A common mistake made by newbies and the elite veterans is running with improper form. Even if you’re currently running with bad form you may not experience any problems yet, but eventually they’ll start popping up one after the other. Here are some quick and easy signs your running form is off.
Neck pain is a common sign that your form is slightly off, but it’s a relatively easy fix. Just a small tweak to how you hold your head will make a difference.
Prevent straining your neck by keeping your head stacked over your spine, without tilting too far up or down, with your focus straight ahead and not looking down at the ground. This will also help with your breathing as well, since looking down at the ground makes you consume more oxygen than if you were looking straight ahead.
Plus, once your head and neck are in the right position your body will follow keeping you upright.
Shoulder and upper back pain are a sign that you’re hunching your back when you run. Slumping your shoulders not only crushes your lungs making it harder for you to take a deep breath but causes tension and pain as you run. If you tend to get a lot of side stitches when running, this might be the culprit behind it.
Stand up straight with your shoulders back, and with your core engaged – pull your belly button in towards your spine. A strong core will instantly improve your form by holding your upper body.
Clenched fists are a sign of tension across your back and shoulders. If you’re tightening up and clenching your muscles, you’re more likely to tire out quicker, stopping you from running further for longer, and increasing your risk of injury.
Release your hands and shake out any tension and try to keep them loose.
Slowing Your Pace
Despite the apparent logic to slow down if you’re tired, in pain, or a newbie. Runners often report a slower pace leaves them with aching knee – AKA “runner’s knee.” This problem is a biomechanical one.
Running at a pace of 10min per mile, or slower puts you at a higher risk of pain around the kneecap as the slower pace means your knees move through a smaller range of motion putting more demand and stress on the joint.
The quickest and easiest way to find your optimum pace is the talk test; you should be able to hold a conversation and still run comfortably. If you’re still struggling with this pace, try changing your pace until you find one that allows you to run without pain, but not completely breathless.
Plus whether you’re a newbie, or not meant to run like Usain Bolt at the London Olympics, you can strengthen the muscles around your knee which will help get rid of any knee pain. Make sure to add a variety of lunges, and squats to your exercise routine to begin with, and stretch your quads, hamstrings, and glutes regularly.
Any pain around your foot and/or ankle could be a sign of ill-fitting shoes causing poor running form.
If your laces aren’t tied tight enough, or your shoes aren’t supporting your feet correctly, your feet will slide around in your shoes. If you’re tensing your feet and legs to grip to keep you from sliding around you may be putting unnecessary strain on the very delicate tendons and muscles that make up your feet.
What’re Your Thought?
Running with proper form is super important, improper form can lead to shin splints, knee pain, sprained ankles, stress fractures, and the list could continue. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Ally Gonzales is the founder & editor-in-chief of RunningSoleGirl. Along with blogging she is also juggling attending college and majoring in Exercise and Sports Science with a Sports Management minor.