In sprinting, there is only one true constant – everybody runs differently. There’s no “perfect” running form out there since we all have different lengths in our limbs, different muscle sizes, different fibre sizes, different weight…no athlete will run the same.
There are, however, 3 consistent traits of a good runner, and 3 ways you can improve your running biomechanics;
1. Increase the knee flexion during the swing phase. Knee flexion means towards your butt during a run. You want that angle between your butt and heel as closed as possible. Think of a weight on the end of a string – the shorter the string the faster it can swing. If your leg is the string and your foot is the weight, by having a shorter string you can move your foot faster and with less effort. This results in a faster foot turnover.
2. Push forward through the hips. All the power comes from your hips. Instead of focusing on deliberately pushing off of the ground with each stride, focus on moving your hips forward. Pushing through the hips not only combines the strength and power of your gluteal and hamstring muscles during the push-off phase, but keeps your center of gravity constantly propelling forward.
3. Maintain flexibility in both the quadriceps & hip flexors. I can never stress the role of flexibilty enough, and in this case, the quads and hip flexors. These muscles help straighten your leg in the push-off phase and if these muscles are tight, they inhibit your ability to fully extend your leg when pushing off the ground. This causes your stride to shorten and every foot matters.
We can’t all run perfect but we sure can get close!