Having good running form is key to ensure efficient movement, stay injury free and enjoy every moment of your training up until you cross the finish line! Achieving proper running form takes time and focus. Luckily there are simple stretches, drills and practices to help you along the way. Check out this video from Runner’s World on proper running form.
There are two types of stretching; static, holding a stretch without moving, and dynamic, moving through a range of motion. Dynamic stretching is a great way to warm up your body before a run and after as a cool down. Moving while you stretch activates the muscles you’ll use, improves range of motion and enhances muscle performance. Static stretching is best to be kept for after runs as it targets the muscles to relax and impairs their ability to store energy.
Try these popular dynamic stretches:
- Leg Swings: Holding onto something stable, swing one leg to your side and then back across your torso. Perform 10 or more times on each side.
- Hip Circles: Standing with feet hip width apart, rotate your hips clockwise in a circular motion and then counterclockwise. Perform 10 times on each side.
- Walking Lunges: Step forward with a long stride and drop your back leg towards the ground by bending your knee in a controlled flowing motion. Focus on keeping the front knee over your ankle. Perform 10 times on each leg.
- Monster Walk: Standing tall, walk forward alternating lifting each leg straight in front of you and back down. Perform 10 on each side.
- Butt Kicks: Walking forward, kick your heels up towards your glutes and back down. Peform 10 on each side.
Drills are a great way for beginners and more advanced runners to increase athleticism, reinforce proper mechanics, and improve form. They should be performed a couple times a week after a light warm-up before your run. Jason Fitzgerald of Strength Running has put together a great, quick video of basic drills that can be done anywhere. Perform each drill a few times for about 50 meters. If getting in all 7 drills is time consuming, feel free to choose just a few that will be most helpful to your training.
Here is a list of the drills from Jason’s video and how each drill is helpful:
- High Knees: Reinforces midfoot landing, high cadence, and hamstring flexibility
- A-Skip: Reinforces midfoot landing, high cadence, and improves coordination
- B-Skip: Improves coordination and hamstring flexibility
- Butt-kicks (first variation): Increases hip flexor strength and reinforces midfoot landing
- Butt-kicks (second variation in the video): Improves quadricep and hip flexor flexibility while reinforcing high cadence
- Straight-leg bounds: Activates glutes and improves coordination
- Carioca (grapvine): Improves coordination and increases hip flexibility
Believe it or not, rolling your muscles on a cheap, foam tube can help avoid injuries, rehab muscles, improve circulation and extend your running lifetime! Using a foam roller to warm-up and cool-down will prepare your body for your workout, help it recover faster and keep problem areas loose. Check out this great foam rolling video routine from Runner’s World and add it to your fitness routine today! Visit your local running store, sports store or shop on Amazon to purchase your own personal foam roller.