3 Keys to Efficient Downhill Running

Tips to avoid injury while keeping speed up.

Sometimes gravity is your friend. It may not be when it comes to stepping out of your car and your phone smacks down on the pavement or when you are twenty feet up a tree, but it is when it comes to running efficiently downhill. If your body is unable to handle the momentum, it will naturally put on the brakes to maintain control as you propel downward.

Efficient downhill running is comprised of a few factors that apply both on and off road. Maintaining proper mechanics and ensuring that you keep your legs under you at the highest speed you can maintain are important.

When it comes to extreme trail running, it is important to have leg speed and coordination as well as quick reaction time to avoid or use obstacles that come up along the way. To accomplish this, you should have your key muscles activated, proper running mechanics and joint stability.

Activating Key Muscles

The abdominal and glute muscles are important when it comes to forcing production and control with the body. By activating and utilizing these muscles adequately while running, you will have greater control over your legs as well, which can minimize the impact of the quads and knees that are typically beaten during downhill runs. By maintaining this control, you are taking control of gravity and keeping control over your momentum, which can make it easier to avoid obstacles while on the trail. One way to ensure you keep your abs and glutes strong and trail ready is to integrate core and strength stability work while training.

Proper Mechanics

Focusing on your running form will help you immensely. Maintaining a strong circular motion of your legs underneath your body as well as a tall posture are the foundations of efficient downhill running, as in all forms of running. This means you should lift your knees when out in front of you, allowing your foot to strike directly beneath your body then pulling your heel back around to repeat the cycle. A lot of people run wrong, with lower-leg dominance rather than running from their hips while minimally raising knees. Running this way greatly reduces your ability to keep your momentum up while running downward and can make it necessary for you to slow down much earlier than you would have to otherwise, which would adversely affect your time.

Joint Stability

When it comes to controlling your body’s forward speed and direction, your ability to maintain spinal stability is crucial. You can maintain this through your spine, hips, knees, and ankles. Aim to keep your muscles strong surrounding your joints to create this stability. You can strengthen your joints with single- and double-leg strength and balance exercises. You should strive to be able to stay stable during quick shifts in direction, not only in terms of injury prevention but also when it comes to agility and quickness.