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Importance of good running form

Emily Donker
Article by: Emily Donker (intraining podiatrist, coach and runner)

Running form – Why is it important?

Everyone can benefit significantly from learning more and practicing good running form. Developing good running technique encourages better motor patterning and muscle recruitment. This will help improve your running efficiency and reduce the risk of fatigue including overuse injuries – particularly with longer and more frequent running.

However, there are very few situations in which you should actually try to change your running technique. Everyone runs differently, and should run differently because of their body structure (amongst other factors).

So… you might ask, why would I participate in a running form workshop?

Learning about good running form, and practicing various different running drills and techniques will provide you with an understanding of the factors that contribute towards good form. Although you might not change your technique per say, you can learn and implement relevant changes to improve your running form and longevity.


intraining Running Form Workshop

Running form can be complicated, but it doesn’t need to be.

Three key concepts of good running form:

  1. Body position/posture
  2. Foot strike position
  3. Cadence

Gaining a better understanding of the natural variation in these concepts and how you can make changes (if you need to), provides the basis for our intraining Running Form Workshops.

The three concepts are closely linked, and influence one another. If you can learn good body position, you are much more likely to develop a good foot strike position and cadence.

plyometrics drill
Running drills: Form part intraining Running Form Workshops

Body position and posture

Running drills are great for learning and developing specific simple muscle activation and teaching good running posture. They will help you to feel how you are running and how your limbs and body are moving through space. The progression of drills teaches good body position and posture, co-ordination, strength and power.

“Over time, through learning and practicing specific drills, you will gain a much better sense of your own running technique and any form faults that may develop as you fatigue.”

Good foot strike position

Developing a good foot strike position is all about where you strike the ground in relation to your body’s centre of mass (COM). Regardless of whether you strike on the heel, midfoot or forefoot, your foot should strike the ground underneath the body. Landing infront of your COM is known as overstriding, and is a common form fault. It creates braking forces which slow you down and significantly increase the amount of force transmitted through your joints – thus also increasing injury risk. Having a loud foot strike can indicate overstriding, but may also be linked to other issues.

Running cadence

Ideal cadence (stride frequency) is different for everyone and is strongly determined by the length of your limbs, but is also affected by other factors. Essentially your cadence should remain relatively constant regardless of what pace you’re running. Your stride length should be the factor that changes, and will be longer for faster running compared to slower running if the same cadence is maintained. A common fault amongst runners is to maintain stride length, and decrease (slow down) cadence as they fatigue. This increases the likelihood of overstriding and developing injury.

Generally, your running form is much better when running fast compared to running slowly. This is not to say that slower runners have worse running form – just that for your given ability, your technique is likely to be best when running at tempo pace (approx. 10km race pace) compared to your long run or easy pace. Running slower increases ground reaction time, and decreases your ability to generate power from tension within the tendons (eg. Achilles). This is why it can be better in some cases to run faster when returning from injury, but you need to be cautious with load.

Group Running Form1
Correct posture, foot strike and cadence can reap benefits in improvement in your running speed and injury prevention.

Running form and fatique

Running form also tends to worsen with fatigue. Being aware of how you run, and the form faults that you tend to develop as you tire is very beneficial, because you will learn to identify and feel when you are not running ‘properly’. You can also learn simple cues to help address these form faults whilst out running. Learning about running form and practicing running drills is a great way to find out which drills resonate most strongly with you, and which help you to develop cues to assist with maintaining your own running form.

intraining Running Form Workshop

Everyone is different

There are many different theories proposed about what is ‘ideal running form’ and the ‘best way to run’, but as stated, there is no one way to run that will suit everyone. It’s important to discuss and learn about running form with experienced professionals, with knowledge of running biomechanics, and also of potential structural issues that may prevent certain movements from being possible. The intraining Running Form Workshops are run by a team of podiatrists, who are all runners themselves. They bring a lot of experience in dealing with running-specific injuries, and teaching running form.

intraining Rehab logoBy participating in the intraining Running Form Workshop you will improve your knowledge of the three main concepts of good running form and learn specific running drills, which will provide you with a better understanding of your own running form and form faults, and help you to develop the confidence and skills to adjust your form on the run for more efficient and enjoyable running.

The coaching and clinical team conduct running form workshops throughout the year that can help you improve your running form.

The next intraining Running Form Workshop is coming up soon.

Click here for more information.