What are the best suggestions for running techniques

10 tips for perfect running technique

We learn to walk as children when we are just under one year old. After that, we circle the earth four times on average in the course of our lives. And yet you haven't reached your desired best time yet or do you get hurt every now and then while jogging? Perhaps you have not yet discovered the right running technique for you. Running coach and sports scientist Lorenz Wolf explains why this is important and how you can train most effectively.

Why is running style so important?

Above all, good running technique ensures that you will not be injured while jogging. In addition, you can also save strength and energy. According to Wolf, this is why it is so important, especially for sprinters. Only athletes who make optimal use of their strength through the right technique could end up on the podium because they run faster. For real long-distance runners, however, running technique is of secondary importance, as it has only minimal effects on the best time. You can also see that in the world's best, where marathon runners with poor technique win the gold medal. The condition is much more important here.

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What running techniques are there?

The large running book by the former long-distance runner and running coach Herbert Steffny distinguishes between three running styles. They depend on your anatomy, the terrain and the run, says sports scientist Wolf: "That's why there is no one right running style," he says. Here you can also find out how healthy running is for you.

Land on the outer edge of the heel with the leg slightly bent a little in front of the center of gravity, roll over the metatarsus and push off again over the ball of the foot. This is how most of us walk when jogging. The energy comes from the thigh, the calf is protected. At the same time, the stress on the bones and joints from the strong impact on the heel is very high, which on the one hand strengthens them, but on the other hand can also lead to injuries.

In this running style, your foot lands flat, close to your body's center of gravity, with the outer edge of your whole foot on the ground. You then roll over this and the forefoot again. As a result, the impact forces are better distributed throughout the body while running and are gentle on tendons, ligaments and joints. Injuries are rare, but the outer edge of the foot, for example, can still be overloaded.

Especially during sprints or uphill runners often land on the ball of the foot and push off with it. The heel and metatarsus remain in the air. Therefore, more and longer steps are possible. The foot comes up under the body's center of gravity and cushions the impact force over the entire foot upon impact. However, the forefoot, the calf muscles and the Achilles tendon are very heavily stressed. Due to the short contact with the ground, runners also need more strength.

How do I find out if I'm running "out of round"?

"Your running is right as long as you don't have any complaints," says running coach Wolf. He therefore urgently advises laypeople against changing their own running style due to the advantages and disadvantages described above. Only when pain occurs, for example in the foot, knee, hip or back, is it a signal that one is walking "out of round". Then a running analysis with a sports doctor or a specially trained physiotherapist makes sense. Another tip from the running expert: "Have a look at your shoes. Do you have one-sided, noticeable wear phenomena?" This can also be a sign that your running style is not optimal. Beginners should definitely pay attention to this when running.

What is a running analysis?

Running analyzes are available in sports shops as well as from sports medicine specialists or specially trained physiotherapists. However, they are very different. In the sports shop, they are less extensive, free and should help you to find the right sports shoe. In the practice or laboratory, on the other hand, the specialist extensively examines how you run and helps you to improve your running style. To do this, you jog on a treadmill while several cameras record your foot movements from the front, back, side and above. At the same time, the expert sticks or paints markers on your skin that help him track your posture during the run. Since such an analysis is quite expensive at around 100 euros, Wolf only recommends it in the event of complaints or specific questions about your own running style.

How do I recognize a professional running analysis?

A professional running analysis should be carried out on a well-lit treadmill with at least two cameras with a frame rate of at least 50 frames per second, advises the expert. After all, the video excerpt of the movement is very short and therefore good video quality is very important for classification. Another quality criterion: The markers for following the posture must absolutely be attached to the skin. So the less clothes you wear, the better. The specialist should conduct a preliminary health consultation with you, measure you beforehand and give you enough time to run in on the treadmill. In the end, he has to make specific suggestions on how you can improve your running style so that the investment pays off for you.

What are the problems of the "wrong" running technique?

Those who go "wrong" are more likely to get injured. This includes knee, hip and back pain, as well as injuries to the ankle, the Achilles tendon or calf muscles. Therefore, as soon as you experience pain while walking, you should definitely see a doctor. In addition, economical running is only possible with the right technology. Means: You need more energy with the "wrong" running technique and you do not use your available forces optimally.

How do you improve your running style?

The basis is the posture while running, claim "The great fitness running book" and an article in the International Journal of Athletic Therapy and Training. You have to pay attention to four points:

1. Posture

When running, keep your head straight and look at the ground about 30 meters in front of you. Basically you walk upright, but lean your upper body slightly forward. You can do this by moving your shoulders back slightly and your chest forwards. But still stay relaxed and do not cramp, because the main work is done by your legs and the correct posture usually comes automatically.

2. Stride length / cadence

Shorter, faster successive steps, in which the feet come close to each other and below the body's center of gravity, are good. They should reduce the risk of injury and make the run more economical. Nevertheless, the step length and frequency always depend on your personal physique. Always raise the knee only as much as necessary and avoid putting your foot on the floor with the knee extended. This will protect your bones and joints.

3. Foot guide

When stepping on, you should ideally land on your whole foot and roll over your forefoot. The big toe gives the last power boost. Above all, a strong step with a strong impression helps when running, according to the expert.

4. Arm swing

While jogging, swing your arms from your hips to your nipples in the opposite direction to your steps. You should not be bent more than 90 degrees at the elbow. This compensates for body movement and shifting the body's center of gravity while running. Hold your hand loosely and place your thumbs on the index fingers. This helps to relax your body.

How do you train running properly?

But even the best posture won't help without training. Many athletes rely on the running ABC to train leg and foot strength. These are regular exercises designed to improve your running style. This includes skippings, heels, knee raises, hops and backwards runs as well as climbing runs. The shorter the distance, the more important these exercises are, says running coach Wolf. In order to improve running economy in the long term, the Wolf expert relies on the following 4 tips:

1. Collect many years of service

What sounds like a truism is very important. "You only learn to walk by running," says Wolf. But don't worry: you don't have to wait long to see the first improvements. Because runners make rapid progress especially at the beginning.

2. Short sprints in continuous running

After running in, the running expert recommends adding short sprints to the endurance run from time to time. 50 meters are enough for that. For example, from one street lamp to the next. If you can breathe again after a few minutes, you can repeat these short sprints.

3. Hill sprints

Short uphill sprints lead to more leg strength and faster steps. The steeper the hill, the better, says Wolf. Again, a maximum of 30 seconds and five to ten repetitions are sufficient.

4. Weight training

Finally, the running coach recommends strength training. Olympic lifts (lifting weights), lunges (lunges) and box step-ups (climbing onto a box) are particularly helpful.

How do I increase my cadence?

On average, runners take around 170 steps per minute. You can track how many steps you take while jogging with the Apple Watch Series 6 or the Forerunner 245 GPS running watch from Garmin, for example. To increase the step frequency, Wolf relies on hill sprints. Alternatively, during the speed training or as a short increase after the endurance run, you can consciously try to take many short instead of long steps. The advantage: You regain control of your running style and rhythm.

How do I improve my endurance?

However, your stamina is even more important than the running technique for the new best time. You actually train them every time you run. The short sprints and hill sprints during the endurance run also help here. "Try to stay motivated during training and to have discipline for the rest days," recommends the expert to both beginners and advanced runners. In this way you improve your running style and at the same time protect yourself from overload.

There is no single "correct" running technique. How you run depends on your physique, distance and speed. If you experience pain while jogging, see a doctor. Otherwise, correct posture and regular training will help you run more efficiently.

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