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Proper running form

6 Mistakes Runners Make — & How to Fix Them

The other week I was featured in a TV news story where there was video of me running. When I saw the video, I was dismayed. Proper running form? Notsomuch.

The video revealed that I was a heel striker — which I now know is a big no-no in running form. Yes, there’s a right way to carry your body when you run, a.k.a. proper running form. Proper running form helps you run efficiently, so you can go faster with less effort and less likelihood of getting injured. Unfortunately, many new runners set out to accomplish big goals only to be sidelined by injuries likely caused by the way they run.

If your running form is less than perfect, there are some things you can do to identify your mistakes and fix them for optimum speed and lower likelihood of injury.

So, how do you know you have proper running form?

Proper running form means you are moving in the most energy efficient way possible. That means your head is over your shoulders, shoulders over hips, hips over mid-foot (not heel), arms are bent at 90-degrees swinging near your sides, and fingers are lightly placed together like you’re holding one potato chip between your index finger and thumb.

Patrick Gildea, director and head coach at Knoxville Distance Project, says you can run down a mental checklist to see if your form is correct. Ask yourself if you’re running tall with relaxed shoulders, chin down, eyes ahead and fingertips at your waist.

“These are simple cues that you can use to remind yourself during the difficult stages of a run or race to get you back on point,” explains Gildea.

Biggest mistakes beginning runners make

There are common form problems for novice beginners that you should definitely know about, according to Gildea.

  • Mistake #1: Heel striking. Your feet shouldn’t lead heel-first in front of your hips, since this will require more effort to push off the ground. Instead, you want to land mid-foot.
  • Mistake #2: Tip-toeing. Tip-toeing is when you land on your toes. This also makes it more difficult to push off the ground.
  • Mistake #3: Over striding. The bigger the stride, the faster the runner, right? Nope. Trying to lengthen your stride unnaturally is a surefire way to getting injured. Aim for shorter, faster strides.
  • Mistake #4: Slow cadence. You want your feet to hit the ground 180 times per minute (count your steps for 15 seconds, then multiply by 4). The slower your cadence, the longer your feet are on the ground, and the more energy it takes to lift them up.
  • Mistake #5: Stiff upper body. It may sound contradictory to run strong yet loose, but that’s the goal. Ensure your shoulders are dropped away from your ears, and your arms are swinging freely by your side.
  • Mistake #6: Crazy arms. Just be careful those arms aren’t swinging excessively. They should move in a smooth, controlled motion.

How to fix running form mistakes

While these mistakes can potentially cause an injury, trying to alter your form overnight isn’t the answer, says Bobby Holcombe, personal running coach and founder of Knoxville Endurance.

“Sometimes runners will watch videos of other runners or video themselves running, and then they want to change their stride,” says Holcombe. “Everyone has a different stride, foot strike, etc. They shouldn’t try to change them immediately.”

Holcombe explains that trying to alter your running form overnight is sure to get you hurt. Instead, focus on simple exercises that will help you gradually improve your posture and become a more efficient runner. He recommends beginning runners add certain exercises to their routine.

(Read the rest of the article at SHEKnows.com.)

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