If you ask any running coach or physio how important good technique is, you’re sure to open up a real can of worms. While there are certainly some elite athletes with unusual running technique, I believe that correct form plays a role in both injury prevention and performance enhancement.
So what does good running technique look like?
- Overall posture – typically, we’re aiming for the same optimal alignment that we’d look for in any task. That is, a neutral spine, shoulders over hips, feet under hips. The only difference in running is that we are also wanting a slight forward lean to encourage the forward momentum. This forward lean should come from the ankles
- Leg cycle – running stride should be driven by hip movement. The upper thigh should swing upwards to initiate the stride, with the knee and ankle following through. The foot should then hit the ground underneath the hip. If the foot lands in front this changes the running action from a “push” to a “pull” which is less efficient and a higher risk of injury.
- Pelvis control – to avoid wasting energy (and unnecessarily loading other structures like your lower back), we also want to see a stable pelvis in all directions. That is, there should be minimal movement of the pelvis forward to back or side to side.
- Foot position – the foot should stay dorsiflexed (ie toes up) throughout cycle. When the foot hits the ground, ideally it’s the middle to front of the foot that makes initial contact, not the heel
- Arm drive – focus should be on driving the arm back (often people think of pulling the arms up in front). Legs will copy what the arms do – so important that arm drive stays square (not across body)
Some of these technique points, like arm drive, can be easy to modify and make an immediate and noticeable improvement. However others, like pelvis stability, might be more challenging and also require strength training or consistent technical work (such as drills) to achieve lasting change. If you are interested in improving your running or making yourself more injury-proof, book in with one of our physios today.