How to Run Downhill

Running uphill is a challenging cardio workout, but running downhill requires great technique and strong form. The following tips can help you run downhill by conserving your energy, reducing your chance of injury, and improving your speed.

1. Build up slowly to steeper hills.

Practice hill technique on small hills first because the steeper the hill, the harder it is to stay in control on the decent. Small hills help build your confidence and perfect your form.

2. Control your posture and keep your strides short and fast.

Short, fast strides allow you to adapt quickly to changing terrain and keep you in control of your speed so you don't end up doing somersaults down the hill. Work with gravity. Instead of trying to pull back, focus on keeping your posture straight and your legs moving constantly.

3. Control from your core and relax your legs.

The farther the muscles are from your core, the more relaxed they should be. So keep your core tight, but your lower leg and foot muscles as relaxed as possible. This helps you adapt to ground changes quickly.

A strong core is your best asset for conquering hills. You may also find that your legs move faster when they are relaxed, although you are exerting less energy.

4. The steeper the hill, the more forefoot your landings should be.

Your feet are more adaptable when you land on your forefoot going downhill. This helps produce a better turnover rate and supports a speed increase.

5. Reduce friction with rapid, controlled strides.

As you run downhill, gravity pulls you forward. To keep from falling on your face, you need to either slow yourself down using friction, or speed up your foot landings. Opt for faster foot landings. This can help you run both faster and more safely.

6. Rest as gravity pushes you forward.

After a hill ascent, this can be a welcome rest. Let gravity do most of the work here. Use your core muscles only to hold back enough to maintain control.

The key to running downhill is to maintain confidence, stay relaxed, and work with gravity. Don't be afraid as you gain speed. Increasing your cadence can prevent you from falling. Remember: short, frequent, and controlled steps are essential for running downhill efficiently and safely.

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Lou Rantin is a barefoot runner located in Ontario, Canada.

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