From a young age we all develop a running form that’s comfortable and comes naturally. However did you know that bad technique is one of the top causes of injury and performance plateau? This may lead you to wonder exactly what is considered “good form.” This can be left up to some debate but the general consensus is a foot strike that lands in the middle of the foot near your body’s center of mass, straight posture with your head centered between your shoulders and a rhythmic stride in a straight motion without too much lateral movement. No matter if you compete in running events or you are more of the recreational runner, with patience and commitment you can help improve your running form.
Common Bad Form Mistakes:
• Over Striding - Taking too long of a stride. Over striding can throw your body out of rhythm and create shin splints. Your stride should be a comfortable length that allows a rhythmic cadence.
• Heel Strikes - Landing your stride on your heel can cause heel bruising and can even affect your hips and back. Your foot should land right in the middle of your foot right under your center line.
• Bad arm motion – Swinging arms side to side or not using your arms at all can significantly slow you down. Your arms should be bent at a 90 degree angle and swing in a straight line back and forth alternate your foot strike.
• Duck Foot - If your toes are pointed outward not only are you expending extra energy on each stride but landing on the sides of your feet can lead to foot and lower leg injuries. Your feet should be as close to a straight line as possible.
• Back Kick - If you run outdoors and the back of your shirt is completely covered in dirt by the time you get back then you are a back kick offender. This happens when the back part of your stride is over extended.
• Clenched muscles – Running with a clenched jaw, fists or tense muscles is also bad form which can lead to back misalignment and muscle fatigue. If your cheeks don’t bounce up and down you are clenching too hard. If you find yourself constantly straining either slow your pace or make an effort to focus on your relaxation and breathing.