Martin Cullen's top tips for getting back into running

women's legs running

Hundreds of thousands of people across the UK have taken on the Couch to 5k challenge, and are finding their running feet.

BBC Radio 5 live's Anna Foster is one of those people, but she's conscious that bad technique can lead to injuries. She emailed with this question:

"I think one of my biggest issues at the moment is technique which is far from perfect. I'm a bit of a slumper and have to try hard not to look at the floor. Could someone please give me some tips and tricks for good technique?"

We thought that if Anna was worried about technique, other people on the programme might be feeling the same way, so we asked BBC Make Your Move's fitness expert Martin Cullen to give us some advice.

Here are Martin's top five tips for people looking to get their run off to a flying start.

1. Posture is vital for good technique

One of the most common problems with people who are getting back into running - or even starting running for the first time - is having poor posture and being "slumpers".

A great way to improve this would be to work on the robot movement in the Tea Time Toning challenge, which helps to strengthen the postural muscles. It is this muscle group that is important to help keep your body upright and make running more efficient and comfortable, which will allow you to run further.

2. A strong core makes a strong runner

Having a strong core is important to reduce the risk of injury by helping to keep your pelvis in the correct position. It also improves your running performance by keeping your body more solid as your feet hit the ground, in turn helping you stay balanced while running.

A strong core will make your body more efficient, allowing you to run faster and helping to prevent slumping.

If this is an area that you think you need to strengthen, then try one of the Make Your Move balance challenges, as working on your balance also works the important muscles in your core and abdomen. A few planks will also get your core working!

Man doing the plank exercise

3. Stretch out those hamstrings

By stretching your hamstrings, you will be able to take longer strides while running and improve your coordination and hopefully ward off lower back pain caused by the reduction of mobility of your pelvis while running.

A good way of testing how tight your hamstrings are is by trying to touch your toes. If you can comfortably do it the chances are your hamstrings are nice and flexible. If you struggle, the Touch Your Toes challenge would help you stretch them out and enable you to take those longer strides!

As an added bonus, flexible muscles also recover quicker, meaning that you reduce your chance of injury if you are looking to run regularly, as you would in the Couch to 5k.

man lying down with one leg up stretching his hamstring

4. Think big and run tall

This is simple but effective and is one of the best cues for runners looking to improve their form. It means that while you are running, you are keeping your body in a relaxed but balanced position.

This basic change will help to prevent slouching and improve your running technique as a result. The better your form, the less stress you will put on your body and thus you will reduce the chance of injury.

5. Long relaxed strides mean happier legs

Again, it sounds simple but if you stay relaxed while running it helps to prevent your muscles from tightening up and fatiguing. When muscles fatigue, it can cause slumping and all the problems that come with that.

Long comfortable strides will help to stop the muscles from becoming short and tight and will ultimately make your running action more efficient.

A runner trains on the grass and is shadowed by the sun

If you have a question about running, or getting active in general, contact getinspired.