Hey WILDR Folks! I get tons of questions on running technique. It’s one of those aspects of running that many people get stuck on because they think there’s only one, perfect way to run. And that’s just not the case! However, you can make small adjustments to run more efficiently. I have a three-step approach to effectively change your running technique and stride.
Before We Get Started on Running Technique
Everyone’s body is different. Some people have longer femurs relative to their lower legs. Some people have hips that feel like they’re right up at their armpits. Other people have longer torsos and shorter legs.
Finding the perfect stride is more about following general principles than it is about making you have an exact angle at a certain joint. When it comes to changing your running technique, we want to make sure that you do so slowly.
Any time you change how you’re doing an activity, you’re changing how it’s loading your tissues, your muscles, your joints, your ligaments, etc. If we make a drastic change to our technique, and then load on a bunch of miles onto that change, we’re actually increasing our potential for injury.
Instead, we want to work in a progressive overload format. Give your body a little bit of a stimulus or a challenge, then let it adapt to that challenge before doing a bigger challenge.
Also, when it comes to changing running techniques, taking the time to think about that change will actually make your running more difficult. If you are making changes to your running stride, you might see a reduction in running speed in the short term. But I promise you’ll see a far greater impact in the long term!
Step 1: Incorporate Strength and Mobility
I have lots of resources on improving both strength and mobility for runners to incorporate into your routine!
- 5 Strength Exercises for Runners
- Runners Calves Mobility and Strength
- 8 Week Dumbbell Trail Running Ready Program
- Release Tight Hamstrings After a Run
Step 2: Incorporate Running Drills to Change Your Running Technique
Step two is doing running drills that will subconsciously help you change your running technique and build up strength as well.
My number one favourite drill is the B skip (or B March to start), and running with your hands overhead on a broomstick – it looks silly, but it immediately changes your alignment.
Step 3: Spend Time Running At Faster Speeds While Feeling Smooth
Step three is spending time running at faster speeds while feeling smooth. Whether you are a beginner runner, a first-timer or a very elite athlete, faster running intervals at a smooth intensity can lead to more efficient running.
This rewiring you do with efficient running is going to seep its way into your slower runs as well.
Tips for Running Posture
As I said previously, everyone’s body is different. But, there are a few general principles I look for in runners so they are running efficiently and safely.
- Run in a tall but neutral, relaxed posture. Shoulders should be back and down and eyes should be looking roughly at the horizon. Don’t be afraid to look up.
- Feet land relatively close to directly underneath the hips, instead of having them in a straight line or crossing over. Envision a line from your shoulders down through your hips and to the ground. Your feet should land relatively close to this line.
- Your knees should work like hinges. We don’t want to see the knees coming too far in or going out too far.
- And, your feet should be pointed straight ahead, not duck foot or pointing in. If your feet are slightly in/out, that’s ok.
- When we look at a runner from the side, the most important thing we’re looking for is for the foot landing relatively close to underneath their centre of mass. You can find your centre of mass by drawing a line through the shoulder and the hip to the ground. You want your foot to be relatively close to directly underneath that line.
Forefoot Landing or Heel Strike First?
You’ve likely read a lot of arguments in the running world about whether people should have a forefoot landing or a heel strike.
When we look at elite runners, it’s a split on how people are landing. It’s also very difficult to figure out when people are actually loading their foot. You can’t really tell by looking with your eyes if someone is a heel or forefoot striker.
What we do know from research is if you’re landing with your heel, you’re putting more stress and strain through your knees. If you’re landing closer to the middle or forefoot, you are putting more stress through the ankle.
Those forces have to go somewhere, so we need to figure out how to share them between the joints. The most important thing that I will come back to, though, is where that foot is landing relative to your centre of mass.
We want to find a neutral spine because that is going to allow us to extend the hip and use the glutes most effectively to power us forward.