Safe Running Technique
Running is a sport that many enjoy and it is one of the most beneficial exercises when considering cardiovascular health. However, running can cause many injuries throughout the whole body ranging from runner’s knee to stress fractures that may even require surgery. There are a few simple modifications that can be made to reduce the risk for injury when running.
It is always my philosophy to start from the bottom of the body and move up when considering form. So, let’s start by going over the feet. When running it is very important to consider the shoes you will be wearing, invest in some good shoes that will absorb shock and prevent an ankle injury. When running ensure that with each step your foot is landing properly, right below the forward hip to support the body. When you step roll the foot forward from the heel to the toe, with the toes pointed straight forward. Plant the foot down in front of you and ensure that the foot lands through the center and not out towards the outside of the foot or through the inside of the arch.
Knees are a fragile joining that are not meant to absorb shock. It is important to support the knees by supporting the feet. Allow your stride to happen behind you and plant the feet down underneath the forward hip ensuring that the hip is not forced to absorb shock. Remember that when you are running it is important to avoid over-bending the knees. Lean the upper body forward slightly, anytime the body comes after the knees it sends a “put on the brakes'' signal to the knees, forcing them to absorb shock.
Leaning forward slightly is important to protect the knees, but it may cause slouching through the upper body. To prevent slouching, ensure that your hips are squared forward and the upper body is up right and straight through the spine and upper back. Keep the low belly slightly engaged by pulling the belly button up and in to support the back. Gently draw the shoulder blades together to pull the chest forward a bit and make your posture perfect. Keep the gaze forward and ahead, this keeps the head in line with the spine and supports the neck.
Swinging the arms is something that comes naturally, but there is a proper way to swing them and keep them engaged to make your running experience more beneficial. Move the arms in a light swinging motion swinging opposite the arm forward that is opposite to the forward foot. Keep the arms bent at a 90 degree angle and allow the hands to relax slightly.
Hopefully these little tips will help you stabilize your body, prevent injury, and strengthen your running practice! Good luck out there and be safe.