Whether you’re running on a treadmill, or running through the park, running is not only a great way to improve your physical health, it’s also one of the most effective cardiovascular workouts you can do in a short amount of time. But, although running hard is good, running smart is better. By focusing on some small improvements to your running style, as well as your running form, you can save energy, avoid injury, and maximize your workouts!
Keep your abdominal muscles tight! Your body’s core, which are made up of your abdominal muscles, are what keep you standing upright. While running, contract your abs so that you maintain good form (i.e. keep your chest up, and your shoulders over your hips). But, this doesn’t mean you flex them continuously while running. Instead, warm them up by doing some jump squats prior to your run. That will help tighten your abs up to prepare for your run, while also stretching your legs to warm them up as well.
Keep your stride length shorter – your feet should land beneath your hips. If you’re “reaching” with your legs while running, you’re running the risk of injury – both from muscle strain, as well as unnecessary pounding by hitting the ground harder during your stride.
As soon as your feet leave the ground, make your toes point toward your shins, and land on the balls of your feet. Running injuries are made worse when your heel strikes the ground, as that basically acts as a brake, slowing you down and creating stress. Flexing your toes so your feel “roll” when they hit the ground not only conserves energy, it decreases the striking force your feet & knees will feel.
Keep your shoulders back, and your shoulder blades pulled down toward your back pockets. And, let your arms move from your shoulders as you run- this saves energy and helps keep you aligned properly, avoiding injury.
Keep your hands lightly cupped. Many runners “make a fist” – all this does is create tension in your forearms and shoulders. So, this means – don’t carry a water bottle or your iPod in your hands. Instead, get an inexpensive armband holder for your iPod, get a cheap hip belt for your water bottle, or put them on your treadmill’s console (like the one on the True Fitness ES9.0) – and run empty handed. This helps to keep your torso from rotating while running, as keeping your form straight allows you to conserve energy, and avoid shoulder stress.
One way to learn the best way for your feet to hit the ground properly is to…run barefoot! Running barefoot teaches you how to strike the ground more naturally, with force transferred more evenly throughout your body. Start out once a week on a soft surface like grass or sand, alternately jogging and running in 1 minute intervals for up to 30 minutes.
And, if running outside in Arizona heat barefoot sounds a bit too hot – and painful – instead, try running on a treadmill from Fitness 4 Home Superstore! With treadmills that feature cushioned decks, and consoles with built in workout programs – you can maximize your workouts from the comfort of your home! Contact Fitness 4 Home Superstore to learn more about our treadmills!