Proper Running & Jogging Techniques

Running and jogging can place impact and strain on your joints -- particularly if you are practicing improper form while engaging in either activity. Signs you may not be practicing proper form include pain in the knees, hips or back after running or soreness in the heel. By taking steps to correct your running form, you may find you run faster and with less pain.

A woman jogging on a trail. (Image: Thomas Northcut/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Common Mistakes

Runners make common form errors that can lead to increased injury risk and pain, according to Mike Antoniades, a speed and conditioning coach interviewed for BBC Sport. Some of Antoniades common mistakes include putting too much bounce into your run, taking strides that are too large, landing too hard on your feet or failure to use your arms to propel you forward. Other common technique problems include jogging at a slower pace than when walking or twisting excessively from side to side. If possible, observe yourself running in a mirror. If you observe these technique errors, take steps to correct them.

Foot Strikes

How your foot strikes the ground when running or jogging can affect proper running form. Start by concentrating on how the foot lands. The ball of your foot should hit the ground while the toes are pointing slightly downward -- not parallel to the ground. The foot should land lightly and then start to move backward toward your heel. Imagine your foot is gently scraping the surface instead of firmly planting on it. Your heel should not fully touch the ground. If it does, you may be running too slowly. Imagine that your legs are on an imaginary cycle -- much like an elliptical machine -- and you must keep the rhythm.

Back, Hips and Legs

Your hips and legs – especially your powerful quadriceps – help propel you forward. You should not experience a lot of side to side hip or waist movement. This prevents you from twisting the back. Keep the back straight and relaxed and while you may naturally lean slightly forward, to avoid lower back pain do not hinge forward too far at the waist.

Chest, Arms, Head and Shoulders

The final parts of proper running form are your chest, arms, head and shoulders. If you keep the back relaxed, this will help relax the shoulders as well. Bend your arms at your elbows, moving the arms comfortably from the shoulders. You can hold your palms in, and if you prefer to make a fist, refrain from letting the fist tighten -- this can affect your breathing. Your head should rest over your neck with your eyes looking forward -- not down on the ground.

Breathing

Breathing through your mouth and allowing your diaphragm to lift and retract for deep "belly breathing" will enhance your endurance. The bonus of diaphragmatic breathing is, that when you exhale, your abs contract and give your mid-section a little isometric workout. If erratic breathing is your bugaboo, then practice breathing patterns. Inhale as you take two steps and exhale for the next two. Depending on your lung capacity, you may be able to stretch those inhalations and exhalations over more than two steps.

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