It is simply not enough to be able to run faster and for longer distances. All of your effort will come to naught if your training is cut short because of you sustain an injury because of a bad technique. The manner in which we run affects the bones and muscles of the feet, calves, and knees so one must be careful while graduating from a walker to a runner. Thankfully these injuries are preventable if you keep a few basic fitness tips in mind the next time you head out for a jog.
When running, do not lean too far ahead. This is easy to do, especially when you are looking down at the path, instead of looking at what’s ahead. Looking down causes the head and shoulder to be inclined and pointing downwards. Instead, you need to shift your gaze up and look at the ground a few feet ahead of you. This will allow you to straighten your back and will make you lean only marginally. The best runners lean forward from the feet, not from the waist.
Another common mistake that beginners make is by taking very long strides in order to gain greater distances in a short period of time. Unfortunately, if you do this for long runs you will be exhausted very soon, defeating the very purpose of the exercise. The way to avoid unnecessarily exhausting yourself is by keeping a tab on how far ahead your feet land. The appropriate length of stride should be in line with your head. As explained above, the head and the torso shouldn’t be leaning too far ahead, and the foot should land approximately just below your head.
Some runners love the ‘thump’ sound and feel that they get from every step that they take. In a sense, it emphasises to them the benefit they are getting from each step. However, this extra pressure isn’t adding value to their run. To the contrary it is impacting the soles of your feet and putting extra pressure on your leg muscles and joints that need to cushion the jarring effect. Try and go easy on yourself; take gentle strides when running.
When taking a stride, remember to land your feet between the heel and the mid-foot. Landing on your mid-foot is an optimum posture since it minimizes the amount of friction that the body goes through. The other two extremes, i.e. landing on your toes or on your heels just causes extra friction, wastes energy and can lead to fatigue, and worse, injury.
Finally, remember to keep your arms relaxed while running. Pushing them aggressively forward achieves little. A nice, gentle backward-forward movement of the arms will give you a good rhythm which you can carry forward into the strides that you are taking. You can occasionally just drop your hands down to the side of your body and just shake them out to let go of the fatigue that might have built up in the arms after a long run.
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