10 Common Running Mistakes and How to Fix Them

Sep 29, 2023

Running is one of the most popular and accessible ways to get exercise. However, it's easy to fall into poor running form and pick up bad habits that can lead to inefficiency and injury. Use this guide from Phoenix Fitness to correct your running technique and become a better, safer runner.

1. Overstriding

Overstriding occurs when your foot lands too far in front of your body, causing braking with each step. This not only slows you down but puts extra stress on the knees and hips.

Fix: Concentrate on taking quicker, shorter steps and increasing your cadence. Land with your foot below your hips, not too far out in front of you.

2. Leaning Too Far Forward

Leaning forward from the ankles rather than keeping your torso tall is a common mistake. This throws off your balance and causes you to lose power.

Fix: Run tall, with your ears, shoulders, and hips aligned. Engage your core to help stay upright.

3. Crossing Over

Crossing over happens when your legs cross over the midline of your body during stride. Doing so can cause muscle imbalances and injuries.

Fix: Concentrate on keeping your feet moving straight forward and back, parallel to the midline of your body.

4. Tight Hands and Shoulders

Many runners clench their fists and tense their shoulders when running. Not only can this lead to arm and hand pain, but it also transfers tension throughout your body.

Fix: Consciously relax your forearms, hands, and shoulders. Gently shake them out if needed.

5. Heavy Footsteps

Excessively hard foot strikes when running not only slow you down but can cause injuries over time. Land lightly and quietly.

Fix: Focus on light, quick turnover. Land softly on your midfoot/forefoot rather than harshly on the heel.

6. Improper Arm Carriage

Letting your hands cross over the midline of your body or flail side-to-side wastes energy. Keep your arms at 90-degree angles and move them straight forward and back.

Fix: Drive your elbows back and focus on quick, compact arm movement that doesn't cross the midline.

7. Looking Down

Staring at the ground rather than looking ahead compromises proper posture and makes you more injury prone.

Fix: Look about 20-30 yards ahead of you. Pick landmarks in the distance to run toward.

8. Hands on Hips

Placing hands on your hips may seem natural when fatigued but doing so interrupts form. Allow your arms to swing naturally.

Fix: Keep your hands off your hips and maintain proper arm carriage. Slow down if you need a break.

9. Bouncing Too Much

Excessive vertical oscillation (bounce) when running wastes energy and can lead to injuries. Try for just 2-4 inches of lift.

Fix: Concentrate on light, efficient foot turnover rather than bounding. Engage your core and glutes.

10. Twisting Side to Side

Allowing your shoulders and hips to twist laterally when running leads to imbalances. Keep shoulders, hips, and feet aligned.

Fix: Focus on efficient forward movement. Visualize running straight ahead rather than twisting.

Correcting these common running form mistakes will help you become a stronger, safer runner and avoid injuries. Need help improving your technique? Our coaches at Phoenix Fitness can conduct a run analysis and provide customized form coaching.