Here's how to check your running form to prevent pain and injury.

6 Tips for Good Running Form

Proper running form helps you use your body more efficiently, with less stress and strain. For beginning runners, good running form can make a big difference in preventing pain and discomfort and helping you avoid injury. Here’s how to check your running form.

Your Back and Posture:

When you run, your back should be straight and erect, just as when walking. It’s easy to start leaning forwards or back from the waist, especially as you get tired. Keep from slouching by putting your pelvis in “neutral” position and pushing your chest out.

Your Neck and Head:

When you run, keep your head high and facing forwards, with your gaze fixed about 15-20 feet in front of you. If you find yourself looking down at your feet, bring your gaze forward and out, where you can be more aware of what’s coming.

Your Shoulders:

Straighten your shoulders and keep them squared under your ears. To keep your shoulders from tightening up, shrug them, then drop and relax.Try not to round your shoulders and chest, which can restrict breathing.

Your Arms:

Your arms should be bent at a 90-degree angle, with your elbows at your sides. Let your arms swing back and forth from your shoulder joint, rather than moving from the elbow, and avoid side-to-side arm swinging.

Your Hands:

As you run, keep your arms and hands as relaxed as possible with your hands at hip level. Keep your hands lightly cupped to prevent your fists from clenching, which can lead to tightness up the arms and into the neck and shoulders.

Your Feet:

From time to time, check that your toes are pointed forward and your feet are not turning out or in, which can lead to injury. Pay attention to your foot strike, and try to land on the middle of your foot rather than the toes or heels, then roll through to the front of your toes.

Here are more of my tips for injury-free running.

Brian Soo is a senior physical therapist at the Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Medical Center who works inpatient, outpatient, and in sports medicine.  A recreational runner for many years, Brian also bicycles, plays racquetball, and most importantly, paddles on a 20-person Dragon Boat team that competes internationally and practices three times a week. He also enjoys active video games and believes they can be an excellent complement to an overall fitness regime.