Why Do I Need to Check My Running Form?
Running is a popular form of exercise and so easy to do, no special equipment needed – apart from wearing trainers (and some people don’t even bother with them). People also report that they find running is great for the body, mind, and spirit.
With every physical activity, however, issues arise down the road, issues such as cramps, joint deterioration, and those pesky unknown pains that never seem to completely go away.
Running is no exception to this.
While every physical activity carries its potential physical detriments, however, such detriments may be prolonged with improper form.
Once again, running is no exception.
While research hasn’t come to any consensus, yet, about the best running form, you can do simple checks to ensure that you’re optimising how you run.
Let’s have a look at several ways to stay on top of and check your running form. Note: This article touches on a couple of things to watch out for but is by no means comprehensive.
Tips To Check How You’re Doing
- While running, scan your body from head to toe, to check on how you’re moving and holding yourself. Using the scale 0-10, you can also check on how much you think you’re exerting yourself (10 being maximal exertion) and how hard the cardiovascular system is working. Here’s a list of things to monitor during this ‘tech-check’:
- Stride length
- Getting someone to record you running is an excellent way to get visual feedback. This can help identify areas for improvement.
What to watch out for
- Keep your stride short and quick: Don’t try and lengthen your stride unless you’re running the last ten yards of a 400-meter dash; doing so may increase the risk of injury. If going up hills, it’s even more important to keep the stride quite short so your legs are in the best position to push you up to the top.
- Aim for your landing foot to strike the ground under your body: If you run with your foot striking the ground in front of your knee, you may run the risk of becoming injured. Aim to get the foot striking the ground directly under your body.
- Pay attention to your arms and hands: That’s right, it’s not all about those legs and feet of yours. Don’t carry your arms too high to your chest; they need to be relaxed at or below a 90-degree angle. You can use your arm swing to help drive the legs and keep the momentum of running.
- Keep an eye on your exertion: Monitoring how hard you feel each run is can be important. Exertion rates will depend on whether you’re running a slow, long run or fast intervals. High exertion levels may be an indication that you’re working too hard and need more rest. For example, you normally run 5km and can comfortably do it with 5-6/10 exertion levels, but you run the same run and are finding exertion levels are 8-9/10, it’s a sign to take it easy or take a few days of rest. Running when you’re tired will leave you more at risk of injuring yourself.
Should You Ever Change Your Form?
Does such a question seem counterintuitive?
Well, it might. The answer depends on whether you’re just starting out running or have been running for years.
For example, say you’ve run competitively for years and never experienced any form of injury. Even if your style of running doesn’t check all of the above boxes, changing your form might not be necessary – there’s no need to adjust what’s working for you!
On the other hand, if you’re just starting out then it’s a good idea to work towards a good technique. If you’re getting regular discomfort during or after a run, then these issues are worth investigating. You want to stop niggles turning in to long-term problems.
Running requires paying attention to proper form, especially if you’re new to the world of such a great exercise.
Your form is important, and several key things to look out for when you run are addressed above.
While a change in form may not always be necessary any discomfort while running should be addressed, sooner rather than later.
Sometimes, changing or adjusting your form may do the trick!
But remember: don’t hesitate to contact us if you’ve got any question, or would like a more individualised exercise plan.