The Biomechanics of Running: Improving Your Form

My Bariatric Life Health Guide
  • Read part 1 of this series, "Five Minutes of Running Can Add Years to Your Life," 


    Biomechanics is the study of the mechanical laws pertaining to movement and structure and can be used to improve athletic performance through technique and form. It is also good fodder for starting arguments among those who practice sports medicine, all of whom are wiser than me about this particular subject matter. I will stick to general tips and leave the big stuff to better schooled people.

    Running style is the product of personal make up and individual biomechanics, but minor corrections can make a difference in performance and the prevention of injuries. If you think your form is subject to improvement, seek out a trainer or strength and conditioning coach. If you have been running without injury for years, there is probably no need for change, though.   

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    From The Top Down

    When running, the head should be in an upright position, neither up nor down. The head should be relaxed and the runner should be looking about 10 feet in front of him.


    Do not look down at your feet but focus on the horizon. This will strengten your back and neck and align them. Your chin should not jut out.


    The shoulders should be low and loose when running as this helps to maintain posture. They need to remain level and not dip from side to side with every stride.


    The arms should be relaxed and at a 90-degree angle. The swing should be with elbows down with the arch extending from the chest to the seam of the shorts. The upper body should not twist from side to side.


    Your hands control upper body tension. If you feel that you are clenching your fists, drop your arms and shake out the tension. Your arm swing should be in rhythm with your leg stride. 


    Runners need to run tall, at their full height with the back sraight. If you keep your head up and look ahead with your shoulders low, your torso and back will naturally straighten. 


    The hips are the center of gravity. If your torso and back are upright and straight, your hips will fall into alignment and point straight ahead. If you hunch your torso, your pelvis will also tilt and throw your body out of alignment.


    Running for distance requires a slight knee lift and a short stride. This will create a fluid motion and not waste energy. Your feet should land directly beneath your body to insure proper stride. Do not overstride. Your stride is too long if your lower leg extends in front of your body.    


    The runner should push off the ground with maximum force. His foot should strike the ground between heel and midfoot and roll forward. Try to spring off the ground when you roll onto your toes. Your feet should not slap against the ground.  


    Do not expend and waste energy through tension and stress in the face, hands or arms. Stay relaxed and save that energy. 


    For more tips on running, read the first article in this series, "Five Minutes of Running Can Add Years to Your Life." And remember, check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise program!


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Published On: August 22, 2014