Maintaining good running form not only saves energy, it's one of the best ways to prevent injury.

Perfect Your Running Form

When you begin training for a half marathon or 5K, it’s certainly important to track how much you run per day and per week. (And don’t forget to take advantage of early bird pricing to register for the Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon and 5K!)

But it’s also important to pay attention to body alignment while you run, making sure everything is in the right place for the most efficient movement. Here are some tips from sports medicine experts for good running form.

1. Chin Up

To prevent neck and shoulder pain, lift your chin slightly; you’ll be surprised how much more upright your posture feels. Relax your shoulders, shrugging them up to your ears and letting them fall naturally. This upright posture prevents neck and shoulder pain.

2. Chest Out

Engaging your core for support, straighten your shoulders thrust your chest forward. This keeps you from slouching and limits your stride, preventing wasted energy.

3. Straighten Up

Look down; are your knees pointing straight ahead? Letting your knees cave in sets you up for IT band syndrome and knee pain.

4. Thumbs Up

Let your hands swing in front of the body, keeping them relaxed with thumbs pointing up. They have a tendency to flop sideways, but this position is less efficient and streamlined, resulting in wasted energy.

5. Hips in Neutral

Power your running with proper hip postion. Engage your core again, and pull your pelvis in and up. This keeps  your hips from tipping forward or back, which decreases your legs’ range of motion.

6. Step to the Middle

With each step, touch down in the middle of your foot. Let your foot roll slightly inward before pushing off the ground.

Melanie Haiken writes about health, wellness and fitness for national magazines and websites. She specializes in discovering and reporting the latest research on diet, nutrition, fitness, weight loss and other health-related topics. Her award-winning stories have appeared in Fitness, Shape, Health, Forbes, and other respected magazines. She also contributes health stories to numerous Kaiser Permanente newsletters and other publications.