WHY GOOD RUNNING TECHNIQUE?
Correct technique eliminates unnecessary movement and wasted motion. In other words, runners want as
much of their available energy as possible to produce straight ahead and movement as opposed to side-to-
When we walk, one foot is always on the ground and our forward foot hits the ground with a force equal to
approximately half our body weight.
When we run, this force is much greater. There is a phase when both feet are off the ground. During
running, the foot strikes the surface with a force greater than three times our bodyweight. A combination
of correct running technique and appropriate running equipment helps to reduce these landing forces and
therefore, the stress on our bones and muscles. These factors minimize the chance of injury.
WHAT IS CORRECT RUNNING TECHNIQUE?
They simple key to effective and quality running is to run tall, feel light and be relaxed. Consider the
Your head should be upright with eyes focused forward to a point on the ground about
10-20 yards away or at your target
Your shoulders should be square and level. Do not slouch or fold in your shoulders or
swing them forwards or backwards
Your arms should swing freely in a generally forwards and backwards (like a tight
Arms figure-eight), not a circle or a straight line. Your elbows should be bent approximately
90 degrees with forearms remaining roughly parallel to the ground
Hands Hands can be open or in a relaxed fist with the thumb resting on the forefinger
Your torso should be upright with chest up and plenty of room for the diaphragm to
move for proper breathing actions. Do not lean forwards, backwards or slouch as these
postures place heavy stress on the lower back and interfere with proper running
mechanics. This can also produce lower back injury
Hips Your hips should be square and level with no sideways movement
Your leg action should be relaxed with straight back and forth movements and moderate
Feet Your feet should be pointed straight ahead and land directly under your hips
THERE IS A FINE LINE BETWEEN OVERSTRIDING AND UNDERSTRIDING. IF STRIDE LENGTH IS TOO GREAT AND YOUR FOOT
LANDS IN FRONT OF YOUR CENTER OF GRAVITY IT WILL CAUSE YOU TO BRAKE.
IF YOUR STRIDE LENGTH IS TOO SHORT YOUR STRIDE FREQUENCY WILL BE HIGH BUT YOU WON'T COVER MUCH GROUND.
NOT THE MOST EFFICIENT USE OF YOUR ENERGY!
THE SPRINTING TECHNIQUE DRILLS BELOW WILL HELP DEVELOP EXCELLENT FORM. THE NUMBER OF TIMES YOU
PRACTISE THESE DRILLS DEPENDS ON YOUR SITUATION. SPRINT ATHLETES WILL OBVIOUSLY DEDICATE MORE TRAINING
TIME TO IMPROVING SPRINTING TECHNIQUE THAN FOOTBALL PLAYERS FOR EXAMPLE.
PERFORM THE DRILLS IMMEDIATELY AFTER YOUR WARM UP OR ON A REST DAY. THEY ARE NOT DESIGNED TO FATIGUE
YOU OR PROVIDE A TRAINING OVERLOAD. MAKE SURE YOU ARE FRESH WHEN YOU PERFORM THESE SPRINTING
TECHNIQUE DRILLS. QUALITY IS EVERYTHING!
TECHNIQUE SUGGESTIONS FOR THE SIX MAJOR AREAS OF SPRINTING MECHANICS
No two athletes run exactly the same; however sprinting mechanics should remain the same for all athletes.
If the athlete runs with tense arms, have them practice loose, swinging movements from a standing
position. Remember to have them swing from the shoulder and keep the arms relaxed at all times. Although
the arms work in opposite direction to the legs they must be coordinated with the action of the legs for
maximum sprinting efficiency.
The athlete�s body should have a slight forward lean. It is important to note that the angle of lean comes
from the ground and not from the waist. The lean is caused by displacing the athlete�s center of gravity in
the direction they are running and leaning and bending from the waist will interfere with the correct
mechanics of sprinting.
