With brighter evenings and warmer weather upon us, an after-work jog might seem like a nice way to get back into fitness. But before you lace up those running shoes and hit the pavement, there are a few things you need to know—namely, proper running form. To get the facts on running alignment, we reached out to Jacqueline Kasen, body architect at Anatomy at 1220, for her expert advice on the matter.
Sure, running sounds simple enough. It's just like walking but faster, right? According to Kasen, it's not that easy. Running without upholding proper form could potentially, over time, lead to "injuries, joint pain, and or imbalances in the body," says Kasen. She further adds, "If the body is out of alignment, the impact may be compensated in other areas which can position the body to take on joint pain." In an attempt to spare us injury, Kasen has put together some tips on how to properly align our bodies while running. For how you can improve upon your running form, keep on reading.
1. Head and Trunk Position
According to Kasen, when setting up your body for a run, your head and neck should be in a neutral position and not craning forward, which can happen while running. As for the trunk, Kasen says it should be "stable and controlled without much rotation," as "rotation could develop into back injuries."
2. Arm Movement
Align your arms by adjusting your shoulders. They should be "nice and relaxed" without any shrugging, says Kasen. Then, form a 90º angle with your arms by bending your elbows, keeping your wrists relaxed and fists soft. Once in motion, move your arms in sync with your legs. If your legs start to get tired, Kasen says you can add momentum by pumping your arms with each stride.
3. Leg Stride
When you are figuring out the correct stride length, Kasen says to keep your stride on the "shorter side rather than longer." You can do this by avoiding "overstriding," the act of reaching too far forward with your foot. To keep up the momentum, Kasen says to drive your stride with a heel-to-toe motion and a seamless follow-through.
4. Foot Placement
Arguably the most important part of proper running form is your gait. "If your feet are placed incorrectly in the movement, your knees and hips will not be aligned correctly, which can lead to joint pain and injuries," says Kasen. To avoid this, pronate your feet, meaning let your foot naturally roll inward as the outside of the heel hits the ground. This roll helps to "absorb the impact for the whole body, especially the leg," she explains, further suggesting getting your gait analyzed to find the proper running shoes.