People enjoy running for a wide variety of reasons. Whether your reason to lace up is for health or fun, stress relief usually goes hand in hand. However, if you aren’t aware of your running technique things might turn out just the opposite.
Why do you run? Click to find what running means to you.
Start off with some good ol’ people watching. Take a good look at 5-10 people and evaluate their stride. Can you guess what you might notice? Everyone has a very unique way of doing it. You can read articles galore about the “right” way to run, but the truth is that we all have distinctive qualities that set us apart. Some of us have short legs, long legs, flat feel, high arches, small hips, wide hips, my list is endless….but i’m sure you get the picture! What works for someone else may be uncomfortable to you. The key is to know a few simple rules to follow during each run. Complete a body scan every so often during your run to tweak yourself back into alignment.
Work your way from top to bottom:
Be aware of your gaze.
-Don’t ever look down. Some people are very concentrated while running and may let their eyes fall to their feet. This could cause a lot of stress on your neck which leads to tightness and fatigue. Your gaze will guide you naturally, so keep it forward. Look ahead a good 50 feet or so toward the horizen.
-Pretend that you are hanging from an imaginary string from the top of your skull, keeping your head centered between your shoulders. Avoid leaning too much forward (or backward) by being aware of where your chin is pointing.
-Keep your jaw relaxed, don’t clench your teeth. Be aware of your automatic facial strains to avoid tension headaches.
Good posture is key.
-Your shoulders should be low and relaxed. If you feel them raising to your ears and feeling tense, take a few seconds to shake it out. Treat yourself to a few forward shoulder rolls.
-Don’t be slouchy! Again, your your imaginary string to pull you up. Run tall and proud! By doing this, your torso and hips will be in optimal position. If you are hunching or tilting, take a recovery walk and correct it before continuing. Bad posture can lead to lower back issues.
-Engage your abs. Keeping a strong core will also help those pesky lower back twinges.
Keep it personal.
-You must perfect your stride to where it’s comfortable to YOUR body and height. Try not to waste your energy by lifting your knees to far off the ground. A low, strong stride is better for running distance (versus sprinting). Keep your knees flexible and unlocked at all times.
-Your arms should be moving naturally. Be sure to keep a loose grip. It may be natural to close your hand, but don’t clench your fists. Lightly touch your middle finger to your palms at most.
-Don’t slam the ground with your feet! Your should land lightly. Briefly touch the ground and powerfully spring into your next step using your calf muscles. You should be landing mid foot and rolling onto your toes. A soft, quiet run is your goal. People should never be able to hear you coming.
Your simple checklist:
Looking ahead? Check! √
Loose neck/head/shoulders? Check! √
Engaged abs? Check! √
Running tall with posture in alignment? Check! √
Low strides? Check! √
Loose knees/ankles? Check! √
Staying “sneaky”? Check! √
(is THAT why they call them sneakers?! Tee-hee :))
So there you go! Now you can complete your full body scan throughout your runs for an optimal experience. Keep running enjoyable! Avoid muscle strains, tension, and stress on your body.
And MOST importantly, stretch properly! You can scan yourself a million times, but without stretching you are asking for problems!
Read up on why stretching is so important and what you should be doing religiously.
Stretch (like Armstrong)
Mandatory Runner’s Stretches
Static Stretch Series