Many people who start out running simply pull on their new running shoes and set off around their local streets or parks. Often, they retire from their fitness regime within a few weeks because their knees start playing up, or their hips or lower back hurt so much both during exercise and afterwards. The problem is that nobody teaches us how to run properly, and most beginners’ injuries are a result of poor technique. Here are a few simple tips which will help you to ward off unnecessary overuse injuries such as shin splints and painful joints.
- Stop Heel Striking – landing on the heel of the front foot is very common among beginners because they stretch their leg forward, locking the knee, when they stride. Unfortunately, the human heel is not cushioned and is designed mainly for balance. So if you only try out one of these running tips for beginners, this is the one to incorporate into your exercise: always aim to land on your forefoot. This allows you to make effective use of your foot’s natural shock absorber in the arch, and also provides some elastic recoil, which will enable you to run faster with less stress on your shins and knees.
- Stop Stretching Your Stride – stretching your front leg out in front of you, and landing your foot ahead of your center of balance is a very bad practice. It forces you to land on your heel and since it is usually accompanied by a locked leg, it creates extra stress for the knee joints. You will also find that running this way can slow you down, because you have to pivot your hip to catch up with the front foot before you can push off into your next stride. This means you are running very inefficiently as well as potentially causing harm. So, shorten your stride length and aim to land your front foot underneath your hip. This will allow you to push off much faster, it will enable you to land on the forefoot rather than the heel, and it will minimize unnecessary shocks to your leg joints.
- Stop Varying Your Turnover Rate – many new runners think that a leisurely jog means a slow turnover rate (also called cadence), while a faster, more competitive run means increasing the number of steps per minute. In truth, you should always aim for 180 steps per minute. Your speed is then controlled by the force you exert on the ground at each toe off. So running for fun should feel as if you are floating along, whereas serious running should leave you with a nice ‘burn’ in your calves, glutes and hip muscles, but your steps per minute should not change. This cadence is ideal for ensuring you maximize the elastic recoil from the springy tendons and muscles in your feet and lower legs, helping you to conserve some of your energy and keep muscle fatigue at bay for longer.
If you can start to include these three beginners’ running tips into your new exercise program, you will find that you can run more efficiently, more rapidly and with less potential for injuries. The only other thing to add is a properly fitting pair of running shoes and you should be safe for your next year of jogging.
- The Pros And Cons Of Barefoot Running (fryingpansports.com)
- Guide To Buying A Fitness Treadmill (weightlossdietforum.com)