Guidelines for Runners

The following head-to-toe guidelines can help assist all runners, beginners and veterans, in experiencing a greater running efficiency and a reduced risk for injury.

Head Position: Always look forward. Eyes should be focused on the course about 10-20 feet ahead. Face muscles should be relaxed and the teeth should never be clinched. A tight jaw can lead to tight neck and shoulders which can hinder proper arm action.

Arm Action: Arms should be relaxed and held at about a 90-degree angle at the elbow joint. All arm movement should come from the shoulders, not the elbows. From the shoulder, the arms should swing straight back and forth, not across the body, which leads to a rotation of the torso and loss of momentum and efficiency. A proper arm swing arc can be gauged by allowing the arm to swing forward until the hand is about at shoulder height, and swing backwards until the hand is just behind the hip.

Hands: Hands should always be relaxed. Never run with a clenched fist. Hands should be cupped, with the thumb and forefinger gently in contact.

Body Angle: Always “run tall.” Hips should be “tucked” slightly forward, directly beneath the spine, and in line with the head and shoulders. Also, there should be a slight forward lean from the waist to allow gravity to keep pulling you in a forward motion.

Knee Action: The knee should follow a natural in-line arcing swing from the hip. The knee should never be forced above its natural lift. The lower leg should swing in a natural forward arc from the knee. Forcing the knees or lower leg beyond their natural swing can lead to overstriding.

Stride length: Don’t over- or understride. Stride length should be as close to natural as possible. Overreaching can lead to an increased risk of injury, as can a shortened stride.

Footplant: The foot should strike directly underneath the hips, with a minimal amount of inward or outward turn. It is generally recommended that the foot land on the lower portion of the ball of the foot. The heel is then dropped, and the final push is made from the ball of the foot. If there is a tendency to land on the heel of the foot, overstriding may be the cause.