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Running Longevity: Mastering Efficient Run Form

By Dr. Emily Schilling

Running is a universal form of exercise that not only promotes physical health but also contributes significantly to mental well-being. Whether you're a seasoned marathoner or a novice jogger, the importance of proper run form and technique cannot be overstated. In this blog, we'll delve into the key aspects of mastering the art of running and how form/technique play a pivotal role in enhancing performance and preventing injuries.

To begin, one of the primary benefits of maintaining proper run form is improved efficiency - leading to enhanced overall performance. Efficient running involves minimizing unnecessary movements and energy wastage. A runner with a smooth and controlled form will cover more ground with less effort, ultimately increasing their speed and endurance.

Next, injuries are a runner's nemesis, often sidelining even the most dedicated athletes. Correct run form is a powerful ally in the battle against injuries. When your body moves in a biomechanically efficient manner, the risk of overuse injuries and muscle imbalances is significantly reduced. Common injuries associated with poor run form include:

1. Shin Splints: Caused by overloading the muscles in the shin, often due to improper foot placement and excessive impact.

2. Runner's Knee: Resulting from an imbalance in muscle usage from the front of the body to the back of the body while running

3. Ankle Sprains: Can become chronic and frequent due to overstretched ligaments and lack of foot/ankle control

Lastly, economy of movement is a key concept in running, emphasizing the conservation of energy for sustained efforts. When a runner adopts proper form and technique, the body moves with fluidity, minimizing wasted motion and energy. Tips for improving movement economy include:

1. Footstrike: Aim for a forestrike that falls under our center of gravity reduces the impact on joints. Avoid overstriding, as it can lead to increased braking forces and inefficient energy transfer.

2. Breathing: Establish a steady breathing pattern that synchronizes with your stride. Proper breathing contributes to oxygenating muscles and maintaining endurance.

Now, let's chat through some of the key elements of efficient run form. These include:

1. Posture: Maintain an upright posture, with a slight forward lean. This helps in aligning the body, reducing strain on muscles, and optimizing the distribution of weight.

2. Arm Movement: Keep your arms and shoulders relaxed. The movement of your arms should be coordinated with your legs, contributing to a balanced and rhythmic stride.

3. Cadence: Aim for a higher cadence (~170-180 steps per minute) to reduce the impact on joints and enhance efficiency. Shorter, quicker steps often lead to a smoother and more controlled running motion.

In the pursuit of becoming a better runner, investing time and effort into mastering proper run form and technique is a non-negotiable aspect of training. Whether you're aiming for a personal best in a race or simply seeking the health benefits of running, attention to form can make a profound difference. To chat more about what a gait analysis looks like at our office, please reach out at 303-278-2623. We'd love to help you master an efficient run form!

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