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November 03, 2014

Small Tweaks to Your Form to Make a Difference Today

Written by Dena Evans

running-formEvery runner or walker has a slightly different style.  Each of us move a bit differently, but if you are looking for a few quick and subtle tips to start with as you begin to train for a goal race, or are an experienced athlete looking for reminders, here are a few key concepts to keep in mind when trying to move efficiently.

 

Relax and drop your shoulders

Hunched up shoulders are tense shoulders.  Tense shoulders take energy away from where you need it and result in a fatigued feeling well before you have earned it.  Try to keep your shoulders low enough that if your arms hang at about 90 degrees, your hands will brush your pockets (or where your pockets would be) when you swing your arms.

 

Keep your head neutral

As you run, ideally your body should stack up in a column leaning barely forward. If your head is tilted forward looking at the ground or your chin is up due to fatigue, it disrupts the efficiency of this line and quickens the onset of that achy, tired feeling many athletes get in their upper back toward the end of longer efforts.  Keep your eyes on a spot around 15 yards ahead so your head sits in line with the rest of your spine, and avoid the distraction of an achy upper body for a few more precious miles.

 

Concentrate on a crisp stride cadence

Many athletes grow up assuming that longer strides will help an athlete cover more ground, faster.  While it is true that while sprinting, you might cover more ground per stride, your stride rate is pretty quick.  Concentrate on the rate aspect of the equation, rather than the distance.  When you take long, bound-y strides, all that time in the air just results in a greater decrease in speed by the time the next foot hits the ground.  Concentration on keeping a crisp stride rhythm can provide a welcome distraction when tired, and also helps keep your body in line.

 

Engage your core

The less your midsection vacillates or rotates per stride, the more efficiently your body can move forward.  Drawing your navel to your spine (figuratively) and using that tightened core to help your posture can make it easier for your legs to cycle under you efficiently, your arms to swing front and back, instead of side to side, and for your body to get to the finish line with less strain and hopefully less time.

 

There are innumerable exercises to help athletes improve their efficiency while striding (try these suggestions from a previous blog post). Sometimes these can be intimidating to recreational athletes, but these small tweaks can make a difference without feeling the need to completely overhaul your form. Experiment and see if the suggestions above can make a difference.

 

 

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