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Proper Running Form for Beginners - Guidelines to Follow

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Have you ever wondered or thought about your running form? What is the correct running form? Many believe that we are born with a given way of moving; after all this is what we humans have done for millions of years. Maybe you are not interested in knowing the science behind a proper running form; you just wanted to know how to do it! Proper running form is a combination of easy-to-implement and simple actionable techniques.

Livingit Disclaimer: If you are an experienced runner and have been running for years without any pain or injury, don’t alter your running form.

Core Principles of Proper Running Form

How to run properly? Well, you need to run correctly – shoulders over hips, head over shoulders, and arms swinging directly ahead. This will not only improve your running form but will also reduce your risk of running-related injuries, and you will use less energy to run faster. So, if you are looking to fix your running form as a beginner, or planning to step into the world of running, then look no further; we present the basics of proper running form and how to run properly to keep you on the right track.

Running Form Principle 1: Maintain a Good Posture

Your running form is directly proportional to your posture. The main principle for running is to focus on form and proper running posture. Slouching is a common problem for many runners that restricts the circulation of blood to your muscles. The focus should be running with a straight and erect posture. While running, you should look straight to the horizon and keep the ball of your foot and heels on the ground level.

proper running form
Good running posture. Source

Running Form Principle 2: Focus on core strength

Before starting to run, it is important to work on your core strength including your glutes and abdominal muscles. Strong core strength makes it easier for you to stay upright, even when you’re tired. These muscles help you to distribute the weight on the legs effectively and equally. You should avoid leaning too forward from your hip as this can lead to injury.

running form
Plank exercise for a strong core.

Running Form Principle 3: Work on your Foot Strike

An efficient foot strike cuts down your injury risks.It doesn’t matter whether you strike heel, midfoot, or forefoot first, your foot must land directly underneath your body, rather than far out front. Try putting your foot down underneath your hips and avoid aggressive foot strike as it sends too much shock through the legs. Use your glute muscles to get the foot down and to generate more power.

running trchnique
Different foot strike patterns. Source

Running Form Principle 4: Know Your Steps

The number of steps you take per minute is measured by cadence. When you are running at a comfortable pace, your cadence should be 170 steps per minute. You should try to maintain a cadence of 85-90 strides per minute with each leg. Try to harness the energy from your spring muscles and extend your hips to propel forward. Avoid over-striding and run tall to reduce your chances of getting injured.

how to run properly
Know your cadence. Source

According to the running coach Jack Daniels, at the 1984 Olympics, the average cadence number for most of the runners was 180 per steps per minute. So, the next time you run, calculate the number of times your foot land in a minute and then double it. If your cadence rate is below 170, try and increase it by 5 percent every week.

Essentials of Proper Running Form

Running does not involve any specific proven techniques; all you need to do is to focus on key components of good running form.

Focus on Your Mental Strength

No one can deny the importance of mental strength in life and running is no exception. A good mental focus allows you to be aware of your body’s sensations. To run faster and avoid injuries, you’ll need to re-educate your body. As you decide to adjust your running form, you will need to focus your brain so that it can tell your body what to do until it becomes a part of your routine and muscle memory.

Watch your Leg Motion

Over striding the forefoot landing, over striding the heel landing, and landing the forefoot without letting the heel settle down may lead to hamstring and knee injuries. It can cause stiffness in your knees and poor blood circulation in your legs. To avoid these, bend your knees at an angle of 90 degrees when you are warmed up and ready to run.

running form leg motion
Watch your leg motion. Source

Cultivate Good Breathing Techniques

Our muscles use oxygen to convert stored fuels into usable energy and any reduction in your oxygen uptake will directly affect your body’s ability to burn glycogen. When you breathe shallow, you only use the upper part of your lungs, not taking advantage of your total lung capacity. As a runner, you should try belly breathing in which the abdominal area expands and contracts.

what is correct running form
Learn proper breathing technique

Also, refer to A Warm-up Routine for Running Perfectly.

Go for Running Training Exercises

These exercises will help you to run faster and stronger. Squat, lunge, bridge, plank, and mountain climbers are major body-weight exercises that will make you a less injury-prone runner. The best part is, these exercises require no specialized equipment, so you can do them anywhere according to your convenience.

Also, read Running Workouts to Increase Speed and Endurance (Not for Beginners!)

Maintain Upper and Lower Body Coordination

A general principle states that work is best done if the responsibility is spread equally among workers. This general rule applies for running also; when your lower body and upper body work in unison, the load of running is spread across the whole body, taking the load off any single muscle. Proper body coordination allows optimal transfer of energy from the ground.

running form
Maintain upper and lower body coordination. Source

Use Good Running Shoes

Many of us do not realize the importance of investing in a good pair of running shoes. If you are wearing inappropriate shoes, you should expect to see your feet in bad shape after a run. It may also result in blisters and sore feet. A good pair of shoes will make your feet feel lighter as you run. You can visit any athletic shoe store to buy these, or to get advice on what type of running shoes best fit you.

Stay Relaxed and Avoid Extremes

When you are relaxed, you will reduce your chances of straining a tight muscle. Tense muscles will restrict the range of motions in your arms and legs. So, relax, take a deep breath, and observe what’s going on, within and around you.

Read on 12 Running Mistakes You Should Not Make.

No doubt, having a proper running form will automatically make your running enjoyable. For best results, you need to follow some basic tips; perfect your foot strike, work on your core muscles, and stay relaxed.

Don’t worry; here we are to your rescue, read on to know the essentials of proper running technique.

Refer to Guidelines for the Correct Running Technique

It doesn’t have to be hard or painful; you just need to pay attention to every step for a proper running stride. We guarantee you that you will enjoy your running comfortably without injuries.

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