The exhilarating feeling that you get when you run can be addictive and you might be tempted to push your limits just to beat your own record. Although this demonstrates a powerful mindset and grit in runners, you shouldn’t go as far as ignoring health cues and sacrificing your form to achieve your goal.

With more than 60 million people running regularly in the U.S. and 70% of runners suffering from overuse injuries each year, it’s important to emphasize the need to improve running form and technique. Don’t miss these quick tips for recreational and professional runners:

Why Does Running Form Matter?

Equipped with a good running form, you can:

  • Enjoy running better. Many people run to relieve stress and lose excess body weight and these can be difficult to accomplish without the proper running technique.

  • Improve your running performance. Being in the best running form means that you can maximize your every move more efficiently by applying certain biomechanical laws.

  • Avoid physical injuries. Certain running form flaws have corresponding injury risks in runners. Observing proper running form can help prevent these injuries.

Important Running Tips

  1. A strong core makes it easier to keep your body straight even when you’re tired.

  2. Gluteal muscles are important in stabilizing your hip and your body in general.

  3. In case of a running injury, quickly prevent further swelling through the use of an ice pack that’s adjustable for even compression. If the swelling isn’t treated immediately, most especially in foot injuries, the increase in pressure can cause further damage to the surrounding tissues.

  4. Have enough rest. Overuse injuries are relatively common in activities such as running. Try to observe a 24-hour interval in between running to give your body enough time to recover.

  5. Wear a high-quality footwear. Make sure that it has enough support and cushion.

  6. Take care of your feet by doing a simple foot massage.

Tips to Improve Your Form

  1. Be mindful of your posture. Keep your upper body straight and aligned especially your head and chest. Avoid leaning forward.

  2. Look straight ahead and keep your head in a neutral position. However, if you running on an uneven terrain, it may be difficult not to look down to check if there are holes, big stones or tree stumps blocking your way.

  3. Keep arms bent at ninety degree angles, bending at the elbow. Keep them close to your body and swing them forward and backward naturally. Dropping them to the sides and leaving them swinging diagonally will only waste your energy.

  4. Keep your hands loose and your wrists relaxed but controlled. Avoid crossing your hands to the center of your body or punching them forward for these movements can affect your gait.

  5. Avoid tightening and raising your shoulders as this will make you hunch forward and affect the overall alignment of your head and spine.

  6. Warm-up and stretch before running to loosen tight muscles and pump up your heart and lungs in preparation for your run.

  7. Keep your upper body relaxed while you run to avoid unnecessary tension. When your body is tensed, you will have an unnatural form and stride. And it will make you less efficient.

  8. Avoid landing heavily on your heel as it can lead to pain and injury.

  9. Do not overstride by reaching your leg out way too far in front of you. This may seem like you can cover more ground and run faster but on the contrary, you won’t be getting much better results with this technique. Just keep your stride short and quick.

  10. Do deep abdominal breathing when you run. How is it different from regular breathing? Inhale and you can see your abdomen rise then slowly exhale and it goes back down. This eases muscle tension and eliminates the possibility of wasting energy.

  11. Let your knee naturally swing as you propel your body forward. Your foot should strike under your knee and not past it or in front of it as the latter to lead to an injury.

  12. Hydrate before, during and after running. You run the risk of dehydration and fatigue if you don’t replenish all the fluids and electrolytes lost.

Learning and correcting a running form that you’ve been used to for years can be quite a struggle. However, once it becomes a habit, you will be able to run more efficiently and achieve better results while minimizing your risk of injuries at the same time.