Proper Running Form: Perfecting Your Technique

Not only can proper running form help you increase performance and maximize your workout, it can also help you reduce and avoid risk of injury. Here is some advice for perfecting your running form, how you can prevent injury and how to ingrain good technique and running habits! Let’s start from the ground up…


1)Your Feet

For optimal performance, runners need to achieve maximum force when pushing off of the running surface. On common misconception among runners is that you should be landing on the front of the foot or toes. In reality, proper running form requires a runner to land each stride on the middle of the foot before rolling into the front of the foot and toes. As you roll off your toes at the end of each stride, try to focus on pushing off of the ground with force. This will increase your running speed and help you avoid injury. Landing your strides too far forward on the foot can lead to toe and calf injuries while landing your strides too far toward the heel will cause to slow down. One additional thing to keep in mind is that your feet should always be pointed straight forward. Having your feet point inward or outward when running can dramatically increase your risk of injury.

Key Takeaways:

  • Keep your feet pointed straight forward
  • Land each stride on the middle of your foot before pushing off from your toes (land with your foot parallel to the ground)
  • Focus on running quietly–a clapping sound when landing is a sign that your form may be incorrect

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2)Your Legs

Depending on the type of running you perform, leg position and technique varies. For example, sprinters will focus on lifting their knees high when taking strides in order to achieve maximum power over a shorter time span. Distance focused runners (the audience this article is geared toward) will want to focus more a slight knee lift and quick leg turnover with a quicker, shorter stride. Trying to maintain high knee lift when running longer distance will increase fatigue. Good leg position also requires a runner to land each stride directly under your body. Too long of strides will cause you to land too far toward your heel (as discussed previously) and strides that are too short will cause you to land too far forward on your foot.

Key Takeaways:

  • Focus on landing with your leg directly under your body for optimal stride length
  • Don’t worry about having a high knee lift if you are not sprinting

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3)Your Hips

Since your hips serve as your body’s center of gravity, it’s important that they are in good position during your run to avoid injury and increase performance. The positioning of your hips relies on the proper positioning of your upper body. When your torso is comfortably upright, your hips will naturally fall into proper position. If you are leaning too far forward during your run, you could be placing additional stress and pressure on your lower back. Focus on keeping your hips parallel to the ground. If you find yourself having trouble determining the proper position, having a friend video tape you while running can help you clearly see whether or not your hips are aligned correctly.

Key Takeaways:

  • Make sure your hips are parallel to the ground when running
  • Have a friend video tape you running to get a good idea of your hip position

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4)Your Torso

As mentioned above, having your torso properly positioned during a run is crucial to ensuring the rest of your body is in position. An upright running position where your torso is almost directly perpendicular to the ground will help promote good breathing and length of strides. This is where the term “running tall” comes from. If you take a deep breath during a run and feel yourself straighten up as a result, it may be a sign you were beginning to slouch. The position of your head and shoulders can also impact your torso position…

Key Takeaways:

  • Stand tall and run in an upright position with your torso aligned perpendicular to the ground
  • Take a deep breath during your run and relax–this can help you straighten up and achieve proper torso positioning

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5)Your Arms & Shoulders

For optimal performance when running, your positioning and movements of the shoulder and arms can make a definite impact. Focus on keeping your shoulders low and relaxed during your run. In addition, your shoulders should remain level when running and not dip or tilt to either side.

Your arms, an often over-looked part of proper running form, control the tension of your entire upper body during a run. It’s important to keep your arms relaxed, with your hands open, while swinging them in conjunction with your legs during your strides. Keep your hands relaxed as well and let your fingers gently touch your palm. With a 90 degree bend in the elbows, focus on your arms moving directly forward and back with little movement across your body and inward.

Key Takeaways:

  • Have a 90 degree bend in your elbows
  • Keep your hands relaxed with your fingers gently touching your palms
  • Keep your shoulders relaxed and hanging freely
  • Swing your arms directly forward and back during your strides
  • Your arms should move forward in conjunction with your legs

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6)Your Head Tilt

Keep your eyes focused on the ground 20 feet in front of you at all times. Not only will this help you properly align your torso and hips, but it is also a best for your safety. Looking down toward your feet when running will be detrimental to your entire running posture and it’s also very dangerous. One more thing to keep in mind is to make sure your neck is in a relaxed and upright position. Don’t push your chin forward–this will cause increase stress and tension on your neck and back when running.

Key Takeaways:

  • Keep your neck and head in a relaxed and upright position
  • Stare at the ground 20 feet in front of you
  • Don’t look down toward your feet when running

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For drills and training tips to help you with your running form and posture, check out



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