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What Are the Best Tips for Improving Running Techniques?

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  • Written By: Alex Paul
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 01 December 2016
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Everyone has a unique running style, but there are a number of things a person can do to improve his or her running techniques. An example is changing the way the foot strikes the ground. So-called heel-strike runners are less efficient and more likely to suffer from an injury than midfoot runners. Other tips include landing with the foot inline or slightly behind the body’s center of gravity, strengthening the muscles that provide pelvic stability and running at the right speed.

Improving running techniques isn’t just important for efficiency and achieving a quicker time; it also can help reduce the chance of injury. An efficient runner is often said to glide over the surface, whereas an inefficient runner appears to struggle much harder for the same movement. Even so, it’s important for a runner to make changes to his or her style gradually rather than suddenly switching. Once the body is used to a certain way of running, injuries are more likely to happen if the style is suddenly changed.

An important part of improving running techniques is to avoid heel striking. When the foot comes down, many inefficient runners land with it in front of the body and the impact through the heel. This results in the forward leg resisting the motion of the body and increases the impact through the ankle, knee and hip. Instead, an efficient runner should land with the foot in line with the body and place the impact through the midfoot.

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Posture is often ignored by runners, but improving it can greatly affect the efficiency of running techniques. The pelvis is an essential part of the body’s kinetic chain, because it allows the force of the feet hitting the ground to travel up through the body and into the back. If the muscles surrounding the pelvis are weak, then some of this force is lost. Improving the strength of the abdominal and gluteal muscles is essential for good pelvic stability.

Another important part of improving running techniques is speed. Many people who enjoy running to keep fit jog at speeds less than 6 mph (9.66 kmh). Although this feels like a good workout, it is actually far less efficient than just walking fast. It also is a lot harder on the joints, which absorb a greater impact when running than when walking. For this reason, slow joggers may be better off going for a fast walk.

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myharley
Post 9

@andee - I understand how easy it can be to lose motivation to run on a regular basis. At one point, I ran almost every day of the week.

I was able to keep my weight down, and looked forward to that quiet time in the morning. Then both of my parents got sick and I spent a lot of time taking care of them, and put my running on the back burner.

During this time of transition and stress, I put on weight and didn't take very good care of myself. It took awhile for me to get motivated to get back in the swing of things.

I started out slowly, but have never gotten back to

a full running routine. I like to fast walk, alternating with a couple minutes of jogging.

If you just tell yourself you are going to start out with a few minutes a day, it is not as overwhelming. You will feel much better about yourself the very first day you get started.

I have found that running not only helps me feel better physically, but mentally as well.

andee
Post 8

I used to look forward to my morning run with my dog, but gave it up after about 6 months. My knees and back started hurting me and I thought I was doing more damage than good.

No matter how I tried to change my stride or posture, it didn't seem to make any difference.

I had never given it a thought that maybe I was running too slowly. I had never heard that a slow jog is not much more effective than a fast walk. I thought if I covered more ground in a shorter amount of time, that was a better workout.

Since then, I have had to put my dog down, and I have lost my motivation to run. The thought of trying to run faster than 6 mph does not sound like something I am ready to tackle.

matthewc23
Post 7

I think proper running technique is something that should be better addressed as you are going through school and forced to do these activities.

I played baseball my whole life and was never a very fast runner. I was actually slower than you would expect for my size. After I had a friend finally tell me the tip about landing with your foot below you instead of in front of you, I was able to run faster almost immediately. It still took some getting used to, but it does help to know what you're doing.

I don't know if a lot of coaches don't know these things themselves or if it is just something that never really gets mentioned. You would think they'd still be interested in their players not getting injured by running incorrectly.

SarahSon
Post 6

@jmc88 - I have often heard we get the best workouts when we combine our normal routine with quick spurts of energy. I always thought it helped speed up the metabolism, but it makes a lot of sense how it also affects your heart.

The best tip someone gave me when I started running was to not worry about what other people thought.

I was pretty out of shape when I started, and felt a little self conscious about it. I kept thinking people would laugh at this chubby lady who was out for a run.

It took me awhile to gain the confidence I needed to not worry about what I looked like and what other people thought. Now if I come across a new runner, I do my best to encourage them to keep at it.

jmc88
Post 5

@titans62 - I am not sure exactly who the guy was. I heard him talking on a radio show while I was driving to work one day. I'm not even sure what the radio station was.

I've never actually officially followed the guy's regimen, but I sort of do it anyway. I work out in the woods a lot, and when I'm out there a lot of times I'll run to the top of a hill and then walk down the other side, which is sort of his suggestion. I am pretty in shape, and I don't do any other kind of exercising or dieting, so maybe there is some sort of truth to it. I don't know about the life shortening part, though.

I did think the part of the article was interesting that talked about fast walking being as good as jogging, though. I'm sure that is a relief to some people.

titans62
Post 4

@jmc88 - Hmm, interesting concept. Have you ever tried it? I would be curious to know whether or not it works. I'd also be curious to know who's idea it was if you knew.

I have tried running for exercise before, but it always makes me miserable. I know a lot of people who run and say they get the "runner's high," but it is definitely not something I have ever experienced. I just get short of breath really quickly and then give up. Something like you mentioned, though, I might actually be able to live with.

I think maybe I've always ran wrong, as well, since I am pretty sure I am a heel runner. That might explain why I end up sore, even if I stretch a lot beforehand.

jmc88
Post 3

@orangey03 - I actually heard something interesting the other day that was sort of related to that.

It was some doctor who had developed a new exercise system and claimed that the old system actually led people to die sooner than they normally would. I guess you have to try to parse out how much was true and how much was the guy trying to sell his idea, but it was still interesting.

Basically, he claimed that doing things like running and jogging actually forced your heart into a steady rhythm, which isn't healthy. Normally, our hearts have a certain amount of randomness between beats.

His idea was that people should exert themselves as much as possible for 4-5 minutes and then do light exercise for 15-20 minutes and just keep rotating.

seag47
Post 2

It is so hard for someone who is used to running for exercise to slow it down after an injury. I had a bad running technique, and though my friends had warned me about it, it worked for me, so I continued until I injured myself one day.

My doctor told me that after I recovered, I should start back exercising slowly. He suggested starting with a slow stroll and gradually working up to a jog.

He also told me that I should alter my technique when I did start jogging. I had been heel striking before, but he forbade me to do that ever again.

orangey03
Post 1

I tried jogging before, but it was just too hard on my knees. I noticed them getting sore and starting to give out in just a few minutes.

I wish I could run, but I get out of breath so easily. I have to do cardio in little spurts, because otherwise, my chest hurts.

I have found that a fast walk suits me best. I still get winded, but not to the extreme that I do when running. If I walk briskly for twenty minutes every day, I feel that I have had a good workout, and my muscles don't even get sore.

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