More Fast and Fabulous Form Fixes
By Rick Morris
Do you need more running form tips? Efficient running form doesn’t need to be difficult to achieve. With just a few fast form fixes you can be on your way to a more efficient and effortless running stride. Sometimes it’s the little things that make all the difference. In the first fast fixes for fabulous form I highlighted some major but fast form fixes. All form fixes aren’t major and obvious changes. Some form fixes are small and subtle. Here are more running form tips that are small in form but large in function.
Turn Your Hands
A very common, but easily fixed form flaw is running with your shoulders rolled forward. That wastes energy and causes a tendency to over stride and run with a heavy, stumbling motion. You should always be running with your chest up and out. One easy way to accomplish that is to slightly rotate your hands from a neutral or thumbs up position to a slightly open or more palms up position. That small adjustment will bring elbows closer to your side and it will open up your shoulders, placing you in the correct posture with your chest out.
Another form flaw that contributes to the inefficient “rolled shoulders” position is looking down. Keep your head up when you run. Not only will it improve your running posture, but you will see more of the trail, road and your competition.
Do the Hip Press
A typical and fatal form flaw is sometimes known as “sitting in the bucket”. This is a running posture in which your hips are dropped down and behind you, much like sitting in the bucket. When you run with this posture you have excessive vertical movement with your legs, knees and body. You can easily avoid this form flaw by running with your hips pressed forward. Focus on maintaining the hips forward posture and run by leading with your hips. Where your hips go your body will follow. Do the hip press and most of your power and momentum will be directed efficiently forward rather than up and down.
Raise Your Toes
This is a perfect example of the little things making a big difference. Your toes are one of the smallest parts of your body, but your toe position can make a huge difference in your running efficiency. Dorsi-flexing your toes or raising the front of your foot up towards your lower leg does two important things for your running stride. Dorsi-flexing your foot initiates efficient knee and hip action that puts your leg in ideal position for peak efficiency. It also pre-stretches your power producing calf muscles so that they are in position to efficiently store and release the energy built up with your forward momentum and foot strike. It’s like cocking a gun and getting it ready to fire.
Pull, Don’t Push
You always hear distance runners and coaches preaching the importance of a strong and powerful push off. In my opinion that is a big mistake. A powerful push off consumes a lot of energy. Isn’t one of the primary goals of distance running to move quickly forward using the least amount of energy possible? Isn’t distance running all about efficiency and conserving energy rather than energy consumption? If you are going to conserve energy you really want to avoid a powerful push off. Instead, I think you should focus on easily and efficiently pulling your knee through in your running stride and let the elastic energy built up from your foot strike and forward momentum do most of the work for you. So pull, don’t push for a fast form fix.
To maintain full forward motion, without resorting to an energy consuming push off, you should keep all of your momentum directed forward. One easy way to do that is to run with a slight, whole body forward lean. Note that this is a whole body forward lean beginning at your feet, not an upper body forward lean beginning at your waist. This slight forward lean will initiate and maintain a forward “falling” effect. You should feel like you are standing on the edge of a cliff with your weight balanced so that you are almost, but not quite falling into the abyss. If you feel safe at the edge of the cliff you are too upright. If you feel like you are plunging into the depths you may be leaning too far forward.