One would think running form would come pretty naturally. After all, most of us have been doing it since we were kids. In fact, many of us would run barefoot on the pavement or in the grass all the time and have no problems. But I want to submit to you that most pain and injuries that we feel after going for a run (or jog) is due to improper form. I'll try my best to explain why, but first watch this...
In this video clip above taken by a guy named Bill Sodeman (public domain through Creative Commons), you can see what I would consider to be good form. As you can see, he is wearing minimalist footwear (Vibram 5-Fingers) to simulate running barefoot.
Whereas I have little experience running barefoot, and I've never even worn a pair of VFF's, I think I can grasp the importance of this philosophy as it relates to proper running form; and I definitely support the minimalist perspective. For the last ten years or so, many (maybe even most) running shoe designers have had a complete change of mind as to proper shoe design, and the study of those who embraced the idea of "minimalist running" or "barefoot running" seems to have produced a significant amount of scientific studies that confirmed the benefits.
For one, running barefoot encourages proper form because improper form wouldn't feel comfortable if you ran that way barefoot. This could be one reason children, and many indigenous tribes in South America and in Africa (for example) run around barefoot with seemingly no problems of running related leg, hip, and back injuries. I would suspect it isn't so much the fact that they are barefoot or running in thin sandals as much as it is that they are running properly as a result of this "minimalist running."
Therefore, even if you are going to run in nice, cushiony running shoes, you'd better be sure they aren't encouraging you to run improperly. As I said, many new running shoe designs have changed to help with this problem. Following are some of the key elements of proper running form for you to consider (of course, there are going to be many slight differences based on individual body types and builds):
-Feet should basically strike mid-sole (arches act as springs) -Feet should basically strike directly under your center of gravity (striking out in front of your center will cause you to heel strike and will also place more tension on your knees, hips, and lower back) -Knees should stay slightly bent and act as "shock absorbers" for the weight of your upper body -Relax your arms at your side, elbows bent (think "T-rex") -Let your arms swing naturally, don't over pump them -Keep your back and neck straight but relaxed -Lean forward slightly (remember, running is basically just "falling forward!")