Whether you’re an avid runner or just getting started, a few tips on improving your running technique can always come in handy. Running expert, Sascha Wingenfeld, explains how to land during contact phase, how your arms influence your leg work and why a warm-up and cool-down are extremely important.
How to land (contact phase)
The midfoot, also called sweet point, is the section of our feet which best stabilizes them while being responsible for dynamic transmission and suspension. “This is the strongest point of the arch and it’s where the foot muscles can reap the maximum energy return from impact speed and propulsion to the next step,” explains Sascha.
What to do with your arms
Your arms dictate what your respective other leg should do. Follow the trainer’s advice: “Try to form a closed triangle with your upper body, upper arm and forearm. That’s the so-called runners triangle. Focus on dynamically pulling your elbow back when running.” Pulling your arm back helps you pull up your knee. This is especially useful for uphill runs. Remember, your arm moving frequency determines your cadence (step frequency). The faster you move your arms, the faster and more dynamic your leg movements.
Where to look
Always keep your gaze on a point about 10 to 20 meters (approx. 30 to 60 feet) in front of you. In this position your head is the extension of your spine, thereby allowing your spine to best compensate the impact. This way, you can prevent tense, hurting muscles in your neck and shoulders.
Ideal warm-up exercises
Turn the first 10 to 15 minutes of an endurance run into your warm-up. Sascha’s tip: “Start very relaxed, then slowly increase your pace – this allows your body to get used to and prepared for the exercise and you avoid a cold start.” After this short warm-up phase, you should “activate” the most important muscle groups again. Make sure you move those muscles without reducing muscle tone.
To “activate” those muscles, repeat the usual stretching exercises 5-6 times and hold for 3-4 seconds. By tensing and releasing them, you can increase blood flow to the muscles to boost their performance.
Why cooling down is important & how to do it right
The cool-down phase initiates recovery – your body understands that the training is over. It can then start processing the training stimuli to further develop its performance.
“To cool down after your training, run the last 5 to 10 minutes at a reduced intensity, then stretch all big muscle groups. Unlike for the warm-up, try to hold the stretches for at least 30-40 seconds. Your muscles will know that the time has come to reduce tension and regenerate,” says Sascha.