What is the proper form for running? I find that whenever I run, even for a short distance, I end up hurting my legs. Sometimes my shins hurt, but most of the time after a little running the bottom of my foot hurts and I'm forced to stop. The area where the pain is at is right below where the balls of your feet are and whenever I take a step and go through the motion there is a sharp pain. I don't have special running shoes yet, I'm just running in some Chucks I have.

I'm not sure what I'm looking for in running form and technique. But I just found a tip to keep my hips up higher and it has slightly helped, in that it takes longer before my foot starts hurting.

EDIT: I'm now running in Vibram Five Fingers.

  • Where do you get hurt and how do you run right now? Have you tried different techniques in the past? Your current question is too general to give you a useful answer, so I suggest you add more information you found yourself.
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented May 31, 2011 at 8:36

2 Answers 2


It depends on how you mean by "Proper". To me, the proper way to run is in a way that prevents injury so you can enjoy running for either long durations of time and/or uninterrupted calendar periods due to injury. Some may subscribe to proper meaning achieving the greatest efficiency or pace or otherwise fastest times. My answer/advice to your question focuses on preventing injury, which I believe is the proper way to run.

I've read many articles in print and on line, consulting a coach, and have gone through a lot of trial and error on this subject over the last 15 months. There are wildly varying opinions on this subject.

Some people recommend "barefoot" style running or minimalist style. Others may recommend forefoot, midfoot running. And yet others, usually "traditionalist" Doctors and Scientist seem to support only negative results from anything but a mild heel strike.

My personal experience is that I was always a chronic and severe heel striker. And every year when my mileage and/or intensity picked up, I ended up with the same nagging injuries (chondromalacia, shin splints, etc). Last March, I transitioned (not over night) into a forefoot stride with the help of my coach. I transitioned rather quickly over about 2 weeks, running about 10-15 miles a week and incorporating some running drills. I have been injury free since. Please read this as being the recommended approach for ME and what works for ME.

My advice to you is if you make a change, do it very, very slowly. I transitioned quickly, but I've also read of people who took several months to change their stride.

Also, before you run any more, please, please, please go to a specialized running store. I like Chucks too, but not for running. There's a whole plethora of information on shoe types and topics like pronation that your running store will be able to help you with. Finding the right shoe (or at least a good shoe) is very important.

  • 1
    I agree: taking it slowly is a good idea! Also you should listen to your body, rather than focusing on improving quickly. The first will keep you running, the latter is likely to get you injured.
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented Jun 2, 2011 at 22:54

Try running barefoot. Running barefoot will naturally train you into a proper form, since improper form hurts when you're not wearing shoes.

The best running form utilizes a forefoot or midfoot stride (landing on the balls of your foot, or just behind the ball of the foot--essentially landing on the whole foot), which allows the natural structure of the arch, together with the achilles tendon and calf muscles to absorb the impact of your weight with the ground.

Keep in mind that in the beginning you only want to run barefoot for short distances, as the muscles and connective tissue in your foot are likely highly underutilized (and therefore underdeveloped). So start slow, maybe 100 to 200 meters/yards at a time.

It also helps if you can video yourself running on a treadmill so you can play it back slower to see exactly what your foot does when you run, both barefoot and in shoes.

Once you've determined how to run barefoot that doesn't hurt your feet (this is likely to be much closer to "proper form"), just run that way when you're wearing shoes.

  • 2
    Do note that you don't have to take the barefoot part literally, you can wear minimal shoes like Vibrams to protect your feet.
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented Jun 1, 2011 at 19:01
  • I was looking into the Vibrams today and I'm having trouble finding the right fit. Not sure how tight it should be around my toes.
    – L1th1um
    Commented Jun 2, 2011 at 1:39
  • I also looked into the Vibrams and ended up buying the Merrell Trail Gloves. My toes don't point straight forward (they angle to the outside) and the Vibrams just wouldn't work. As far as fit I'd guess you wouldn't want your toes wiggling around inside the pockets much.
    – alesplin
    Commented Jun 2, 2011 at 7:08
  • It's worth noting that this may not work for everyone...I have arches such that I can't even walk around the house for more than a half hour barefoot.
    – Beska
    Commented Jul 3, 2012 at 15:21
  • @L1th1um Vibrams are just one kind of "barefoot" shoe. Take a look at Merrell Gloves as well as the options from Altra Running. Commented Jul 3, 2012 at 15:55

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