How to run correctly

Running should be as easy as putting one foot in front of the other, right? Anyone can run, but having proper technique can make a huge difference.

Good running technique will help make your runs feel less tiring, reduce your risk of injury and ultimately be more enjoyable.

Mitchell Phillips, director of running experts StrideUK, shares his basic tips to help you run relaxed and efficiently.

Keep your head straight

Look straight ahead of you, about 30 to 40 metres out in front, and avoid looking down at your feet. Looking down will create tension in your neck and shoulders. Keep your jaw and neck relaxed.

Don't hunch your shoulders

Your shoulders should be back and down. Keep them relaxed and avoid tensing them. Don't hunch over as this restricts breathing, allowing less oxygen to get to the muscles.

Keep your hands relaxed

Your hands should be relaxed, but don’t let them flop. Tight hands can cause tension all the way up to the back and shoulders.

Keep your arms at 90 degrees

Your arms should be bent at a 90-degree angle. Try to swing them forward and back, not across your body. The arm movement helps to propel you forward, so swinging them sideways is a waste of energy.

Lean forward while running

Don’t bend forward or backward from the waist as this places pressure on the hips. Some experts advise running in an upright position, but Phillips believes using your body weight to lean forward a bit while running can reduce heel strike and help you land on the middle of your foot.

Keep your hips stable

Your hips should remain stable and forward-facing. Don’t stick your bottom out or rock your hips from side to side. Keeping this position in your hips can help prevent low back and hip pain.

Don't lift your knees too high

Land with a slight bend in the knee. This helps to absorb the impact of running on hard surfaces. Don’t lift your knees too high and avoid bouncing up and down. Your knees should be lifting forwards rather than upwards.

Aim for a mid-foot strike

Landing on the middle of your foot is the safest way to land for most recreational runners. Avoid striking the ground with your heel or your forefoot first. Your foot should land below your hips – not out in front of you.

Don't strike the ground heavily

Aim for short light steps. Good running is light and quiet. Whatever your weight, your feet should not slap loudly as they hit the ground. Light steps are more efficient and cause less stress to the body.

Breathe deeply and rhythmically

Whether you breathe through your nose or mouth, try to breathe deeply and rhythmically. Avoid shallow and quick breaths. Try to aim for one breath for every two strides, but don’t be afraid to try longer breathing.

Page last reviewed: 19/10/2012

Next review due: 19/10/2014

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Comments

The 4 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Avie said on 06 September 2014

I'm not a runner but decided to do this as a challenge for myself and then to encourage others to do the same. I was enjoying it until I got to day 3 of week 5 when we had to run for 20 minutes! The end of week 6 was also difficult and week 7 very hard. I feel there's too big a jump in the amount of minutes you have to run and wonder could the plan be re-considered? In week 2, take out that "hint" about heel strike as it will lead to painful shin splints and I also feel Laura should remind us more about breathing (got a stitch), tell us more often how many minutes we've done and finally remind us to stretch at the end. Overall I am very pleased with myself and thank you for C2 5k.

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KERunner said on 27 July 2014

As in the comment below I am also in extreme pain following the 'tip' to run with heel striking ground first given on Week 2 Day 1! Please remove the 'tip' as it is misleading.

I have literally had to stay off my feet all weekend due to excruciating pain in my right heel. Before that I was doing fine just using my natural running gait. Not pleased at all with this advice! I imagine many others are suffering similarly.

I'm going on holiday to France in a week's time - and will be very fed up indeed if I can't walk anywhere!

Please act on this comment.

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Shukor said on 18 December 2013

Hi User86573,

Opinions vary on this point. I think the safest advice is to run in a way that feels natural and comfortable to you. That said, the consensus in the running community is that a mid-foot strike is the safest way to land for most recreational runners.

Thanks for getting in touch,
Steven

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User86573 said on 19 November 2013

Flowing your app on apple C25K & on Week 2 day 1 for a tip, states to run landing on your heel first, not ball or side of foot as could cause injury?! Is this correct as NHS website & other sites state to land ball of foot first?! & never heel as high case of injury?!
I've been following this as not a runner & was in tears tonight following making sure ran with heel landing first?!
Please clarify.

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How's your running?

This video demonstrates running techniques and posture to improve efficiency and reduce risk of injury.

Media last reviewed: 16/08/2013

Next review due: 16/08/2015

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