The position of the trunk and hips is critical for efficient, healthy running.
I’m pleased to share 8 Ways to Improve Your Running Posture, my latest article in Podium Runner. Running posture is vital for effective, healthy running. This article teaches you to mobilize joints that may inhibit good posture, and how to strengthen key muscles that reinforce good posture and make for stronger running. Here’s an excerpt:
Running is clearly a lower-body dominant activity. That said, you should understand that your body is an interconnected system more than it is a collection of parts. Running involves your entire body, from head to toes. That means your running posture—the position in which you hold your hips and spine while running—matters.
Optimal running posture is:
Comfortable: Able to run hard without pain.
Efficient: Use the least energy required for a given pace.
Minimally stressful: Forces generated by impact and propulsion are distributed evenly throughout your bones, muscles, and connective tissues.
Mobilizing your joints and preparing for your workout is a fairly important process. If you’re like most modern Americans then you sit too much, hunch too much and stay in these positions for hours. The result is stiff, immobile tissue and bad positioning of your parts such as your shoulders, hips, neck, etc. Further, It’s a good idea to get into the positions required of your workout without any weight before you get into those positions with weight so as to prepare those joints and tissues for the work to come.
Several areas of the body need to be mobilized: ankles, hips, spine (especially the thoracic spine) shoulders, and possibly wrists. Here’s a mobilization process that I use with myself and virtually all my clients. I may vary it some from person to person and workout to workout but this is the basic template. I’ve borrowed (okay, stolen directly from Eric Cobb and Z-Health and Kelly Starrett at MobilityWOD.) Remember: STOP IF YOU FEEL PAIN.
Feet & Ankles
I tend to work from the ground up, so feet and ankles come first. I think a lot of people walk into the gym with no mind toward their feet and ankles. It’s only every single step that we need those things to work correctly. The first video covers ankle tilts and toe pulls. The second video looks at a improving dorsiflexion (very important that dorsiflexion) by way of a 3-way calf stretch.
As I’ve said before, you sit too much. This is a repeat of the hip drills found in that previous post, plus another general mobility drill–all 4s rocking–that I think is very valuable. The last video is specifically for the hip flexors. It’s very easy to go right into the hip flexor drill as part of the other hip drills.
Now we get into the spine and shoulders. The first video looks at mobilizing the thoracic spine. The t-spine is very often stiff and tight as a result of sitting behind desks, steering wheels, over bike handlebars, etc. The consequence is that the the neck, shoulders and low back may have to make up for the t-spine’s lack of movement. This will be a problem at some point. Here you can see a saggital plane mobilization. Look here for mobilizations in two other planes of movement.
The shoulders are the most mobile part of the body. They can move in many directions and thus there are many drills available for the shoulders. Here are a few:
Remember, there are a lot of other joint mobility methods and drills out there. These are just a few that I like. I’ll probably refine and add to this list soon.