Believe it or not, there’s more to running than just stepping out the door in a new pair of sneaks. For figuring out what can you do to prevent running injuries and get started on the right track, check out our 5 fundamentals of how to run properly for beginners.
A little bit of awareness goes a long way. It’s easy to get lazy with your posture, but if you spend just a few minutes a day lining everything up, your running gets stronger.
Line up that ear, shoulder, hip, knee and ankle all the way down in a straight line. Trust us, your race photos will look better already!
Squeeze the belly and butt to fully support the hips. Also, think about screwing your feet into the ground. This will create rotation in the hips and provide a stable base to help prevent injury with.
Once you know what proper running posture feels like, it’s time to train the body’s ability to hold that strong and stable position. Your back and stomach muscles provide the framework you’ll need to hold good form throughout your run. Try the following exercises:
Lie on your back and press your lower back into the ground. Lift your knees, head, and shoulders up, and reach forward with straight arms. Don’t let that lower back arch off the ground. Hold this position for 30 seconds.
Once you have that down comfortably, work towards extending both arms back over your head and both legs out at an upward angle in front of you. Keep your stomach and legs tight. Again, don’t let that low back slip! Hold this position for 30 seconds, or longer as you get stronger.
Turn over on your stomach, in “Superman” position. Before you lift your arms and legs, try squeezing your butt and belly tight to support that lower back. You don’t need to lift your arms and legs very high for this one to be effective!
Bring your arms and legs up just a few inches, muscles held tight to create one long curve. Work up to holding this for 30 seconds or longer.
Breathing is simple right? In, out, in, out? Well, when it comes to running, there’s a lot more that goes into it. Your posture and breathing are very much related to each other. Easier breathing creates better-supported posture and your most efficient version of running!
Running tall and pulled up in your posture allows you to use your diaphragm for deeper breathing. To understand how this should feel, lay down on the ground putting one hand on your chest and the other on your belly.
As you breathe in, you should feel the hand on your chest rise. As you continue to inhale deeper, the hand on the belly should then follow suit. For the exhale, reverse the process. Hand on the belly lowers, followed by the hand on the chest. Take a few deep breaths this way and notice how it feels to fully expand the lungs, using your diaphragm to push the breath back out.
Now sit or stand up and try all this again! To help sustain this proper breathing when running, engage the core muscles while releasing any tension built up in the shoulders and neck.
To keep yourself breathing deeply through your diaphragm, try breathing only through your nose for the beginning and ending a few minutes of every run. Nose breathing will force your diaphragm to do the work.
Don’t be worried if this doesn’t feel natural at first. No doubt you will initially need to slow down your running and focus hard. After even just a few runs though, you’ll be feeling the benefits and long term changes in your running!
Your upper body acts as the counterbalance to the lower body as you run. A fluid, relaxed arm swing that helps you resist the twist of the lower body will make your runs feel faster and more fluid.
To get a feel for relaxing your arm swing and separating the shoulder movement from the upper body, stand with one foot in front of the other, offset like you are mid-stride.
Pump the arms back and forth for 15-20 seconds, driving that elbow back and being careful not to cross your arms in front of you. Now switch your feet and repeat that arm swing for 15-20 seconds. Start small and fluid, exaggerating the movement as you get going.
Remember to keep those shoulders relaxed and down away from your ears!
Last, we get to the feet. When your cadence is too slow, over-striding and form collapse all leave you prone to injury. So pick up those feet! Good news is that this will be a lot easier having practiced everything we already talked about.
Stand up tall and start running in place, bringing your knees up to your chest at about 50% of max height. After about 15-20 seconds, try picking those feet up a little faster, challenging yourself to get those knees all the way up to be in line with your hips.
Like the high knees, start running in place, but this time emphasizing a heel kick up to your glutes. Keep those knees dropped straight down from the hips and start at about a 50% effort. Eventually, work up to making contact with your glutes on each kick.
Practice both the high knees and the butt kicks in 10-20 meter running increments, for 3 rounds. These are sure to wake up your muscles as well as get you moving faster and lighter on your feet.
So stand up tall, engage that core, relax your arms, breathe deep and pick up those feet for instantly more fluid and injury-free running!