Running Form: Part One

by Louise | November 30th, 2010 | Running

How do you know if you are running as efficiently as possible? The key is proper running form and mechanics. Naturally, there are many different running styles. Every person is built differently; therefore, every person has a unique stride. However, there are many aspects of form and mechanics that should be the same for all runners in order to maintain maximum efficiency. The main areas of focus are one’s arms, posture, foot plant, stride length, and stride mechanics. The following is a basic outline of proper form for posture and arms.

  • Posture – There are some runners who seem to be leaning backward as they run, and some remain stiff and upright, while others seem to hunch forward. Who is right? It’s all about balance. When you’re simply standing, your body is balanced when your shoulders are directly above your hips. However, when you begin to move forward, your natural balance is kept by a slight lean forward, still keeping your back straight; this is how you should run. Also, make sure you aren’t tilting your head as you run.
  • Arms – Try to keep your shoulders relaxed and your arms below your chest. Your arms should never cross the mid-line of your body. Anything in the sideways direction is simply wasted energy. During the arm swing, you should be driving your arms backward, not forward. (This may seem counter-intuitive; however, extending your arms forward encourages over-striding, which is not ideal.) Your elbow should approximately form a 90 degree angle, though this is not rigidly kept. As you drive your arm backward, the angle will should naturally increase. Lastly, keep your hands unclenched, as if you are holding a butterfly.

No one is born with perfect running form or running mechanics. They are skills, just like any other, and they take practice to learn well. Luckily, to “practice form,” we don’t need any special equipment; we simply need to actively think about our form, and attempt to make corrections, one step at a time. Stay tuned for “Running Form: Part Two,” in which the proper foot plant, stride length, and stride mechanics will be described.

  1. […] the most important one of all, is how we run; we often forget to consider our running form. In Running Form: Part One, the areas of focus were posture and arms. Runner should also consider proper foot plant, stride […]

  2. […] Running Form: Part One […]

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All health and fitness information is provided for educational purposes. Please consult with your physician before beginning any exercise regimen.