Do you spend most of your day sitting at a desk, slouched down over a computer and then try to go for a run? Have you ever taken time to look at your posture when sitting or standing and think of how it affects your running posture and overall performance? Well if not, you may want to start. Your posture while running is essential to your overall running performance and if your posture at rest is poor, you could be on the road to an injury.
If you try to run with proper posture but your resting posture is poor then you are exerting a tremendous amount of energy by trying to fight against your bodies’ alignment.
Improper posture is usually the result of muscle imbalances. As you fatigue during a run, these imbalances lead to an increase in tissue load and trauma which results in overuse injuries and decreased performance.
A good way to check your running posture is to work from head to toe. Getting your head in alignment is essential to running efficiently. Your eyes should be looking ahead naturally, not looking at your feet or up towards the sky. When you keep your head in a neutral position, it helps to strengthen your neck and back as well as aligns the rest of your body
Your shoulders should be loose, low and level, which helps to keep the rest of your upper body relaxed. If you find that as you tire on a run your shoulders start to tighten up towards your ears or tilt side to side, then shake them out and try to regain that loose and low position.
Your hands control the tension in your upper body. Your hands should be in an unclenched position. Arms should be swinging forward and back in conjunction with your leg stride and not moving across your torso. Elbows should also be at about a 90 degree angle so your forearms are moving between your lower chest and your waist.
To maintain the most efficient lung function, your back and torso should be comfortably straight and tall. If your head is in a neutral position and your shoulders are loose and low, this should be an easy posture to maintain. A good way to acquire this tall posture is by taking a deep breath. When you do this, your body naturally drops the shoulders down and back, raises your chest and straightens your back. Try this during your run if you feel yourself starting to slouch over. This is also a great trick to use when you have been sitting at your desk for long periods of time to reset your posture.
Your hips are another key aspect for proper posture as this is where your center of gravity is. Your hips should be facing forward. If your torso is comfortably tall then this should happen naturally. When you lean forward, your hips tend to tilt forward and this can cause an increase in low back tension. During your strides, your pelvis should stay level, just like your shoulders.
Your legs should have a slight leg lift with a quick leg turnover. Your mid-foot should be landing directly below your body. If you find that your foot is in front on your knee than your stride length is too long and will cause you to “brake”. The impact should be in the middle of your foot then quickly roll forwards allowing you to be propelled forward.
A great way to test your posture is to stand in front of a mirror with proper posture; shoulders down and back, tall spine, hips level. Now lift your right leg until it forms a 90 degree angle with your hip and try to hold it for 60 seconds. While you are holding this position examine what your body is doing. Your hips should stay level and aligned, your right knee should be in a straight line to your hip and your heel should be directly below your knee with a flat foot. Your left leg should also be aligned and stable. Repeat this on the other side. If you are having troubles holding this position, just think of how much harder and inefficiently your body is working when running in an unstable environment.
By doing simple exercises like this you can train and strengthen your body to improve imbalances and correct posture for a safer more efficient run!
For more information on proper running form we recommend visiting GoodFormRunning.com
About the Author: Sarah McIntosh is a Personal Trainer at Elite Personal Training Studio in London, ON and a proud Kinesiology graduate of the University of Western Ontario. She has taken her love of running to a new level and is now training to compete in triathlons. She also enjoys rock climbing, camping and baking, not all at the same time.