7 Healthy Tips For Proper Running Form

7 Healthy Tips For Proper Running Form

Whether you’re thinking about forming a running habit, or you already run regularly, perfecting your running form should always be a TOP priority.

Statistics claim that 65% of all runners will be injured in any given year. 

The record also states that novice runners are OVERWHELMINGLY more likely to be injured than experienced runners.

Most running injuries are 100% preventable with proper education and prevention techniques.

One of the easiest and most effective ways we can prevent injury is by working on our running form.

In this article, I’m going to give you a breakdown of the 7 areas we need to look out for when practicing our running technique!

Why It’s SO Important!

There is a myriad of injuries that can be caused by poor running form.

These include:

  • Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS) or “Runner’s Knee” — One of the most common injuries, it’s when the cartilage on the underside of the kneecap is irritated or damaged. Generally caused by overpronation (excessive inward foot rolling) and weak hips + quads.
  • Stress Fracture — Occurs when there’s stress on a particular bone over time, causing a small crack in the bone. Common in beginners who overtrain.
  • Shinsplints — Results from small tearing of the muscles around your tibia (shinbone). Common when starting a running routine, and doing too much too quickly. I was guilty of this when I started running, and it put me out of running for almost 4-months!
  • Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS) — When the connective tissue between the shinbone and to the pelvic bone becomes super tight, causing it to rub against the thigh bone. More likely in runners who run long distances without recovering properly.
  • Plantar Fasciitis — Small tearing of the tendons that run from our heels to toes. Causes are extreme foot arches and overpronation.
  • Achilles Tendonitis — Caused by overuse of the Achilles tendon, which is the tissue that connects the heel bone to the calf bone. This can be prevented by increasing mileage slowly over time, and by choosing the right running shoes for your feet.

Not only can lack of proper form cause short-term injuries, but over time they can cause life-long injuries as well!

There are many runners who neglect to tweak their form, and eventually develop serious body issues (back, knee, etc.) — oftentimes putting them out of running commission PERMANENTLY.

Don’t be one of those people. 

7 Tips For Proper Running Form

Running seems simple, but small errors in our form could be the difference between a full-blown injury that puts us out of commission for months, and never being injured at all.

Thankfully, small tweaks in our body can correct these errors relatively easily! 

Just in case infographics (like the one above) aren’t your jam, I’ll cover the key points below! 😊

1) Head

Make it a practice of keeping your head high and facing the horizon!

Not only will this keep tension off your back, but it can have mental benefits as well!

They say that lifting your head high can also increase motivation, self-esteem and even the results of your workout.

2) Shoulders

Keep those shoulders relaxed, people! I’m so passionate about this one, cause I am constantly trying to hunch my shoulders unnecessarily.

Why? NOT A CLUE. 🙄

But it would routinely cause unnecessary tension + strain, making the run feel 10x harder.

Taking a deep breath can help keep your shoulders relaxed!

3) Arms

Strive to keep your arms at a 90-degree angle and to move them forwards + backwards — NOT across your body!

This is another sneaky habit that can make the run feel unnecessarily strenuous.

Moving your arms at your side also helps propel the body forward.

4) Torso

Always think tall!

This is one of the most important tweaks you can make to your running form.

It decreases the stress on your lower back + knees, which are two common areas of injury.

Straightening your torso even maximizes breathing flow, so you won’t be as likely to huff and puff through your run!

Also, I find that the moment I straighten my back I feel more confident.

5) Legs

Don’t get all crazy and swing your legs too far in front (or behind) your body.

Make sure your legs are naturally moving beneath your body, with the knees only slightly bent.

Some runners have a tendency to lift their knees too high, and all this does is promote injury.

6) Feet

Don’t get too caught up in how your feet are striking the ground.

Your key focus should be keeping your feet underneath your body (as opposed to in front) and choosing the right running shoe for your foot type.

Some who try and make tweaks to their “strike” end up further promoting an injury by not running in a way that’s natural to them.

7) Mind

Remember to NOT overthink it! 

Running is fun, guys! And if it’s not, it WILL BE once you overcome that hurdle as a beginner where it feels hard. 😊

While making adjustments to our form is super beneficial, sometimes the key is to just LET GO and move in a way that feels natural.

Trust your instincts! 

Extra Tips That Help!

  • Play it safe

    Make small adjustments to your form as you go; however, if you ever feel like something’s out of wack body-wise, RECOVER ASAP! It’s never worth it to push through and cause a full-blown injury. I wear compression socks to help with recovery — you can read more about them HERE.

  • Watch your form

    It sounds weird, but take advantage of the mirrors at the gym or record yourself running. The less awkward way to do this is by visiting a legit running shop and having them record and analyze your gait for you!

  • Incorporate strength training

    This is a major factor in preventing injury. 2-3 workouts a week are sufficient to gain the necessary benefits. You can read up on how to start a gym routine HERE.

  • Start slow

    I can’t say this enough. SLOWLY increase your mileage to prevent burnout and strain on your body.

  • Always warm up

    I neglected to do this properly when I started running, and I ended up with an injury within a few months. It seems tedious and like a waste of time…but it’s CRUCIAL.

  • Invest in a foam roller

    They’ve become a staple in routine recovery for runners, and I utilize one daily. I use my foam roller pre-run and post-run to promote blood flow and to loosen the muscles.

    • You can find a basic, affordable option on Amazon HERE.
    • If you’re interested in investing in a higher-quality, longer-lasting option, you can find one HERE.
I know proper form isn’t the most “fun” topic when it comes to running, but it will make the experience SO much more enjoyable over time!

Proper running form is definitely a pre-requisite to excelling as a runner, so constantly be giving it thought!

I’ve been running for years, and there’s never a time when my running form is 100% perfect.

There are always areas that could use improvement. 

As long as you’re giving it the time + thought it deserves, you’ll be preventing injuries and setting your running goals up for success! 💙👟

Till next time!

Cheers,

Kat Rentas

Founder, Living In Slack Tide

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