Staying mindful of your body mechanics will save energy and reduce unnecessary movement to help you run stronger, with greater power and a more efficient stride, says Craig Friedman, vice president of the performance innovation team at EXOS.
Assess your posture and stride rate using the 7 keys that follow. This will help you run with intention, which alone will instantly improve your mechanics.
1. PULL YOUR TOES UP
Most running injuries occur by running with your toes pointed down toward the ground. Aim to land through the middle of your arch by keeping your toes pulled up. Think about sliding your heel back and up underneath your butt. This will put you in the proper position to land on the balls of your feet.
2. DON’T OVERSTRIDE
Your feet should land beneath your hips, not out in front of your body. One way to avoid overstriding: Speed up your stride rate. If you’re with a faster stride rate, you’ll pick your feet up and put them down quickly, making it very hard to overstride. Your feet should strike the ground roughly 170-180 times a minute.
3. KEEP YOUR TORSO ENGAGED
Your abdominal muscles should stay flexed if you’re running tall. Try lifting your head as far away from your tailbone as possible to maximize the muscle contraction and train your core while you run. Another way to think about it: Focus on running tall as if a string was pulling your hips forward.
4. RELAX THE IRON FIST
Keep your hands lightly cupped, but don’t make a fist. Fists cause your forearms to tense up, which impedes proper shoulder motion. Also, be careful not to tense your fingers and slice through the air. This could cause your arms to move in a circular action instead of moving forward.
5. KEEP YOUR SHOULDERS BACK AND DOWN
There’s a tendency to hunch over as you get tired. Resist it by keeping your shoulders back and down so your chest is lifted. Move your arms from your shoulder, so your elbow angle remains the same.
6. LOOK FOR AN ANGLE
Keep your elbows fixed at right angles (bent 90 degrees) and pulled close towards your body. Don’t allow them to flare out. Your arm action will be more efficient.
7. EYES UP
Keep your head up and your eyes fixed on the horizon to stay tall and upright while your run.
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