Suffering from pain, soreness in certain muscles or even restricted breathing when you run? These could be signs of poor running technique. Here’s eight signs indicating poor running technique, and how to work on these weaknesses.
- Neck pain. Due to poking the head forwards – your chin won’t get you there quicker! Keep your head in a neutral position.
- Shoulder pain. This indicates you aren’t relaxed through your upper body. Roll your shoulders back and down, making sure there is no tension through the shoulders and neck but that your upper body is still being pulled up towards the sky.
- Knee or hip pain particularly after running on undulations. When running uphill, the temptation will be to lengthen the stride and lean into the hill but instead focus on maintaining your normal upright position, let the foot land under the hip and propel off from the forefoot, while engaging those glutes and pushing through the hips.
- Elbows shooting out to the sides and hands crossing the body. Your arms should be moving freely and smoothly from the shoulders in a straight line backwards and forwards in short, efficient movements with a 90-degree bend at the elbow – not rotating across your body. Running is a linear (straightforwards) sport, so we want all of our energy going forwards towards that finish line!
- Feeling as if you are leaning backwards. What we are striving for is for your foot to land on the ground in a more mid-foot to forefoot fashion (rather than consistently heel striking). You want the foot to land underneath the hip, not ahead or in front of it and for the foot to have as little contact with the ground as possible.
- Overly fatigued or aching quads or hips – indicating these muscles are cheating by working more than others needed to propel each stride forwards i.e usually your glutes. It is essential to complete running-specific strength and conditioning/core work in order to correct weaknesses or bad habits. As we fatigue our technique will inevitably fade; this is where the strength work needs to kick in
- Particular muscles being more sore or varying from one side to the other as this could indicate a strength or biomechanical imbalance. Perform strengthening exercises focusing on the muscles that frequently become sore after running.
- Restricted breathing on easy runs. This may indicate your chest isn’t up. Concentrate on keeping your chest up, open and forwards.
Here are three things to think about when working on your technique:
Run on the clouds – imagine you are running on the clouds so if the foot stays on the ground for too long it will sink straight through it.
Tread lightly – consciously try to limit the sound of your foot strike on the ground.
Run on hot coals – OK, not literally, but try to imagine the ground as super heated under your feet. Don’t get burnt!