Running Form for Beginners


Article by Alana Colombo, Physiotherapist at Renwick Physiotherapy

When we think about adopting a running technique, we look for a pattern that allows us to use the least effort with most efficiency, while trying to prevent injury.  While there are many varied running techniques that work for different individuals, some habits can contribute to injuries while others can waste energy.  Running mechanics can be affected by how your body is built and the strength and flexibility of certain muscles, but here are some tips that may help you to run more efficiently or even help prevent injury.  

Run tall looking straight ahead at the horizon. You want to keep your head relatively still and focus on moving forward and not up and down.  Try and keep your ears in line with your shoulders, which remain relaxed and not hunched.  A slight forward lean can help increase running efficiency, but it is important to avoid the common error of leaning forward from the waist as opposed to leaning the whole body slightly forward in a straight line from ankle to shoulder.  


Arms set your rhythm with elbows at 90 degrees or less and should always be even in their swing length. Hands slightly clasped but relaxed and should not cross midline of the body.


Abdominals, hips and glutes and should be strong and stable in motion.  Pelvis should remain relatively level.  


Your knees should be in line with the middle of your foot so that when your foot strikes the ground, it’s right under the knee. When we fatigue, we may start to shuffle.  By lifting your knees slightly higher you have more time in the air for your foot to get in the right position.  


There’s a large debate about the ideal area for foot planting, however more recent research suggests what matters most is that the feet land under the body (or close to under the body).  The key is to land under your body which improves momentum as you use your glutes to generate greater forward propulsion. Focus on pushing harder down and behind then forward to help stop overstriding.  Your ankles are also the source of where you should be leaning forward. 


Jog at a comfortable pace and rhythm when you first start running.  Once you are more experienced, a cadence of 170-190 steps per minute depending on the individual has been shown to be optimum.  When we are modifying our running cadence, it is vital that changes are made gradually (5-10% increments) and that we listen to our body throughout the process.  


It’s important to note that we all have our unique running forms.  Feel free to stick to your signature stride and style but just try to adhere to the above points since bad habits can easily creep into our running form. If you are experiencing pain during or after running, or just want to have a conversation about running techniques, contact the clinic on 02 95646463.