6 Steps to Avoid Tension While Running

Stay Relaxed and Maintain Proper Running Form

It's important to stay relaxed when running because tension can cause improper running form, which may lead to fatigue, decreased performance, and even injuries. Runners typically get tense in their upper body. It's common for runners' shoulders to creep up toward their ears, which creates a much more inefficient upper body running form. Their arms start swinging side-to-side, which wastes a lot of energy and can lead to fatigue.

Throughout your run, try to check your running form to make sure you're not allowing any tension to creep into your run. Here's what to look for and what to do:

Relax Your Hands and Wrists

Woman running on the beach
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Are your hands in a tight fist? If you're clenching your fists, the tension in your hands will move from there up your arms to your shoulders and neck. Try to keep your hands and wrists relaxed. You should keep your hand in a loose fist, almost as if you're holding an egg and you don't want to break it.

Check Your Shoulders

Male runner wearing sports band and hi visibility top, running down winding road through mountains
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Are your shoulders moving up toward your ears? If so, roll your head, push your shoulder blades together, and let your shoulders drop. As you're running, periodically check the position of your shoulders, so you're making sure they stay relaxed.

Keep Your Arms at a 90-Degree Angle

woman running on bridge
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Are your arms at a 90-degree angle? When runners get tired or tense, their hands start to move up towards their shoulders. If you notice this happening, drop your arms and shake out your arms. Then, re-position them at a 90-degree angle with your shoulder back and relaxed, which is the most comfortable and efficient position for them to be in.


Arms and Abs Stretch
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If you sit at a desk for most of the day, you may carry a lot of tension in your shoulders, arms, and neck. Give yourself some mini-stretch breaks throughout the day to relieve the tension and stay loose. Make sure you stretch your shoulders, arms, and neck after your runs.

If you have extreme tightness and tension in those areas, you may want to get a massage to relieve it. If you can't go for a professional massage, you can also use a simple massage tool, such as a tennis ball to relieve tension on your back. While sitting in a chair, position the ball between your back and the chair and move yourself up and down while applying pressure to the ball.

Keep Your Arms at Your Side

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Are your arms crossing over your chest? Your arms should swing at your side and not cross your chest. If you're crossing over your chest, your arms will start moving up toward your shoulders and you'll find yourself hunching over more, which also makes it harder to breathe. Keep your arms at your sides, parallel to each other. Imagine a vertical line splitting your body in half—your hands should not cross it.

Don't Lean Forward With Your Head

runner smiling
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Thrusting your head forward when you're running can put a lot of stress on your neck and shoulder muscles, which can lead to tension. Make sure you're not leaning forward with your head when you're running. You should hold your head so your ears are right over the middle of your shoulders. Imagine yourself as a puppet on a string, running tall and straight up and down.

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