them out and roll them back and down to help release tension. Your shoulders should also remain level, and should not dip from side to side (a controlled core helps with this too).
3) Arms: Keep your hands in an unclenched fist with your fingers lightly touching your palms. Your elbows should stay at a 90 degree angle and your arms should remain close to your side. Try and keep them as aerodynamic as possible to avoid excess movement and using unnecessary energy.
4) Hips: Your hips are your centre of gravity - don’t tilt them forward and keep them in a neutral position. If you tilt them forward you will throw the rest of your lower body out of alignment (which could lead to injuries).
5) Torso: Keep your body upright with a slight lean forward from the ankles. Ensure your back is straight and run tall. If you begin to hunch over you will decompress your diaphragm which can restrict your breathing. If this happens take a deep breath and you will feel yourself straighten up again.
6) Legs: Don’t take big strides. Your lower leg should not extend out in front of your body. Keep your steps smaller and lift your knees, but don’t exaggerate the movement too much. Your legs should stay near to your body, and your feet should land directly underneath you.
7) Knees: Don’t bring your knees up too high in front of your body, keep them fairly low.
8) Feet and Ankles: Land on your midfoot or forefoot, and try to avoid landing on your heel or the tip of your toe as this can cause injury. Spring off using your calf muscles to propel you forward on each step. Keep your ankles flexed and land lightly.
Equally as important as running form and posture, is your breathing technique – which can also impact your overall running performance. Here are some expert breathing tips to help you through your next run:
a) Breathe from deep within your belly
Don’t shallow or chest breathe as you’ll restrict the amount of oxygen entering, and carbon dioxide exiting your body. Instead, breathe deep from within the diaphragm. Your stomach should expand, but chest should remain mostly still. To help you determine if you are breathing properly, place your hands on your stomach and chest and make sure your stomach moves up and down, not your chest. If your chest is moving, you’re not breathing deep enough.
b) Breathe through your mouth
Breath in and out from the mouth. This technique helps give you more energy and feed those muscles with oxygen. Every so often, take a really deep breath and forcefully exhale, relax your shoulders, shake out your arms and continue running.
Don’t become too focused on the ‘correct’ way to breath to the detriment of your running. Do what feels comfortable and you will find you fall into the correct rhythm by default.
(Information provided by Momentum Bootcamps)