I stopped running during the month of January. Don’t worry, I’m back at it now and taking things very slowly. But I’m absolutely convinced that it was because I had fractured my fifth metatarsal. That being said, I’m sure that my injury, properly diagnosed or not, was due to the fact that I don’t really focus on my form while running. So before I got back into running earlier this month, I decided to consult one of the many fitness websites to learn about what good form while running really means.
Fitsugar.com has a pretty easy-to-understand list as to what proper running technique looks and feels like:
- Avoid heel striking: Striking the ground with your heel not only has a painfully negative effect on your leg as a whole, but it also slows your pace down. But since heel striking is natural for many people, it’s often difficult to pay attention and begin landing midfoot, which is most beneficial.
- Pick up your feet: The more tired you are, the closer your feet inch toward the ground while running. Picking up your feet and bringing your heel closer to your butt can activate your hamstrings.
- Skip the long strides: Shorter strides are better for your knees.
- Lean forward: But lean with your entire body – leaning in from your middle can hurt your back. Instead, begin the lean from your ankles (just try it – it’s easier than it sounds).
- Keep your abs tight: Not only will you lessen the chance of getting cramps from an un-flexed stomach, but you’ll also keep your pelvis and lumbar region more stable.
- Engage your torso: Don’t make your pelvis and legs do all the work – lift your ribcage up to provide more support for your already tightened abs.
- Don’t clench your fists: You’re not getting ready for a rumble; you’re going for a run. Keep your hands relaxed by making a soft fist, as though you’re holding a raw egg in each hand (hint: you don’t want them to break).
- Use your arms: Swinging your arms straight forward and straight back at a 90-degree angle will give you a little burst of energy during your run, while swinging your arms across your body will waste energy.
- Take a deep breath: You don’t want to be tense during your run and most people carry that stress in their shoulders. So before you begin your workout, take a deep breath to help your shoulders relax.
- Don’t look down: Running is already hard enough, so don’t deprive yourself of oxygen and make it even tougher. Look up and straight ahead while running to keep your throat open and ready for air.
If you’re like me and you still don’t think you’re demonstrating proper running technique, even after reading this list, seeing a physical therapist or a sport doctor might not be a terrible idea. I’m actually considering it. If all else fails, just take up a new exercise – running isn’t the only way to get your heart rate up and burn calories.