The Impact of Bad Running Form

How 6 Bad Habits Impact Your Running
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the impact of bad running form - how 6 bad habits impact on your running

We recently published an article where We Run Coach Dave identified the most common mistakes of bad running form and how to avoid them. Some of you may have read the article and thought ‘Yeah I do that, I should probably stop’. This blog is to really sell to you the benefits of taking Coach Dave’s advice, and conventional wisdom, on board. Here is why poor running form is making you slower and more injury prone, and here are the benefits you’ll see from correcting it. Yes, it may be difficult to change the habits of a lifetime but trust us; it is worth making that change.

Looking Down

Your head is actually quite heavy. If it’s looking down it will pull your neck and back out of position. It’s also quite important to the breathing process.

Try this: Put your head down so your chin is sitting on your chest. Breathe in deeply so you fill your lungs with air. Now look straight ahead and take a deep breath. Which was easiest? Yes, looking down may help you avoid dogs and dog business. But looking ahead will allow you to see these dangers further ahead and also enable you to survey beautiful surroundings and beautiful people – there are many benefits to running, you know! I will allow one exception to this rule – if you’re running into a strong headwind you don’t want to get too much of it into your lungs, so you can tilt your head slightly downwards on these occasions.

Hunched Or Tense Shoulders And Stiff Upper Body

If your shoulders are tense your whole body will be tense. If your whole body is tense you will pick up more injuries and your stride length will be shorter. Repeat a similar version of the trick I told you in the previous paragraph. 

Try this: Pull your shoulders forward in front of you. Breathe in heavily. Now pull your shoulders back and do the same. Which got more air into your lungs? Your muscles need oxygen. Your lungs are doing their best to acquire this, don’t cramp their style!

Wasteful Arm Action

I see so many runners barely moving their arms. There is a reason why full or partial arm amputees compete in the Paralympics rather than the Olympics – the arms are a massive help to getting drive and momentum. If you don’t engage your arms, it simply isn’t a level playing field.

Leaning Forward From The Waist

There is a big difference between a whole body forward lean and a lean from the waist. The Kenyans tend to go for the whole body lean and it works pretty well for them! A running client once told me he leaned forward from the waist as he wanted to be aerodynamic ‘like a cyclist’. Look at how far a cyclist’s foot actually moves – maybe 12-15 inches each rotation? Your feet should be moving much further than that with each stride! 

Try this: Try to cover as much ground as you can in 20 steps leaning forward at the waist. Now cover as much ground as you can in 20 steps stood upright. Your body needs a straight back to get a decent knee lift and stride length.

Sitting On Your Hips

We’ve all got that one work colleague who tries to secretly do very little work and the rest of you have to work extra hard to pick up their slack. Well your glutes are that colleague and you must not let them get away with it! Lazy glutes mean your other muscles are working overtime, which can lead to hip flexor trouble, IT band pain, knee pain and even Achilles tendinitis. That’s right; other areas of your legs are even getting the blame for your glutes’ laziness! Your glutes need to be firing in order to stabilise the pelvis which will keep the rest of your lower body working properly.


Yes, you should make the most of your legs and take a good length stride but there is a point where the stride length can get too far. If you notice you’re landing with a straight knee or with your foot ahead of your knee, then your shin, knee, hip and back are taking a lot of forceful impact. Overstriding could also mean you’re too high off the ground when running, which not only means you’re asking your body to take a greater impact as you land, it also means you’re braking, which slows you down.

what you need to know
  • Poor upper body posture means poor lower body posture, and restricts your breathing

  • Lazy glutes can cause problems through your legs and must be addressed

  • Overstriding puts the brakes on and puts unnecessary force through your shins and joints

what you need to do
  • If you’d like help fixing your technique, drop us an enquiry and chat with your local We Run Coach!

  • Keep your bad habits in mind and consciously try to correct them – the correction will soon become natural

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