Running With Good Form to Protect Your Body
Updated: Sep 2, 2019
Runners reap numerous benefits, from an active way to reduce stress to maintaining a healthy, toned body throughout a lifetime, but injuries are common. Putting repetitive strain on the joints and muscles by running on a regular basis can lead to aches and pains that are difficult to combat, especially as we age. Fortunately, having the proper form when running helps reduce the risk of injury or discomfort. Here are a few tested and proven tips for improving running form in order to protect your muscles and joints.
Focus on Your Stride
One of the best tricks to maintaining proper form when running is to focus in on your stride. While some runners want to increase speed, lengthening stride is not the best way to accomplish the task. Keeping a short but quick stride allows you to maintain control over your foot positioning which helps you avoid reaching too far forward while running. Trying to extend your stride by overstepping your comfort zone leads to injury and discomfort in the ankles, the knees, and hips.
Engage Your Core
Runners are known for their strength and stamina, but those traits come from more than just hitting the pavement every day. Core strength, specifically in the glutes and the abdominal muscles, is part of the total runner’s package. Without strong core muscles, it can be difficult to remain upright while running which causes unnecessary pressure on the hip while running. Take the time to work your abs and glutes to keep a solid core if you want to protect your other joints and muscles while you run.
Keep Your Knees in Line
To help prevent injuries while on a run, it is important to keep your knees in line throughout your workout. Ideally, the foot should strike directly under your knee, not in front or behind. Some argue that the heel should hit the ground before the toe, or vice versa, but there is no research to back up either suggestion as the ideal positioning. However, ensuring your knee is aligned with your foot in each stride helps protect your body from injury when you’re running uphill, downhill, or on a flat surface.
Pay Attention to Your Hands and Elbows
Good running form also connects to your hands and elbows. Most experts suggest that your elbows should be kept at a 90 degrees angle or less while on a run, and your hands relaxed and below your chest throughout. To safeguard from injuries or discomfort after your run, make sure your hands don’t regularly cross your midsection or punch forward. This can be hard to accomplish if you run with a dog leash or music player in hand, but take care to reduce these movements when possible.
Running in an incredible way to stay in shape while also working off stress, but it is important to understand how your form affects your ability to keep up the workout routine for the foreseeable future. Focus on your stride and having a relaxed upper body, and remember to align your knees while engaging your core muscles. Each of these tips will help you prevent injuries and keep your joints and muscles safe during every run.