Four steps to more efficient, lower impact running technique

Whether you are just beginning or preparing for your next event it could help you to run better and healthier: 

1. Posture – Straight and tall or slouching and hunched, are the arms rotating or free flowing back and forward. If you are slouched at the hips and hunched over at the spine you are restricting your breathing, your neck and back muscles are working harder therefore wasting energy. If your arms are over rotating inwards, you are causing your hips to rotate excessively. Meaning that you are wasting energy going side to side rather than straight ahead. Lift you head, shoulders and hips; keep your arms relaxed and straight – you will notice a difference straight away. 

2. Body Position– Lean forward from your ankles. Think of / rather than \. Don’t bend at the waist, imagine a falling domino – it cannot bend and still fall into the next domino. It remains straight and its momentum causes it to fall forward. Your body wants to be at a slight angle, so your momentum helps you forward. Keep your chest and hips forward, shoulders relaxed and look straight ahead rather than down at the floor. 

3. Cadence– How many steps per minute you are doing. Aim for approximately 170-180 steps per minute. Some watches calculate this now, but you can easily just set a 1-minute timer and run your normal speed whilst counting the times your right foot hits the ground and doubling the number. If it is a low number, you are perhaps over striding, this can overload the ankle, knee and hip joints and more than likely an injury is waiting to strike. 

4. Stride length– A long stride requires a lot more strength and power compared to a short stride. It can put a lot more stress and strain onto the joints. However, if strides are too short then you will have to do hundreds more strides during a run. There is a sweet spot where you can run without tiring the legs too quickly (see cadence above). Your foot should land softly underneath your centre of mass and a bent knee. Try to avoid excessive heel striking.  A straight leg landing in front of the centre of mass is essentially like putting the brakes on and red flag to injury occurring.

Running technique is a high contributing factor to injuries and performance. Consider the above basic, yet efficient ways to improve your running technique. But also consider what strength exercises you are doing; your body needs to be strong enough to cope with the demands of running. With this, it could be that you are then on your way to becoming a stronger healthier runner! 

Alex Cann

AC Running and Fitness