Do not run on your toes. The toes offer no power or stability to the runner and if they run on their toes,
they will not be able to run fast. Instead, have them stay on the balls of their feet and push against the
ground but don�t reach and pull toward the ground. This strategy will result in injuries and poor sprinting
mechanics and slow times.
This is the worst and most often misunderstood element of sprinting. Don�t have them reach and
overstride to increase stride length, but rather have them push against the ground and let the foot land
underneath the center of gravity. Any placement of the foot in front of the center of gravity will cause
"breaking forces" that will result in the body slowing down.
Try to prevent being too quick because too much turnover will cause the athlete to run fast in one place and
not much ground will be covered. Remember that quality sprint speed is a combination of stride length and
stride frequency and one does not replace the other.
Don�t try to power through a race or sprint effort. To run fast, stay relaxed as running tight will result in
Most runners don't run with correct form. Traditionally, we assume that as long as we do our prescribed
training, we don't have to pay attention to running form?
Many top runners now include in their workouts: hopping, skipping and other bounding drills to improve
There's a good and bad way to run and many athletes have poor mechanics which slows them down, uses
energy against itself and doesn't show improvement relative to the training.
In the good way to run, the body is in alignment. Keep your head high and focus your gaze straight in front
of you, and not downward. Your arms and legs should move entirely in a forward motion with no wasteful
sideways slack. In the bad way, precious time is lost as your form is inefficient (like a car in need of a
tune-up), and you don't run up to your potential.
Position yourself behind a straight line such as a marker on a track and stand the way you normally do.
Chances are, one or both of your feet will point outward. That shows that your feet point outward when you
run, too. Now, rock on your heels and bring your toes forward so they point straight ahead. You should
gain 1 to 4 inches on the ground simply by straightening your toes in that standing position.
Translate that gain to your running stride emphasizing that stride length is a key factor in running speed. If
you gain only 1 inch per stride, do you know what that would mean for a 50 yard dash.
It would be a gain of roughly 1/4 of a second. Four inches per stride would gain you a full second.
To understand the concept of alignment, imagine yourself pedaling a bicycle. The feet and legs move as
one smooth unit. While running, your arms and hands should also be part of that unit. You run not only
with your legs but with your upper body which has a bearing on direction. If you run with your elbows
flared, causing the arms to swing across the body, that is a big time-waster. Your arms should move up and
back (with elbows bent) not side to side.
To get rid of these "chicken wings" and other lapses in form try some of the Plyometric drills:
While jogging slowly in place, move your arms forward and back as though you were running at race pace.
Keep your elbows close to your body. Your hands should be relaxed, with thumbs up and resting
comfortably on your index fingers. (Never run with clenched fists; it only tightens you up.)
Do this with a partner who's jogging forward very slowly. Position yourself behind your partner with both
your hands on his shoulders and jog forward slowly yourself. As you move forward, exaggerate your
running motion so that you: (a) bring your front leg up until the upper leg is perpendicular to the ground,
and (b) kick your trailing leg backward far enough for your foot to just touch your buttocks. Work on both
legs. Emphasize the push-off of your foot. The idea is to shorten the angle between your upper and lower
leg. The shorter the angle, the faster you'll run.
Run at an average pace with a slight forward lean, bringing your heels all the way to your buttocks so your
knees are high. Keep your hips forward so they're in front of your feet when you push off the ground. Don't
extend your leg; again, work on the push-off. If you don't keep your hips forward, you'll look as if you're
"sitting in a saddle."
Same as High Knee except this is done at top speed. Whenever you feel your form breaking down, slow
your pace. Try for a distance of roughly 50 meters.
Heel to Glute
"Glute" refers to the gluteus maximus, one of the muscles in your rear. Running slowly, move down the
track, kicking your heel up so it just about touches the glute with each stride. Work on coordinating arms
and legs in a rhythmic motion, placing the heel in the middle of your glute and keeping the heel straight.
This motion we learned as children helps teach body balance and rhythm. As you skip, push forward with
your arm, keeping your elbow locked. Make sure your hips stay in front of the support leg, and your knees
are high. Get good height.
