How to Improve Running Form

Running is an art form; those who do it well look almost like dancers as they tear across open fields, up mountains or down the straightaway at track meets. However, it is also a science. When the body’s form is aligned to its mechanics, running is easy and doesn’t cause many injuries. When the form is not in tune with how the body naturally wants to move, you slow down, get hurt, and don’t reach your full potential.

Understanding the basics of running posture is critical for improving your running. Below, we will explore five aspects of proper running technique, including:

  1. Optimizing your posture
  2. Paying attention to your arms
  3. Watching where your foot lands
  4. Bringing your knees higher
  5. Concentrating on your breath

These tips will help you optimize your gait and understand how your body moves more effectively. They will also help you improve your running form and prevent injury. If those sound like worthy goals, this is the primer you’ve been waiting for.

Optimize Your Posture

The first step to improving running form is to work on your overall posture. Anyone who has ever benefited from run coaching knows that your body wants to keep the same basic shape no matter what it’s doing. That means head up, gaze ahead, shoulders in a relaxed position, jaw and neck loose, and spine aligned.

This is critical to improving running form because if any of the above body parts/positions are out of whack, you increase your chance of injury. Plus, once you correct any alignment issues, you’ll become more comfortable when exercising and less prone to injury. Score one for anyone trying to improve running form!

Pay Attention to Your Arms

To improve running form, you also want to keep your arms swinging in the front-to-back direction. That means keeping your upper body straight while the elbows drive back, then forward again. Correct running form means you do not keep your arms stiffly at the front of your body because they will swing side to side. This wastes energy slows you down, and gets in your way.

Watch That Foot

This is one of the most important aspects of mechanics, and it is critical if you want to improve running form: your foot strike has to happen in the correct position. It doesn’t matter whether your foot contacts the ground on the ball or with a heel strike. It is important to make sure your foot hits the ground when it is perpendicular to your body.

Many people assume they should make their feet land ahead of them, then swing the body over to catch up. This not only doesn’t improve running form, but it is also dangerous. When your foot hits the ground, it should be directly beneath you and aligned with your spine. If that means you must shorten your stride length and practice running drills until you master the change, that’s OK!

Bend Your Knees More

If you’ve done run training in the past, you know that high knees are an excellent way to improve running form and speed up. Proper running form requires you to keep your legs straight in front of your body when you run, pulling your legs up. This will help you begin running faster with little effort.

If, when you started running, you weren’t taught this, it can feel unnatural at first. Again, that’s okay. Just practice bringing your legs up high when you run, slowly at first, and then faster. Soon it will feel as natural as breathing, and you can improve your running form without even thinking.

Breathe the Right Way

One of the best ways to improve running form is to change how you breathe. Try to inhale for the same amount of time as you exhale. For instance, three strides per inhale, followed by three strides per exhale. Make sure you’re pulling air into your diaphragm.

If you’d like to learn more about how to improve running form, it’s also helpful to understand force and foot function as well as how we can use human performance measurement to increase your ability, agility and overall well-being.

Back to Blog

Related Articles

Get Faster Through the Power of Gait Data

How your body moves as it goes through the motions of walking or running has a shockingly...

How to Analyze Running Gait & Biomechanics to Improve Performance

In addition to providing a popular way to decompress for many people, running is an essential...

What Is Gait Analysis and How Does It Work?

If you’ve been running or playing sports or are a clinician that works with athletes, chances are...