How to improve your running form: 3 simple steps



Proper running form is imperative to maximizing your potential as an athlete, as well as preventing pain and lost training time due to overuse type injuries.

Improve Posture

Run tall: Keep the spine straight and the shoulders back with a slight forward lean. Keep the head up so the chin is parallel to the ground. Do not hunch over, lean far forward or backward, look up or down, rotate the hips back, or let the body drop towards a sitting position.

Keep the torso stable, with the entire body facing forward. That means eliminating unnecessary and counterproductive movements which waste energy, and aligning the head, hands, knees and feet to face forward. Avoid these common inefficiencies: head bobbing, head shaking, body swaying, body twisting, knees and toes pointing inward or outward, and the hands angling inward.

Stay relaxed throughout the body. It is especially important to relax muscle groups not directly involved in the running motion, such as the facial muscles, jaw, neck, shoulders, and hands.

Increase Cadence

Cadence, also known as stride rate – is the number of steps a runner takes per minute (SPM). It’s the most common metric used to measure running form and remains important for several reasons.

For starters, the shorter your stride length and the quicker your stride rate, the faster and better you run. If you have a low cadence, you likely also have a long stride. Runners who overstride tend to lock their knees and slam their heels to the ground on every step. This slows you down, creates a choppy, bouncy gait, and puts extra pressure on muscles and bones, making you more susceptible to injury.

Many coaches recommend and teach a cadence of 180 steps per minute.  This is a general recommendation because everyone is different, but it is a good rule of thumb and goal to strive for.  To work on improving your cadence all you need is a metronome app (which you can download free from the app store).  Set the cadence to 180 beats per minute and simply match up your foot strikes to the beat.  With practice your body will get used to running with a higher cadence and it will persist whether you are listening to this beat or not.


Feel the Ground

Optimal foot strike should be directly under your center of mass.  Most runners over-stride and land heavily way out in front of their body on their heels.  This puts excess stress on the body (specifically your knees, hips and lower back), and is inefficient.  The reason most runners over-stride is because shoes block the sensation of the ground from reaching their feet, which makes it comfortable to land improperly.  A good drill to work on improving foot strike and reducing ground impact is to practice running barefoot.  Start slow with barefoot training, no more than ¼ mile at first.  It will take time for your feet to strengthen and adapt.  Another option is to use a tool like the ShoeCue Insole.  The ShoeCue has a textured surface on the heel which mimics the sensation of being barefoot, while allowing you to wear your favorite shoe.  This allows you to more slowly and seamlessly transition to better running form giving your body time to adapt, as opposed to the more harsh transition to barefoot running.  You can learn more about the ShoeCue here.


  1. http://denverfitnessjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/better-running.jpg
  2. http://www.nyrr.org/youth-and-schools/running-start/coaching-videos/high-school/form/form-101-running-posture
  3. http://blog.wahoofitness.com/running-cadence-why-it-matters-and-how-to-improve-yours/


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