If you’re a runner

…Learn proper form to improve performance and prevent injuries

…Check your form frequently and self-correct

…Consult with a physical therapist to improve your running form

Running seems like a straightforward sport, but there’s plenty to learn to improve your performance. For instance, working on your form can help you run faster while reducing strain on your body and the risk of injury. 

Try these eight tips for improving your running form and quickly note the difference! 

#1 – Look Up

If you’re wondering how your running is, it’s tempting to watch your feet, but this is terrible form. Your eyes should focus on the ground about 10 to 20 feet ahead of you. This will prevent neck strain and collisions. 

#2 – Keep Your Head Straight

It’s natural for your head to jut forward as you run forward, but this puts stress on the neck and shoulder muscles. Relieve that tension and practice good form by holding your head so that your ears are aligned with your shoulders as you run. 

#3 – Use Good Posture

Good posture isn’t just for sitting. When running, keep your posture straight and erect with your head up, shoulders level, and back straight. Keep your pelvis neutral, and don’t lean back or forward at the waist. 

Mentally check your posture and adjust it periodically as you run. It’s easy to slouch a little when you begin to feel tired, but running with proper posture will help prevent fatigue. If you feel yourself slumping a little, stick your chest out or take a well-deserved break. Natural running posture is a straight back with a slight lean that happens from the ankles, as though you are falling forward.

#4 – Relax Your Shoulders

Tense shoulders inhibit good running. Keep them relaxed, square, and forward-facing. Don’t hunch over, which restricts breathing and causes abdominal cramps.

Periodically check yourself that you aren’t shrugging either, with shoulders near your ears. If you catch yourself doing this, squeeze your shoulder blades together and allow your shoulders to drop. 

#5 – Use Proper Arm Form

Your arms are just as crucial to your running form as your legs. 

Let your arms swing back and forth from your shoulder joint, not your elbow. They should also swing by your sides and never across your chest. Crossing your chest leads to loss of energy through rotation and can add stress to your lower back. It helps to remember to keep your arms parallel to each other.

#6 – Keep Hands at Waist Level and Relaxed

When running, keep your hands at waist level with arms bent at a 90-degree angle. Many runners naturally want to hold their hands up by the chest, but this becomes tiring and creates tension. You’ll feel more comfortable with your hands lower. 

Speaking of tension, keep your arms and hands as relaxed as possible. Don’t clench your fists, as the tension will travel up your arms and to your shoulders and neck. 

If you notice your hands are moving up or clenching, drop them to your sides and shake them out to relax them before returning to the right form.

#7 – Don’t Bounce

Got a spring in your step? Known as vertical oscillation, bouncing when you run wastes energy and creates more shock that your legs and feet must absorb. 

You can minimize the bouncing by running lightly and landing more softly. Take short, light steps. 

It is recommended that runners try for a cadence of 180, so that your feet touch the ground 180 times per minute. Shortening your stride raises your cadence. This adjustment might feel awkward at first, but it will feel more natural with practice. An easy way to improve your cadence is by running to a music play list where the songs are more than 175 beats per minute.  

#8 – Consult with a Physical Therapist

Every runner has a different physiology that affects their form. A sports physical therapist can analyze your physiology and how it relates to the mechanics of running to help you improve your form in a more personalized way. They can give you specific tips for improving your unique challenges and exercises to relieve any pain you feel from running. 

There are many ways to improve your running form, but a sports physical therapist can tell you which ones will help your performance the most. 

True Sports Physical Therapy – Where Maryland Athletes Rehab

At True Sports, we’re sports-focused because you’re sports-focused. The best physical therapists in Baltimore and Maryland provide the highest level of sports physical therapy and expertise you need to get back to your sport. With six convenient state-of-the-art locations to choose from, any athlete who takes their rehab seriously can get awesome care and extraordinary results. Select your location and schedule an appointment and have True Sports get you back to your team. For questions about insurance or self-pay rates, please call our office at 1-401-946-1672.