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Beginning runner’s guide to better form

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Form over function: when it comes to running, the proper form can save energy and improve speed. ©Kzenon/shutterstock.com

(Relaxnews) – If you’re a beginning runner, it’s normal to feel (and subsequently look) a little awkward. While it takes a little time to find your flow, running with a misaligned form not only eats up energy you could use to tack on distance but can increase your risk of injury.

While experts agree that there is no such thing as perfect form, and running styles vary, even for elite athletes, here are a few basics to help you start out on the right foot.

1. Keep your head balanced over your shoulders.

2. Keep shoulders relaxed. If you feel yourself tensing up with your shoulders rising up to your ears, let your arms hang for a few seconds or shake out tension, writes Active.com.

3. Try to keep your arms at around 90 degrees and swinging like a pendulum from your shoulders (elbows close to your body). One good rule of thumb from Active.com is to think of the zipper line on a jacket running down the center of your torso. Glance down at the position of your hands while you’re running, and make adjustments if you see your thumb or forefinger cross the zipper line. This creates torque in the body that can waste energy that could be used to run faster. “Hold your hands a little wider from your body, slightly wider than your hips,” notes Active.com. “As your arm swings back, think about reaching into your back pocket.”

3. Hips are under your shoulders and stabilizing your legs as they move under your body, writes Women’s Health.

4. Relax your hands. Avoid tightening your fists.

5. For beginners, don’t focus on foot strike as much as making sure your feet land with short, light, quick strides under your hip. “Good running is springy and quiet,” writes Runner’s World.

If you’re new to running and feel your form start to break down after some time, experts recommend you walk to let your muscles recover, then try running again.

For tips and advice on running for beginners: http://www.runnersworld.com/topic/0,7122,s6-238-520-0-0,00.html

For more guidelines on improving your form: http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-238-267-268-8210-0,00.html

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