Running downhill is much harder on the body than most runners realize, and there are certain form tips to be aware of. These are particularly crucial if you’re running a long, downhill marathon.

Even if going downhill seems easy, it’s the most painful for many runners because of the constant breaking effect, which puts additional strain on the legs and knees.

However, to be clear, running downhill won’t injure your knees like running generally doesn’t. All you need to do is strengthen your knees.

There are a few reasons why running downhill can be challenging:


  • Running downhill leads to more ground force or a harder landing.
  • As a result of this intense pounding, more tears are created in the muscles, resulting in that burning sensation you get after exercising.
  • As a result of leaning back naturally, your heels slam into the ground, pushing pressure into your knees.
  • Your body responds to this as a break signal by tensing all your muscles to slow down.
  • Running downhill for an extended period requires different muscle control than flats, uphill or rolling hills.
  • You may experience strain in your legs as they are required to extend because of a limited range of motion in your hips.

5 Tips for Downhill Running Training

1) Increase Downhill Run Training

During training, try to do one steep, long downhill run each week, but not every run. You can start by running 2 KM downhill and see if there are any unusual soreness symptoms afterwards.

A hill run might result in more DOMs (delayed onset muscle soreness) than a regular run, resulting in muscular gains.

2) Practice Mid to Forefoot Landing

When it comes to your stride, it’s important to focus on landing mid-to-forefoot. Landing on your heels causes the entire body to jar, causing the brake effect to happen.

You aim for midfoot on flat ground, but going downhill is more challenging. The foot should not land too far on the ball of the foot and lose the benefit of making contact with the ground with the entire foot. However, you might focus slightly more on the forefoot to prevent yourself from hitting your heel on the ground. The act of heel striking by itself is not harmful.

As you run downhill, you will likely stride out more and place more pressure on your leg when you land. Your stride will probably be longer on a gradual downhill as gravity works in your favour, but you need to pay attention to how you land and maintain your centre of mass.

This is huge to prevent you from losing toenails or black toenails from running. As your foot pushes forward in the shoe, you will likely experience these problems when running downhill.

3) Change Your Arm Swing

Make sure your arms are lower, your body is in a 90-degree bend, and you swing a little faster. Usually, your legs follow your arms, so let things flow instead of slowing down.

4) Look Forward

It is natural for us to start looking down at our feet while running uphill or downhill. By doing this, you will be thrown out of alignment, and your brain will not be able to recognize potential hazards.

Looking a few feet in front of you will give your brain time to process anything that might come your way. When you do this, you will be able to change directions more quickly or pick your feet up higher to avoid roots and rocks.

5) Managing Steep Declines

Here are a few things you can do to help with steep declines:

  • Balance yourself by using your arms as wings.
  • Consider taking shorter steps, which will give you more control over your speed.
  • If needed, run in zigzag patterns to gain more control over your speed and minimise steepness.

Importance of personal accident insurance

A sports or fitness accident can occur at any time, especially if you engage in them frequently, like long distance running, rock climbing, and other high-intensity activities. High frequency and high intensity sports also have a greater potential risk of injuries such as muscle tears, dislocations, and fractures. In addition, you may experience injuries more frequently than those who are less physically active.

If you have a health insurance policy, you’re typically covered for costs associated with hospital stays and undergoing surgery. However, if you do not require hospitalisation, it will not provide coverage, but Income Insurance’s PA Fitness Protect can still provide the coverage you need for your outpatient medical expenses incurred due to an accident during the sport or exercise.

So, get yourself protected with PA Fitness Protect to keep you covered so you can confidently take your fitness journey to the next level! Watch this film now to learn more!

This plan provides accident protection for fitness fanatics with the following benefits:

  • Enjoy 2X coverage for medical expenses due to accidental tears, dislocations and fractures¹.
  • Up to $1,000,000 third party liability coverage per accident2.
  • Add-on coverage for your own sports equipment like bicycles and golf clubs.
  • Reimbursement of up to $5,000 unused activity fees per policy year2 if you are unable to attend due to sickness or injury.
  • Extra savings with No Claim Discount of 10% off your main plan.

Coverage starts from $0.58/day3! If you sign up for PA Fitness Protect now, you’ll get to enjoy up to $90^ fitness vouchers.

So now, you can focus on your physical journey, knowing that your financial health is also in good hands. It’s also important to listen to your body, exercise smart, and keep yourself insured.

Check out Income’s PA Fitness Protect now!

This post was brought to you by Income Insurance Limited.

^Promotion T&Cs apply. Please refer to the full promotion terms and conditions here.

1. PA Fitness Protect covers medical expenses due to accidents during an insured person’s participation in any sport, exercise or adventurous activity.

2. This benefit limit is applicable under Prestige Plan coverage. For unused activity fees benefit, we will not pay if the claim for activity fees is less than $50. Please refer to the policy conditions for more details.

3. This premium rate is applicable under Basic Plan coverage, with a yearly payment arrangement inclusive of 8% GST (9% GST as of 1 Jan 2024), rounded to the nearest cent.

All opinions expressed in this article are those of JustRunLah! and not of Income Insurance Limited (“Income Insurance”).  

JustRunLah! assumes full responsibility and control over the accuracy and completeness of all information provided in this article. JustRunLah! is responsible for the accuracy and completeness of all information provided and intellectual property used in this article. Income Insurance is neither responsible nor liable to any party for the content of this article and intellectual property used in this article.  

The information provided in this article is for general information only and does not constitute an offer, recommendation, solicitation or advice to buy any product(s). You should seek personalised financial advice before you purchase any insurance product. Purchasing an insurance product that is not suitable for you may impact your ability to finance your future insurance needs. Precise terms, conditions and exclusions of the insurance plan mentioned in this article are found in the policy contract which can be found at this link. This plan is underwritten and issued by Income Insurance.

Information is correct as at 29 Dec 2023.


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