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7 Ways to Improve Your Running Form

When you improve your running form and body posture, you’ll also increase your speed and endurance. And you’re much less likely to experience foot pain, knee injuries, or other issues.

1. Feet/Ankles - As you begin your run, use as much force as you can when pushing off the ground. Do this by rolling the foot forward and keeping your ankle flexed so you can create the maximum amount of force. Your feet should land lightly at a point between your mid-foot and heel and then roll forward immediately onto your toes. As you spring off the ground again, your calf muscles will propel you forward to the next step. You want a quiet, springy gait with no loud foot-slapping on the ground. If your heels strike first, you'll find yourself landing heavily in front of your center of gravity. Not only will it slow your speed, but you'll also experience increased stress on your joints.

2. Knees/Legs - The length of your stride depends on the type of runner you are. To achieve maximum leg power, sprinters should lift their knees high. However, an exaggerated knee-lift is too difficult for distance runners to sustain for any length of time. To increase endurance, distance runners should lift their knees slightly and use a short stride with a quick leg turnover. This fluid motion will propel the runner forward without wasting energy. If your lower leg extends out in front of your body, your stride is too long. An indication of proper stride-length is when your feet land directly beneath your body. Keeping your knees slightly flexed allows your knees to bend naturally on impact when your feet strike the ground.

3. Hips - Keeping your hips at the proper height enables you to extend your stride the correct amount and allows you to achieve the right amount of knee lift for the type of running you do. Hips are your center of gravity; they’re the key to good posture when you run. Your hips naturally fall into proper alignment as you hold your torso and back comfortably straight and upright. Then you'll also be pointed straight ahead in the correct position. A way to gauge where your hips should be is to think of your pelvis as a bowlful of round rocks. As you run, try not to spill any rocks by too much tilting the “bowl.” Failure to achieve the right hip position can affect knee lift, cause you to run flat-footed, and will prevent you from using your hamstrings and calves to their full ability.

4. Torso - The ideal torso position is keeping your back straight while stretching yourself up to your full height. This position is often referred to as "running tall." Your entire body will be leaning forward slightly without bending at the waist. However, if you lean forward too much or hunch over too far forward, your pelvis will tilt forward too and can put pressure on your lower back. That will throw the rest of your body out of alignment. If you notice yourself starting to slouch, just take a deep breath. You’ll feel yourself straightening naturally. Then maintain that position as you breathe out.

5. Arms/hands - Good arm swing, along with the proper leg stride, helps propel you forward. Your hands also control tension in your upper body. A good hand position is keeping your fingers lightly touching your palms, but not tightly clenched into a fist. Swing your arms forward and back in the direction of your motion - instead of across your body - at a height somewhere between your lower chest and waistline, although the range of swing will depend on your running speed. Keep your elbows bent at an angle of around 90 degrees. If you allow your arms too much lateral movement, it will twist your entire body through your shoulders and cause problems in your joints.

Sprinters should swing their arms so that so the upper arm is almost parallel with the ground at the back and about chin height at the front. Longer-distance runners should decrease the range of arm movement and concentrate on relaxation and balance instead of drive. If you feel your forearms tensing or your fists clenching, release the tension by dropping your arms to your sides and shaking them out for a few seconds.

6. Shoulders - A key to maintaining efficient running posture is keeping your upper body relaxed while you run. Your shoulders need to remain level with every stride. Don’t allow them to dip from side to side. You'll achieve optimum performance if you can keep your shoulders low and loose instead of high and tight. When you start to get tired while running and feel your shoulders creeping up toward your ears, just shake your shoulders out to release the tension.

7. Head - The position in which you hold your head determines your overall posture. That, in turn, determines how efficiently you run. For proper head position, don’t let your chin jut out, and avoid looking down at your feet. Focus naturally on what’s ahead of you and scan the horizon. Letting your gaze guide you will straighten your neck and back, and bring them into alignment.


Maintaining the proper running posture enables you to achieve correct stride length and optimal lung capacity. It’s the best way run efficiently and enjoy the benefits of the great sport of running.

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