Avoid injury and run faster with these tips
Injuries while running will undoubtedly slow you down. If you are serious about running, you probably already take steps to prevent injury. After all, you do not want to become one of the 37 to 56 percent of runners who incur sport-related injuries annually. But did you know that concentrating on technicalities such as running form can help to not only avoid injury but good form can also make the difference between being a winner and a runner-up in a race! By practicing technique, you can be faster and more efficient. So in the spirit of helping you propel forward, here are some ways you can improve your form while avoiding common running mistakes.
Your Foot Strike
Numerous coaches suggest that heel-striking is the primary cause of running injuries, but landing on your heel is not the end of the world. The bigger issue is landing on a straight leg in front of your body, which means you are pushing into the force of the road which can slow impact on your forward motion.
Many amateurs tend to over-stride in order to take a longer stride, which can lead to serious injuries. This is the form of heel-smashing, aggressive foot strike that should be avoided because it sends impact shock through the leg.
In all actuality, it does not make so much of a difference where you land on your foot with each step – many professional runners are heel-strikers. Instead, it is more important where your foot lands in connection to the rest of your body rather than which part of your foot hits the ground first. So rather than focusing on whether you land on your forefoot or heel, allow your body to dictate which part of your foot is best to land on, based on your speed and genetics.
Keep Your Feet Underneath Your Body
Keep your feet directly under your center of mass rather than taking massive strides. Taking larger strides not only burns unnecessary energy but it also can lead to the aforementioned hard heel-striking, which can add extra pressure on your knees and hips.
The number of steps you take in a minute, also called cadence, impacts your form. If you are doing too many, your stride may be short or if you run too few, you may be bounding. The rule of thumb was around 180 steps per minute for proper body economics, but this does not always apply. Rather adjust your cadence based on your level of running. If you are a slower runner, strive for 165 steps per minute and if you are faster, aim for 170 steps per minute.
Keep Your Back Tall
Many runners tend to lean forward from your waist. Although a slight forward lean is part of good running form, it should not come from the waist but instead the ankles. A subtle forward lean will happen naturally from the lower legs so do not deliberately try to lean forward. Instead concentrate on keeping your back tall with a straight posture.
Reduce Arm Sway
Arms move naturally with your legs in most cases.. Your arms should not be swinging back and forth at your midline, nor far out in front of your body.