Bad Running Form

What Does Bad Running Form Look Like – A Complete Guide

Bad running form is something most runners deal with. It can affect not only beginners but also elite and professional runners. Not only does poor running form affect your efficiency, but it also puts you at risk of injuries.

Luckily it is never too late to work on your running form. Many runners are self-taught. However, knowing the signs of bad running form can help you adjust your style and gait.

Even though good running form can vary from person to person because of their unique biomechanics, there are still some fundamental running form mistakes that you need to know.

In this article, we will outline:
– How to tell if your running form is bad
– Why running form is so important
– Explain 10 signs of bad running form
– Other Signs of bad running technique

So, if you want to adjust your running form because of injuries or poor performances, continue reading. You may even become a better runner out of it.


What Is Proper Running Form?

Proper or ideal running form is a posture that keeps the body in a relatively straight line. This straight-line means that the
lower leg, thigh, pelvis, trunk, neck, and head should be stacked on top of one another, creating a straight line throughout.

Because running works against gravity, the body will need to be neutrally tilted forward while being kept in line.

A common sign of bad running form is when the head is tilted to the side or backward, or the hips are tilted sideways.

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How To Tell If Your Running Form Is Bad?

There are many ways to tell if your running form is bad. Some of these include:

– If you are getting injured all the time
– Certain muscle groups are easily fatigued
– Drop-in efficiency
– Each of your running shoes (left and right sides) soles and uppers and worn out differently.

If you have none of the above, a running coach can help analyze your technique and find any weaknesses in your form. They can then point out and help you correct these faults.

If you don’t have access to a coach, or if a coach isn’t for you, you can film yourself from the back and side on a treadmill and look at your running form. Alternatively, you can step up a camera outdoors and run past it.

Once you have taken a video of yourself running, you can then slow the video down and analyze each stride. This will help you magnify these bad running form weaknesses and start working on fixing them.


Why Is Good Running Form So Important?

Good running form is important as it helps prevent injury and evenly distribute load across the muscles, bones, and tendons. When the body is out of alignment, it can place more stress on the opposite side of the body and cause overuse injuries.

Having good running form is also important for efficiency. A good running form will help you run faster and direct your power to move forwards, rather than losing this power trying to stabilize the body and keep parts of the body in alignment.

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10 Signs of Bad Running Form

Below are 10 signs of bad running form that you should keep an eye on.

– Neck Pain While Running.
– Side to side movement of your head.
– Regularly fatigued quads or hips.
– Breathing feels restricted during recovery or easy runs.
– Reoccurring soreness of specific muscles.
– Constant knee, hip, or lower back pain.
– Shoulder pain while running.
– Pain in the forefoot while running.
– Tight hand grip when running.
– Shoulders that aren’t relaxed.

If you experience any of the above symptoms while running, it is worth having your running technique analyzed.


Other Signs Of Bad Running Form

Tilting Your Had Backward When Running
Tilting your head backward or looking upwards while running is bad for your neck. Doing this forces your body out of alignment, and shifts your center of mass backward, which causes overstriding and excess heel contact with the ground.

Hunching Your Shoulders
Hunching or lifting your shoulders while running is common with many runners. As runners become more fatigued, it is normal for the upper body to become tenser. This ends up preventing you from staying relaxed and efficient during a run. Hunching your shoulders when running can increase the stress on your respiratory system and neck muscles.

However, for some runners, poor posture can also affect how much you hunch your shoulders when running. So, if you find your shoulders regularly lifting upwards when running, check your posture and mobility.

Hunched shoulders are common among runners that work at a desk every day. Because of this, it is important to keep the upper body muscles supple and relaxed. Getting regular massages or using a foam roller each day, can help reduce the amount of hunching you do with your shoulders when running.

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Running With A Tightly Closed Grip
It is important when running to stay relaxed. One of the biggest mistakes of bad running form is running with a tightly closed fist.

Running with a tightly closed fist can cause you to become less efficient and prevent the wrists, arms, and shoulders from staying relaxed.


Probably the most common on this list is overstriding. Overstriding can make your running less efficient and reduce the amount of cushioning your body receives when landing. It can also increase the chances of knee and hip injuries developing.

One way to know if you are overstriding is to measure your cadence. While everyone is different, a good running cadence should sit between 150 to 190 steps per minute. If you are below this range, you may want to check your stride length.


Knees Collapsing Inwards
If your knees a rotating or collapsing inwards while running, it can lead to numerous injuries and stress to the knees, hips, and feet. Some of the other causes include pelvis rotation, hip rotation, tiba external rotation, and pronation.

This may end up leading to injuries like plantar fasciitis, shin splints, lower back pain, shin pain and knee injuries.

Always make sure your knees are driving forward and in line with your forefoot.

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