Athletes such as Usain Bolt and Mo Farah have brought track and field to prominent status. Running is an activity that so many people around the world participate in, yet many are doing it wrong technically. Not knowing proper running can result in injury. As a former NCAA Division 1 track athlete and Coach to a middle-school track team, the art of individual’s running forms is a topic that needs to be discussed.
Runner’s World magazine informs its readers in many articles about technical form. Their magazine and website can provide not only articles, but photo and video demonstrations. According to them, there are several key areas to monitor when running.
Head Tilt. You may think your head has nothing to do with running, but how you hold your head impacts your overall posture, which impacts your run. Look ahead naturally, not down at your feet, so your neck and back are in alignment.
Shoulders. Despite my running success, I always had to work on my shoulder form. Your shoulders help to keep your body relaxed, which is a must when trying to keep good running posture. My shoulders would go high, but the goal is to keep them low and lose. When I would get tired, my shoulders would move up and tighten. Shaking out your arms can help relieve the tension.
Arms and Torso. I was always amazed how much your arms play a role. Your arm swing actually works with your leg stride to keep you moving forward. Keep your hands loose, as if you are carrying a fragile egg that cannot be crushed. Do not let your arms cross in front of your stomach. Keep them moving back and forward, between your waist and lower-chest. Elbows should be at about a 90 degree angle. Keep your torso upright, being sure not to slouch forward. The torso in the correct position will help keep your hips naturally in alignment.
Legs. Sprinters like Usain Bolt need their knees high for leg power and speed. Non-sprinters need just a slight knee lift and a short stride. Your feet should land directly underneath your body. As your feet hit the ground, the goal is not to land on your heals as you do when walking, but to land between you heal and midfoot, then roll forward. Running should be quiet, not slapping the ground with each step.
Those are the basics for running posture. It took me years to establish the best form for me. There are many drills you can do daily to work on proper running technique. It is great that you want to run, but be sure to monitor your form to prevent injury.