Fix Your Running Form in Three Minutes

Josh Orendorf, Paceline Physical Therapy

how to improve your running form

Runners are one of the most injured groups of athletes. While this is great for business (if you’re a PT), it’s not so great for runners.  As a runner, I am particularly sympathetic to running injuries. I’ve been through them and man are they frustrating. Although the repetitive concrete-pounding is partly to blame, I believe most running injuries can be attributed to a improper running form.  The three most important things to focus on when running are: posture, cadence and vertical oscillation. These three components are applicable to both the seasoned runner and the beginner. Whether you’re recovering from an injury or trying to prevent one, optimizing your running form is essential. Let’s take a look.

1. Posture

  • Neutral is best - try to avoid leaning too far forward or backward.

  • Run as tall as you can. Chest up/head up. Imagine your head is on a string attached to the ceiling

  • Helps to prevent uneven loading and creates ideal biomechanics.

2. Cadence

  • The total number of times your foot strikes the ground in a minute. Your goal should be 180 steps per minute (90 left/90 right).

  •  Use a cadence sensor or footpod with your watch. If you don’t have that option, find a song a that is 90 bpm and run to it. Spotify has some cool cadence-based running playlists that are worth checking out. If all else fails, count it. Your right foot should strike 90 times every 60 seconds.

3. Vertical oscillation

  • The distance between your shoe and the ground as you stride

  • Keep your foot as close to the ground as possible or to maximize your forward momentum. Minimize your ground clearance.

  • Vertical energy is wasted energy. Remember the goal is go forward not up. Be aware of this and actively think about staying close to the ground as you run

In order to improve, you must practice! Take a 10 min section out of your next run and work on your form. Practice posture, cadence and vertical oscillation. This will help run faster, stronger and healthier. If you’re interested optimizing your running form or need help recovering from a running injury,  simply CLICK HERE to get started. We’re happy to help! 

Josh Orendorf is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and owner of Paceline Physical Therapy in Franklin, TN. He is an Ironman triathlete and Boston Marathon qualifier. He has a passion for helping athletes conquer injury and return to sport without pain. He lives in Nashville, TN with his wife, Leigh, and their dog, Annie.