You can easily get faster by simply focusing on your running form. Like your car, boosting your running efficiency will help you gain more speed, cover miles more efficiently, and drastically reduce your risk for injury.
Here are two of most common obstacles for good running form and strategies for fixing them.
Running Form Problem #1: Shoulders
Tension in the shoulders is one of the most common obstacles. Tension in your upper body leads to poor posture which reduces your lung capacity as well as your stride length.
The ideal is to run with relaxed and low shoulders. Doing so will improve your posture, arm swing and power in your stride. Focus on improving mobility in your chest and shoulders with the following exercises.
- Chest Stretch:
Stand with your arm extended and parallel to the ground. Hold onto an immovable object (poll or wall) and turn your body away from the outstretched arm. Hold for 20 seconds and repeat on the other side.
- Shoulder Rolls:
Stand or sit in a comfortable position. As you inhale, raise your shoulders and shoulder blades to your ears. On the exhale, pull your shoulder blades down and together.
- Arm Swing:
Stand with your arms at your sides, shoulders relaxed and pulled down toward your back. Swing your arms for 20 seconds, repeat 2-3 times.
Running Form Problem #2: Foot Strike
Landing on your heel with your foot out in front of you increases the impact on your body, creates a braking force and reduces your efficiency.
Train to land at the front of your foot and land underneath the body. In order to run this way, you’ll need to run in an upright posture, and develop strength in your ankles and feet. Try these exercises:
- Alphabet Foot:
While seated spell all the letters of the alphabet with your barefoot. Repeat twice on each side.
- Jump in Place:
Jump up vertically, landing, and pushing off the front of the feet with a quick movement. Perform 10 jumps, rest for one minute, and repeat a second time.
- Run in Place:
Run in place focusing on landing with your foot under your body. Run for 30 seconds, rest for one minute, and then repeat on the other side.