By learning how to
run with good posture and
form you can run stronger for longer and injury free - read on.
Words by Gemma
The most efficient running form is one where the body has very little
up and down bouncing motion. The arms should be relaxed, like pistons
backwards and forwards and the legs should 'cycle' beneath the body.
tips for distance running:
When your foot
leaves the ground bring your heel up to your back side to contract the
hamstring muscles and glutes. This creates a cycling motion and will
mean a shorter, faster stride length.
Aim for an upright
posture with a slight tilt forwards in the trunk. This ensures
efficient acceleration forwards and reduces some of the stresses on the
Its best to
increase your knees range of motion during the swing phase as with your
knees bent more you can move faster with less effort. With higher knees
you'll increase your foot turnover, swing time and reduce the feeling
swing of it
It can be quite
important to have symmetry in your arms. If they aren't or you swing
your arms across your chest instead of in a forward motion this can
waste energy and cause problems for your running balance. Equal arm
swing will make for a smoother and straighter line for your legs to
with each stride utilises the hamstring and gluteal muscles effectively
and keeps your centre of gravity rolling continually forward. The hips
should be your driving force.
A crossover gait
can be very bad for your running. It can cause excessive pronation,
knee and hip injuries as well as keeping you unbalanced when you run.
Imagine a line between each foot and make sure you keep each foot their
side of that line.
By developing the
quadriceps you can control the flexion of your knees and minimise the
shock felt which can be up to three times your own body weight. The more extended your knees are during this
flex phase the more impact your leg will receive so strong quads mean
The best push off
occurs where your foot is flat on the ground to the point where your
foot clears the ground and your hip, knee and ankle are fully extended.
Pushing off at the correct point will mean a faster flight phase and
therefore faster running overall.
running, avoid excessive flexion through your joints as you land. Make
sure you land on the ball of foot and roll slightly through to your
mind foot before taking off again. However too much flexion of the
ankle, knee and hip at this point can cause a prolonged stance time and
slow you down while running.
A good follow
through, relaxed arm and shoulder action will reduce impact stress and
useless energy expenditure.
Keep your feet
closer to the ground when bringing it through from the end of the
stride. Also aim to bring the lower leg through to land under the
centre of gravity without lifting your knee too much
Take a detailed
look at your running style and gait on a treadmill in front of a mirror
at the gym. This will give you a good idea of your posture, balance and
overall form. If you can't do this try even running past shop windows
and look at your reflection.
inefficiencies in runners are usually from excessive vertical bounce
and heel strike. These both waste energy lifting the body up rather
and from striking the ground which slows down the runner.
is one of those things that improves with more practice. So keep at it
and over time you'll become more natural.
Running up hills - the proper way
Running hills build strength, efficiency and endurance. The Journal of
Biomechanics found running up steep gradients at fast paces achieved
greater muscle activation than a slow pace or running fast on flat
Running hills also helps teach your body to ignite the muscle fibres in
your legs when you get fatigued to get that extra kick. Start with
hills of 300 to 600 metres and try repetitions, increasing the amount
Having great posture and running form when running on an incline will
power up your times as well as boost your performance and prevent
Here, I will go through each part of the body and how you should be
Keep your head
upright and your neck relaxed. This enables you to keep your breathing
steady and prevent neck ache by leaning too much into the hill.
Eyes should be
focused about 6 metres directly ahead of you. This helps keep your head
straight and eyes focusing on running up the hill.
Your hands should
be loose to enable your body to relax. With hands clenched too tight
your body has a tendency to follow suit.
Arms do most of
the driving up hills and lead where your legs will then follow.
However, don't overdo it and exhaust yourself. Keep the driving of your arms proprotionate to the effort that the
hill needs and keep them at about a 90 degree angle.
Lean into the
hill, but slightly. This keeps your pelvis in the best position to
drive through the legs and maintain good momentum.
Push your legs off
and up instead of into the hill itself. This helps keep you 'springy'
and carry on up the hill.
You need to stay
on your toes. Push off from the forefoot and uses your calves and
quads. The braking action of a heel strike when running up hill will be
even more exaggerated and slow you down significantly.
Prepare before the
hill with a positive ' bring it on!' attitude. Going into the hill with
extra determination and drive will enable you to give it your all and
feel a sense of achievement afterwards.
Going up the hill
If the gradient is constant then keep your pace constant. However, if
it isn't create an appropriate strategy to manage it, if it gets too
steep use your hands to push off from your knees and slow down.
Going down the hill
Downhill running is an art form. Your feet need to land beneath you and
shortening your arm swing helps shorten the strides. Beware not to
'jar' your body to slow yourself down as this puts extreme pressures on
your joints especially knees and can lead to injury.
If you are in need of more advice of proper running form turn to a
professional such as a running
coach or fitness coach who can work with you to analyse and
improve your form.
Carter who is a fully trained fitness and life coach.
website at http://www.cartercoaching.co.uk
or email her at: