Fitness Articles

How to Run with Proper Form and Technique

Find Your Stride with Our Running Guide

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Running may be challenging, but it is an activity humans were designed to do—and it's something nearly everyone can enjoy if we allow time and patience for our bodies to adapt to the demands of the sport. But that doesn't mean that proper running form will come naturally for you.

If you were to watch 10 different people run, you would notice that each one has a distinctive style. There is not one "correct" way to run. You should run the way that is most comfortable and efficient for you. However, you can still fine-tune your running technique, whether you're an experienced runner or a walker who is ready to jump into running. Every runner should understand the basics like proper breathing, posture and foot strike. With proper form, you can help improve your performance and decrease your risk of running ailments and injuries.

Proper Running Posture
Just as you should maintain good posture when standing or sitting, maintaining a relaxed, upright posture while running is essential. Good posture will help release tension and reduce strain in the neck and shoulders, which can prevent muscle fatigue. The idea is to run in a relaxed manner with as little tension as possible. Follow these four proper posture principles to do just that.
  1. Hold your head high, centered between your shoulders, and your back straight. Imagine your body is hanging from a string that is attached to the top of your head. Do not lean your head too far forward; this can lead to fatigue and tightness in the neck, as well as the shoulders, back and even your hamstrings. While a backward lean is not as common, doing so puts greater tension on your back and legs, so avoid that, too.
  2. Focus your gaze approximately 30-40 yards in front of you. Looking down when running can lead to greater strain on the neck muscles and spine, which can lead to fatigue especially in the latter part of your run.
  3. Relax your jaw and neck. Holding too much tension in your face and neck can lead to tension in other parts of your body, making for an inefficient (and tiring) run.
  4. Keep your shoulders relaxed and parallel to the ground. Do not pull your shoulder blades together as this increases shoulder tension. Your shoulders should hang loosely with a slight forward roll for optimal relaxation. If your shoulders rise toward your ears or tense up during your run, drop your arms and loosely shake them out. Do this several times during your run. Continued ›
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About The Author

Nancy Howard Nancy Howard
Nancy is an avid runner and health enthusiast. A retired pediatric nurse, she received her bachelor's degree in nursing from Texas Woman's University and is also a certified running coach and ACE-certified personal trainer.

Member Comments

  • MRCMDT
    Thanks for the info - 8/22/2014 4:13:55 PM
  • Thanks for sharing - 11/15/2013 7:37:00 AM
  • I don't like running that much. I like to walk. - 7/20/2013 8:49:29 PM
  • No, she actually said quite clearly that heel strike is bad, bad bad -- read it again! That horrible picture (about which I completely agree) probably influenced what you thought you read.

    I really like this article overall, I just wish the really important stuff as regards injury (stride and foot strike) had been put up front where people prone to "tl;dr" would be sure to see it. - 3/25/2013 9:10:18 PM
  • SNYDERSOFVLORA
    you start the article with a picture of bad form, then in the article you say heel strike is OK- WOW- yes heel strike is great running form for other people to use if you are an orthpedic surgeon! - 3/5/2013 4:05:19 AM
  • Switching from a heel strike to a mid-foot strike was awkward at first but holy moley what a difference!! Knee pain? COMPLETELY GONE! Not only that but I have more power and am able to run much faster now. Granted, my calf muscles were in agony for the first 4 days because they were not used to that motion but they recover quickly and did I mention, NO MORE KNEE PAIN!!!!!
    I am through my first 5 (of 8) weeks of Zombies, Run 5K training and for the first time I have some hope that I'll actually be able to run the entire 5K by the time I finish the series!! - 2/20/2013 11:12:53 AM
  • "This occurs when you land lightly on the outside ball of the foot then quickly roll to the heel only to push off with your big toe."

    Does this mean you land mid-strike, roll your foot backward, then roll it forward again? Ain't nobody got time for that!!! - 2/5/2013 10:14:13 AM
  • Why does the accompanying picture demonstrate bad running mechanics such as over striding, heel first foot strike and the centre of mass behind the foot strike with the knee locked? - 1/13/2013 7:30:41 AM
  • BEAUTIFULSOUL71
    This is a very informative article.. Thank you for sharing. When I run or walk my feet don't always seem to come off the ground. I'm not sure the correct term for this.. But ik it's not good for my walk or jog. - 10/3/2012 2:00:21 PM
  • I am so glad to hear there was a way to get rid of the side stitches. I thought it was just something I had to deal with until I became more fit. Same for the neck pain. Excited to try these techniques out tonight on my run! - 9/20/2012 1:51:05 PM
  • RYAN092409
    I have to say that I am new to running and literally just started a week ago I ran 1.5 miles everyday for 5 days and was exhausted and breathing to hard that my throat would hurt. I started reading some articles and found that everything this article has in on different sites. So I slouched, had a long stride, and was chest breathing. On the sixth day I tryed all of these. I ran with my back straight and head up, this helped me with to belly breath. I also shortened my stride a bit. I went from 1.5 miles one day to 2.7 miles the next. I could have kept going but i was tired from a long day at work. This truly does help for the beginners. I used to get discuraged and quit running after a week due to lack of results but I am now excited to go for a run. - 8/7/2012 1:54:45 PM
  • Before I had read this article I would walk/jog/run while breathing in through my nose and out through my mouth. I would always get those side stitches so I will definitely practice the belly breathing. It'll be a challenge trying to focus on that while running but to not have those side stitches would be wonderful they always hold me back from continuing. I've also been having trouble with what exactly my foot strike should be I was running on the balls of my feet is that bad form though I'm still kind of confused by that. Great and very informative article though thanks a bunch!! - 8/2/2012 3:25:38 PM
  • Great article. Getting the form right is a challenge but, adjusting the swing of my arms has helped. I will try fixing the face :) - 7/19/2012 4:38:59 PM
  • Without meaning to sound disrespectful, I 'd be happy to just be able to RUN again
    :( - 5/29/2012 9:07:38 PM
  • Thanks for the great read, Nancy. This is the second time I've read it and will continue to do so as a refresher in my journey. I've learned a lot from your contributions and guidance. All the best....Monty - 5/17/2012 9:12:58 AM
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