Running is an extremely challenging exercise, but it can also be enjoyable if you know how to do it properly. What most people get wrong while running is the posture. Correcting your posture can help you reach your running goals more comfortably and easily. So whether you are running a marathon or jogging simply to keep fit, we have some important tips for you. The Week spoke to Kumar Thapa, fitness instructor at Next Step Fitness and Training Center in Lazimpat, Kathmandu, who gave some important information about improving your performance with proper posture while running.
According to Thapa, there is no ‘correct running posture’ but there are certain ways through which you can make running much more comfortable. Knowing how to run properly can also prevent a lot of injuries and bodily cramps.
When you are running, it is important to make sure that your chin is neither too down nor too far up. “When you raise your chin up, you will feel the tension on your neck, which may cause further injuries. So make sure that you level your chin to a mid point where you feel comfortable,” says Thapa.
Another thing to keep in mind while running is that your shoulders tend to go up especially when you are on a long run. That is when you start feeling tension on your neck. So it is important to relax your shoulders and neck while running. Tightening up your shoulders may affect your chest and restrict proper breathing.
Arms by your side
Your arms need to hold your elbows at about a 90-degree angle while running. Also make sure that your fist is not too tight. Your fingers should just slightly touch the palm of your hand. “Think that you are holding an egg in your fist and you don’t want to break it,” says Thapa.
When you start feeling a kind of tension building up during your run, relax your body by shaking your arms a little bit and loosening up your shoulders.
If you have the habit of swinging your arms while running, then make sure you swing your arms forward and not across the midline of your body. Also, your arms should swing from your shoulder joint and not your elbow joint.
When you are moving, do not lean forward from your waist. Make sure you lean forward from your ankles gradually to your upper body. Hold your torso straight up and engage your core muscles to get the maximum benefit out of your run.
When your feet land on the ground, make sure it is your mid foot or the balls of your feet that touch the ground first. Landing on your heels means that you are landing too ahead of your body. This can cause tension on your ankles, knees and hips. And, over time, this practice can also cause discomfort and irreversible joint injuries as well. So try to make your foot land right underneath your body weight.
Check your body sometimes while running and notice where you are applying the most amount of pressure. The key to running properly is trying to relax and at the same time having fun with your body.
Each runner needs to discover a breathing technique that suits him/her the most. Whatever technique one may use, it’s important to make sure that your breathing is relaxed and deep.
“You need to make a conscious effort to ensure you are deep breathing which is ideal for running. Quick and shallow breathing is not sufficient especially when our body is demanding more oxygen due to intense exercise,” says Thapa.
Uphill and downhill technique
“You may not find good plain land for running in most parts of our country so it is important to learn the uphill running techniques as well,” says Thapa. Running uphill will help you burn more calories and also sends more oxygen to your lungs.
While beginning to run uphill, try starting with a relatively slower pace. One must also shorten their stride while shortening their stride rate. Pumping the hands at a faster rate also makes an uphill run easier. The steeper the hill the more hand movement is required to drive you upwards.
Running downhill is obviously slightly different from running uphill. In this case, you might have the temptation to lean back but it is extremely imperative for you to lean forward on your ankles while running downhill. Also, do not use your arms to increase the speed but rather use them as a tool to maintain the balance and rhythm of your body.
Important things to keep in mind
It is very important to select the right running shoes before performing any kind of running exercise. Improper shoes can cause corns, lead to ingrown toenails as well as many other injuries. Also, shoes like converse are made for walking and doing casual day-to-day activities. These shoes are heavy and do not provide much heel support because of their thin and flat sole. Running shoes with little sole support can cause a lot of foot, knee and hip injuries.
You should always carry a bottle of water and sip small amounts of water throughout your run. This will keep you hydrated.
Have a light snack (either a banana or two pieces of biscuits) before you head out on your run. After the exercise, consume a nutritious and healthy meal.
While running, start on a slow pace and then slowly increase your speed. Warm up and cool down exercises are extremely important before and after running.