Everyone has a unique running style, but there are a number of things a person can do to improve his or her running techniques. An example is changing the way the foot strikes the ground. So-called heel-strike runners are less efficient and more likely to suffer from an injury than midfoot runners. Other tips include landing with the foot inline or slightly behind the body’s center of gravity, strengthening the muscles that provide pelvic stability and running at the right speed.
Improving running techniques isn’t just important for efficiency and achieving a quicker time; it also can help reduce the chance of injury. An efficient runner is often said to glide over the surface, whereas an inefficient runner appears to struggle much harder for the same movement. Even so, it’s important for a runner to make changes to his or her style gradually rather than suddenly switching. Once the body is used to a certain way of running, injuries are more likely to happen if the style is suddenly changed.
An important part of improving running techniques is to avoid heel striking. When the foot comes down, many inefficient runners land with it in front of the body and the impact through the heel. This results in the forward leg resisting the motion of the body and increases the impact through the ankle, knee and hip. Instead, an efficient runner should land with the foot in line with the body and place the impact through the midfoot.
Posture is often ignored by runners, but improving it can greatly affect the efficiency of running techniques. The pelvis is an essential part of the body’s kinetic chain, because it allows the force of the feet hitting the ground to travel up through the body and into the back. If the muscles surrounding the pelvis are weak, then some of this force is lost. Improving the strength of the abdominal and gluteal muscles is essential for good pelvic stability.
Another important part of improving running techniques is speed. Many people who enjoy running to keep fit jog at speeds less than 6 mph (9.66 kmh). Although this feels like a good workout, it is actually far less efficient than just walking fast. It also is a lot harder on the joints, which absorb a greater impact when running than when walking. For this reason, slow joggers may be better off going for a fast walk.