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: 19/10/2014

Next review due: 19/10/2016

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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: 29/05/2015

Next review due: 29/05/2018

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