Are you a runner or thinking of starting? Did you know that running posture plays a fundamental role in injury prevention? Having the right posture may reduce overuse injuries of your muscles as well as help you run faster, recover quicker and move more efficiently.
Firstly, let’s look at your trunk position or posture. As you are reading this slump yourself down in your posture and try and take 3 deep breaths whilst still hunched over. Not that easy is it? Now straighten up your posture and place your shoulders comfortably back and take another 3 deep breaths. Notice the difference? Now imagine doing that same experiment when you are running, with your heart rate elevated and your breathing strained to one word answers. Has that just blown your mind?
One of the little considered facts is that your torso is the engine room for your running. It is where your life system comes from (your heart and lungs) and it is the common link between your arms and your legs. If we do not take care to consider how our torso is positioned when we run we are missing a major factor in improving performance.
Hopefully you can already see the importance of getting this one thing right and, to be honest, I think it is the easiest thing to fix. However, it does still take work. If you have access to a mirror I encourage you to go and stand side on to it now. While standing there align your spine over your hips, the centre of your chest over your spine, then centre your neck over your chest and finally your head directly over your neck. Now while doing all this lean slightly forward to approximately 5 degrees. If you can achieve that then you have achieved ideal running posture. This alone will fundamentally improve your running results. This one change will improve your lung capacity your arm swing, your foot strike position, your drive, your landing and braking forces and ultimately your endurance.
Now once you have achieved this standing still you need to take it on the road. There are several cues that you can think of whilst running to help maintain this ideal position such as telling yourself “run tall” or imagine a string pulling you up from through the top of your head or you can imagine a string pulling you along attached to a sky scraper off in the distance at 45 degrees. Think about opening up your chest and pushing your hips forward. Different things work for different people and you need to find the cue that resonates for you.
It may not be all smooth sailing when comes to correcting this so some of the traps to watch out for in correcting your posture are:
- Don’t over do it. Sometimes we see people working so hard at being upright that they puff their chest right out and end up with a backwards overall body position. This has the effect of driving your feet further in front of you and can upset your foot strike position.
- Your overall posture should still feel relaxed. Watch for tense shoulders and arms. For some of us when we start focusing on a change like this we automatically tense up. If you are finding you feel really tight or under strain when attempting to correct posture you may need to do some mobility work first.
- Often one of the big things people realise when they start looking at their own posture is that one side of their body is stronger or weaker than the other. If you identify an imbalance this is a great opportunity to correct this either through some release work, rolling, massage or stretching or some strengthening work to bring balance back to your upper body.
So, once you’ve mastered your posture standing in front of the mirror take it out on the road to build your strength and speed. Maybe get someone to record you running if you can so you can look at it and make improvements. I would love to hear who takes on this challenge and what difference it makes.
See you out there!