First things first. If you are an experienced runner and do not have problems with recurring injuries or frequent pains then it may actually be more damaging for you to alter your running form. If, on the other hand, you frequently finish your runs with aches and pains, or avoid them altogether due to strains and soreness, then check out these 4 easy running tips to improve your form. When you stop throbbing in pain, you’ll start loving the run.
Watch Your Posture
You’ve been running since you were a toddler, and there’s a good chance that you’ve been doing it wrong this whole time, especially if you end your runs in pain. Proper running posture can be the difference between a lifelong love of running and a life altering injury. Whether you’re running to train for a marathon or simply trying to get a little cardio in, posture is vital. Keep your head held high and centered between your shoulders, so that your natural gaze is directly in front of you, rather than down at the ground. Your back should remain straight and your shoulders should be relaxed but parallel to the ground.
Pay close attention to your posture and adjust accordingly anytime you feel that you might be slipping out of form. As you run more often and for longer periods of time, you’ll realize that you don’t have to make nearly as many adjustments anymore.
Fix Your Foot-Stride
Do you remember running barefoot across the lawn as a child? If you do, you probably also remember that running didn’t used to hurt you nearly as badly as it does now. That has a lot to do with your foot stride. With sneakers on, overextension of your stride is more common and causes the heel to meet the ground harder. This isn’t a problem when the heel is cushioned by a shoe, but it becomes painful when you’re barefoot. For this reason you are more likely to be conscious of the length of your foot stride when you are barefoot. An overextended foot stride can lead to muscle strain and recurring injuries.
To find your natural stride run barefoot and pay attention to how far your legs naturally extend. This is the foot stride that you should aim for every time that you run.
Regulate Your Breathing
Breathing is intrinsic, and for that reason it is not often something that people think about. That’s a mistake because certain types of breathing are better suited for different physical activities, and your body doesn’t always naturally choose the right one. For instance, while you are running, deep belly breathing, or diaphragmatic breathing, is more beneficial than thoracic, clavicular, or paradoxical breathing. This is because this type of breathing allows for the greatest lung capacity to be utilized, which positively affects cardiovascular capabilities during workouts.
Although diaphragmatic breathing is the most common form of breathing, it is occasionally replaced with thoracic breathing. To train yourself back into diaphragmatic breathing lay flat on your back on the ground and breath deeply. Focus on making your stomach expand with each inhale rather than your chest.
Correct Your Coordination
All parts of your body have to work together to create an enjoyable running experience. If your upper or lower body is putting in more work or effort than the other, you will experience burnout and pain. If you are experiencing frequent pains or aches after your runs, it may be because one half of your body is putting in more work than the other half. Try focusing your attention on forcing your body to work in unison so that the full brunt of the work is evenly distributed. This will ensure that no single muscle group becomes overworked.
To aid in your coordination and improve your running form it’s important to also make sure that you are keeping your knees and elbows bent. Proper form suggests that when you are in mid-swing, your forearms and shins should be parallel to the ground.
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