Everyday you can usually spot someone who chooses running as their source of daily exercise. So many times people pass by, running in pain and obviously not enjoying the popular cardiovascular activity. Improper technique is the main culprit for less enjoyment and injury among runners. Maybe they would enjoy running a little more if they knew the proper techniques. Here are a few tips to help you pick up your pace and stay injury free:
Breathing – Take big, deep inhalations and exhalations similar to the way you yawn. This will help you receive the oxygen your body needs. Too many people breathe too shallow when they run, causing a hyperventilation effect. Slow down the running pace if you need to, but concentrate on your breathing.
Stride and Foot Contact – When jogging, open your stride but lean slightly forward to a point where you will land closer to the middle of your foot – not the back of your heel but the middle of your foot – and roll across your foot, pushing off the ground with your toes. But not flat footed! Many people run flat footed, back of heel strike, or on their toes causing stress on their feet, lower back, hips, knees and ankles. You can eliminate this by following the simple audio test. If you can hear your feet hitting the ground when you run, then you are running wrong. It should sound like your shoes are rolling on the ground quietly. Comfortable running shoes will also aid in prevention of injuries. Truly – it depends on if you are sprinting or jogging. If you are sprinting you will run more on your toes and when jogging you want a roll of the foot off the mid foot / top of heel (not bottom of heel).
Arm Swing – You should have a relaxed arm swing but very pronounced. Swing your hands from about chest high to just past your hips. The term “hip to lip” is a good way to remember this when you are running. Your arms should be slightly bent but not flexed. Run limp wristed. It is impossible to flex your arms with a limp wrist.
Relaxed Upper Body – You should relax your fists, arms, shoulders, and face. Too many people clench their fists and grit their teeth when they run. This causes the oxygenated blood that you need to go to your legs to also go to your upper body. The only things that need to be working when you are running are your “lungs and your legs.”
Start slowly and warm up – Do not stretch your legs until you have warmed up your body by jogging or biking slowly for about 5-10 minutes. Run every other day if you are just beginning and only add mileage to your run as you feel comfortable.
Running is statistically one of the most potentially dangerous exercises you can do, but it does not have to be as long as you remember to do everything in moderation and follow these running tips. So, do not be one of 50% of runners nationwide who injure themselves this year by running too often and incorrectly. Good luck and enjoy probably one of the best weight loss plans known to man.
Especially if you are overweight by 20-30+ lbs – running can be downright dangerous for long distances / even sprints. So pick a non impact aerobic activity as you lose weight to avoid the extra impact on your hips, knees, shins, feet, lower back. All of which are susceptible to impact injuries even if not over weight.
See this Beginner Running Plan that will slowly take you from walking to running.
STUART FISCHER, M.D., a graduate of Yale University, completed his residency at Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn, and served as an Attending Physician at Cabrini Medical Center in New York City. He also worked with the late Dr. Robert Atkins as the Associate Medical Director of the Atkins Center. His expertise in alternative medicine, nutrition, and weight loss, is complemented by his strong traditional, hospital-based education. He is the author of The Little Book of Big Medical Emergencies and The Park Avenue Diet.