In the last blog, I discussed the key aspects of optimal running form, especially in relation to body position, feet, arm swing, hip extension, and rhythm or cadence. In this post, I will share simple cues that you can use in order to help improve your running form in these areas. It is best to focus on only one or two of these at a time, for a few weeks, until they start becoming automatic, and then you can move on to another cue. Also, I recommend focusing on this cue for 10-20 seconds every 5-10 minutes, otherwise you will most likely be mentally exhausted at the end of your run, especially a long run! Another possibility is to focus on a cue while you are performing strides. If you are not familiar with strides click here to learn what they are and how they are beneficial.
So, here are a few cues to help you optimize your running form:
- “Run tall”
- Helps you engage your core, thus improving running posture, and also helps with hip extension, so that you can generate more power during your stride
- “Imagine someone in front of you grabbing you by your shirt and lifting you up at the chest”
- Similar to “Run tall” in that it forces you to engage the core
- I like this cue better because it can also help with forward lean and helps prevent overstriding
- “Extend the hips”
- Focus on extending the hips when the knee is at its highest point until impact with the ground
- Increases power, and thus speed, as the glutes are activated, and will create a recoil or rebound force with the ground, thus generating passive energy to propel you forward– hip extension, increases power of stride and thus speed
- “Watch the horizon and try to limit it to a slight bounce”
- Helps you create the right angle to propel yourself forward, so you are not moving too vertical or too horizontal
- Helps you avoid contacting the ground too long and being too bouncy (up-and-down) with your stride
- Stimulates arm swing, which facilitates coordination between the arm and opposite leg
- Helps improve cadence and thus, running speed
- “Think of knees as headlights that you shine straight ahead”
- Helps engage and open hips to minimize risk of several common injuries including plantar fasciitis, IT band syndrome, patellofemoral syndrome (knee pain), which results from inward collapse of hips, knees, and ankles
- “Put your foot down underneath you”
- Helps prevents overstriding
- “Leave the ankle/foot alone”
- Helps minimize the loss of energy caused when activating the muscles of the lower leg and hamstrings
- Activating these muscles can increase risk of injury
- “Lean from the ankles”
- Helps facilitate appropriate forward lean, which can improve speed
The key is to make gradual changes and to prepare for alterations in form by conditioning the body, which will be discussed in future posts.
I offer running evaluations to assess running form and can help you identify the cues that would be most beneficial to improve your running form.
Please let me know if you have any questions, or if I can be of help in any way.
Your friend and coach,
Cindy Kuzma. “Hips”. Sports Medicine Clinic, Boulder, CO, February 2015.
Road Runners Club of America Certification boulder, CO, May 2013.
Steve Magness. Science of Running. Origin Press, 2014.