With warm weather finally here, it’s time to strap on your sneakers, hit the pavement and leave the treadmill behind. There’s no better time to improve your running form than now, when you have the next six months to take advantage of the sunshine and fresh air outside. To help you, we’ve come up with five tips to ensure your body stays in top form and remains injury free.
When you’re running, you want to stay as relaxed and as loose as possible. Not only does tensing your body cause you to exert more energy, but it will also cause greater strain on your knees – and you’ll feel that afterwards.
To get into the habit of staying loose while you run, practice jogging slowly. This allows you to give your body that extra bit of attention to make sure you’re not tensing up.
The main reason to lean forward when you’re running is to avoid the dreaded heel-strike. Obviously when running you’re going to lead with your legs, but you want to avoid overreaching because that causes your foot to land heel-first. On the plus side, leaning forward will make running easier and give you the ability to run faster as well.
Another way to make running easier and avoid heel-strikes is to take shorter strides. Just like leaning forward, this also prevents you from overreaching. Instead, your legs will stay more centered underneath you, which allows them to work less while keeping your body loose.
What is this horrid heel-strike we keep mentioning? Well, it’s pretty close to what it sounds like – when your heel is the first part of your foot to hit the pavement. It’s a problem because it delivers a greater impact directly to your knees when your legs are in a relatively straight position. This creates more pain later on and could even lead to more serious damage.
By taking shorter strides you are more likely to land on the middle of your foot instead, which creates less stress on your knees. Investing in a high quality running shoe can also help you avoid heel-strikes.
If you look down at the ground when you’re running, are your knees and feet pointing straight? Or are they rotated in or outward? Take note because if they’re not straight, this can lead to a higher chance of creating knee or ankle pain after your run.
All these tips come down to one key point – slow down. Take the extra time to pay attention to your body and its motion, and you’ll be much more likely to run easier, faster, and with less pain before and after your run.