Skip for distance, not height, by extending both arms forward on each skip.
Athletes should work with coaches and teammates on these drills. When you start, tackle a couple of drills
at a time and do four to six repetitions. Eventually, you can do all the drills but do only a couple of reps of
each. Do them two or three times a week.
Before doing the drills, do your warmup and stretching plus an acceleration lap around the track in which
you gradually build speed to about 75 percent of maximum at the finish. Then go into your regular
These high-impact movements, known as plyometric training, pose a risk of injury. To minimize the risk
consider the following precautions:
- Start with the exercises you find the easiest.
- Maintain proper technique.
- Use a soft, level surface, such as grass as opposed to concrete.
- Wear supportive training shoes.
- Never add extra weight with a vest or ankle weights.
Drills like these improve running form, increase leg strength and overall power.
FINDING THE RIGHT SHOE
Shoe design technology is highly individualized and there is no one shoe that will fit everyone. The way to
start narrowing down the choices is to start with you: where you run, what type of feet you have, how you
run and your bodyweight.
Type of foot
Take a good look at your feet. Do you have high arches in your feet, are they more flat or are they normal-
arched. One way to tell is to get your bare feet wet and then step on a dry surface, such as concrete and
then look at the imprint.
If you can see the heel, forefoot and a joining band about half the width of your foot then you have a
normal-arched foot. If the joining band is much thinner than half the width of your foot then you have a
high-arched foot. If the band is much larger than half the width of your foot then you are most likely flat-
1. Normal-arched. This type of foot needs a stable shoe with a semi-curved last. (The last is the part of
the shoe that the sole is molded onto.)
2. High-arched. These types of feet need a cushioned shoe with a curved last and a lot of flexibility since
high-arches tend to flex quite a lot. You may want to consider investing in orthotics or performing
exercises in which you pick up a towel by scrunching your bare foot around it as since this foot type is
prone to tearing of small tissue in the foot.)
3. Flat-footed. These feet need 'motion-controlled' shoes which will provide a firm mid-sole because there
is not much arch to do the job of controlling motion.
Type of footstrike
Footstrike is how your foots hit the ground. To determine how your feet strike the ground while running,
examine the bottoms of your current running shoes. If they are more worn on the outsides then you are a
supinator but if they are more worn on the insides then you are a pronator.
• Supinators. If you're a supinator, you roll your foot outward excessively during the support phase
of running (while your foot is on the ground).
• Pronators. Each time a pronator's foot strikes the ground, the arch crushes the inside the mid-sole
of the shoe because the foot rolls inward excessively during the support phase. You need shoes
that feature rearfoot motion control.
Fit and Sizing
When you buy shoes, 'fit' of the shoe is critical as choosing the right shoe for your feet will help prevent
Your shoes should be slightly looser than your everyday or street shoes to allow for expansion as you heat
up while running. You should be able to place your smallest finger between the tip of your shoe and your
toe and there should be a good snug fit around the arch, heel and instep. If you find yourself caught
between two sizes consider the larger one and use insoles or thicker socks. Don't try to go cheap on shoes
and buy look-alikes or knock-offs. Any money saved will probably be spent many times over, later on, for
medical treatment. If you are a heavy runner (known as a "Clydesdales"), you'll need a well-cushioned
shoe regardless of your foot type or striking pattern.
COMMENTS ON RUNNING BACKWARDS
Backward Running (BR) has been used for strength gain and rehabilitation over the past several years but
no studies have investigated BR as it is used in competitive sporting events. For soccer players wanting to
increase their BR speed, it appears that stride length, not stride frequency is the factor in the velocity
equation that needs to be addressed since stride frequency is already significantly greater for BR than front
running FR. Athletes have greater anatomical constraints with respect to the hip, knee and ankle in BR
than FR. It is unknown what BR stride length can be obtained with training. A kinetic analysis of these
conditions may provide further guidance to individuals and coaches wanting to improve BR velocity.