How you run is determined by your build, as well as the strength and flexibility of your muscles. No two gaits are exactly alike, but anybody can learn and practice good form to become a better runner.
The Proper running technique is essential to running faster and further and avoiding injury. Here are seven signs that reveal bad running habits and what you can do to correct them.
Signs and Fixes of Poor Running Technique
- Difficulty breathing on easy runs. Breathing more heavily after a few minutes of running is to be expected, but if you’re having a hard time breathing on an easy run, you may have poor running form.
The solution: Keep your chest up, forward, and open.
- Neck and shoulder pain. Your head is likely pushing forward and your upper body is tense while you run, hence the pain in these areas. Being in a forward head position is neither attractive nor will it get you there faster.
The solution: Roll your shoulders back and down and make sure your head stays in a neutral position. Imagine that your upper body is being pulled upward.
- Tired hips or quads. If your hips or thighs feel really sore, they could be working harder than they should and more than your other muscles needed to move your body forward due to poor running technique.
The solution: Perform running-specific strengthening and conditioning exercises to correct any bad habits or weaknesses.
- Making a lot of noise. If you can hear your feet, you’re doing it wrong. Your muscles and joints are put under a lot of stress whenever you run; landing too hard will make things worse. This running crime can be committed by any runner regardless of weight, even skinny women.
The solution: Imagine you are running on clouds and have to tread lightly. Focus on rolling through your stride as well. If you listen to music while you run, take off your headphones every now and then to check the sound of your feet.
- Recurring injuries or muscle soreness. Some soreness after a run is normal, but certain muscles being noticeably sorer could be an indication of bad form. The same goes if you keep getting injured.
The solution: Doing strengthening exercises, especially on the muscles that usually get sore, will reduce your risk of injury.
- Overstriding. You’re not a horse, so don’t try to mimic one. Very long strides will not make you a faster or better runner. Overstriding will only slow you down and make you more prone to injury.
The solution: Avoid reaching forward with your foot and focus on landing under your center of gravity. To improve leg speed, do butt kicks, high knees, and strides before every run.
- Loosey-goosey arms. If your arms and elbows are flapping around and crossing your body, stop. Keep in mind that running is a linear activity, so everything should be moving forward (and backward) in a straight line.
The solution: Keep your hands loose and relaxed, your elbows bent at 90 degrees, and your arms moving freely in line with your body. Make sure that nothing is crossing your midline or shooting out to the sides.
Other Ways to Improve Your Running
Aside from adopting the proper running form, the following can help you become a better runner and avoid injury.
- Strengthen your core. A strong core allows you to maintain an upright position even when you’re tired.
- Wear good running shoes. A shoe that fits well and provides the right amount of support can help you go a long way.
- Slow and steady wins the race. Introduce any changes and increase your speed and mileage gradually.
About The Author:
Being obsessed with running, Chau Nguyen decided to build his own blog RunningAddicted.com, a place where people just like him can come to get the best information, tips, and gear available. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.