Does the thought of running up hills deter you from signing up for a race or running a specific route? Hills can be intimidating to novice runners and expert runners alike, however, training on hills has been shown to increase cardiovascular fitness, power and strength.1 It also enhances variability on training surfaces, which can reduce the risk of overuse injuries.
It is important to focus on form when running hills, as form can be impacted by the increased workload and fatigue. Read below for three tips to help you train for uphill runs:
When running uphill, you have to propel yourself up the hill against gravity. Many people want to slow their stride frequency (cadence), however, focus on maintaining the same cadence while shortening your stride. Emphasize lifting your foot under your hip and let the ground meet your foot when it comes down. A longer stride forces you to work harder, using your calf and legs to propel yourself up the hill.
A forward lean occurs naturally when going up hills. Focus on posture, staying upright with shoulder blades engaged and looking straight ahead. This will ensure your rib cage is open versus compressed in a forward shoulder and slouched position. Poor posture leads to fatigue due to increased breathing difficulties from having a compressed rib cage. It also leads to back pain, neck pain and possible headaches.
Downhill running allows you to gain a lot of speed thanks to the effect of gravity, however, it can lead to injuries if not performed correctly. When running downhill, focus on keeping your core engaged and your shoulder blade muscles engaged (squeeze shoulder blades together). This will allow for improved stability to help manage the increased speed. Many people want to run with a backward lean, but that results in over-striding and places increased stress on the bones and joints.
If you are a runner that is experiencing pain with running on hills or on flat surfaces, consider being proactive about your health by scheduling a free assessment with an Athletico physical therapist. Our team will assess your pain or injury and provide recommendations for treatment so you can get back to doing the things you love – like running without pain!
Assessments are available in-clinic and virtually through our telehealth platform.
The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.
1. Ferley DD, Osborn RW, Vukovich MD. The effects of incline and level-grade high-intensity interval treadmill training on running economy and muscle power in well-trained distance runners. J Strength Cond Res. 2014 May;28(5):1298-309.