Learn how to run faster and avoid injury with proper running form

achillesTendons2
achillesTendons2

Learn how to run faster and avoid injury with proper running form

PROPER RUNNING FORM: HOW TO AVOID INJURY

Even if you only run during the weekends, most people are still eager to improve in one way or another. Efficient running is important if “weekend athletes” want to perform at their best. This means using as little energy as possible while maintaining the required strength to get the most out of the run. In order to do this, proper running form is important. Here are 5 ways to achieve proper running technique.

  1. Flexibility and Fitness

This goes beyond having flexible muscles. One needs to have flexible joints, ligaments and tendons as well. They all work together, and any limitation in the tendons, ligaments or muscles will restrict the range of motion. In order to avoid stiffness or even atrophy, it is important to stretch a few minutes each day – particularly before and after a run. This will help the athlete achieve better range of motion and avoid injury.

It is also important for athletes to strengthen their core and glutes as these are the two muscles that play a key role when running. Various exercises can help strengthen these muscles.

  1. Correct Posture

Posture plays a significant role in proper running form. What is good posture? According to Cleveland Clinic, good posture means holding your body upright against gravity in positions that place less strain on supporting ligaments and muscles when moving or carrying out weight-bearing activities. Good posture is important for general health, and is not an exception when it comes to running.

When running, it is important to run tall. Keep your spine lined up and have a slight forward lean. Slumping, bending at the waist and having your head directly over the feet is bad running form and can do more harm than good. Slumping causes the muscles to have to work harder to keep the athlete upright. Additionally, good posture encourages circulation of blood to the muscles as well as oxygen supply to the brain.

  1. Do not Over-stride

Over-striding occurs when the athlete does not bend their knees enough and lands with their feet in front of him/her rather than under him/her. This can lead to knee and hamstring injuries. The knee should be bent at a 90 degree angle when running at a medium pace.

It is also important to avoid excessive bounding or rotation. The athlete’s energy to should focused on traveling forwards and not upwards. If the stride is correct, there should be no bounce. Excessive bouncing and rotation will result in wasted energy and effort.

  1. Efficient Breathing Habits

Breathe deep and in rhythm with your body’s movements. Take full advantage of the lungs’ capacity to take in air. Muscles use oxygen to convert fuel to energy. Therefore shallow breathing will ultimately affect your performance when running.

  1. Stay Relaxed and Focused

A relaxed and not-tense body is less susceptible to injury. A relaxed runner will recover faster after running than one who had tense muscles and covered the same distance.

Focus is also important. The athlete should be fully aware of their body and be able to make adjustments when running incorrectly, so that it becomes part of the muscle memory.

These factors make up the basic foundation needed for proper running form, for both beginners and professionals, and play a major role in improved running and reduced risk of injury.

Dr. Donald Stran
info@houston-footandankle.com

Dr. Donald C. Stran has practiced in the community since 1987. He is Board Certified and is a Fellow of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgery. He is currently a teaching physician with the St. Joseph’s Medical Center podiatric residency program.



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