The importance of maintaining a good posture
The word ‘form’ is thrown around running discussions a lot, and not without its warrant either. Your form is crucial to getting the best out of your running.
One way to better your form is to work on your posture. Having a proper running posture can be a hard thing to achieve over a long-distance run, especially towards the end as tiredness begins to creep in. Yet, acknowledging the need for improvement in your posture and working to keep it on top form can help you improve your overall efficiency and prevent the risk of injury.
So what do we mean by proper posture? Well, it’s all about keeping your body in line to maintain a strong standing stance and help your body stay supported as you move. If you’re working on becoming a more economical runner, then focusing on the way your position your weight on both your muscles and your bones through your posture will help to improve your efficiency no end.
But hey, in a world where many of us are cramped at desks for a lot of the working week, it can be forgiven for learning poor posture through our routines. The real challenge is to not carry this over to your running, where poor posture can result in tension and injury more frequently.
So without further ado, here are some of our top tips for maintaining a strong posture throughout your runs.
Keep looking forward
No, that’s not just some general life advice — it’s how you should be running!
Keeping your eyes glued to what’s in front of you will help to keep your back straight and your posture on point. Don’t watch your feet, look at the ground about 10 feet in front of you to stay aware of your surroundings and on top of your form.
Ease the neck stress
Looking ahead of you and not on your feet is great for posture, but watchful that you’re not placing too much pressure on your neck muscles. Try and limit the amount that your head juts forward with each stride as it can lead to a sore neck, back and shoulders.
Keep your head up and aim to keep it from bobbing too much and you’ll be on track to avoid any tension in your upper body. A good tip is to keep your ears in line with your shoulders so that you’re not pushing your head too far forward.
Another way to stay on top of this is to limit your vertical oscillation (or bounce). Not only does an over-exuberant bounce waste precious energy, but it also leads your head to wobble, your neck to be more pronounced and your shoulders to hunch – all of which are things to avoid for a better posture.
Try to minimalist the impact of your landings by being gentler and lighter on your feet. That way, you won’t be taking off every time you hit the ground.
Think of your posture like a pose that you should be striking for the majority of your run – only, you do continue it as you move.
Your head should be raised, your back should be kept super straight (not leaning), and ensure that your shoulders are even, with your ears in line with them.
Leaning forward or backward can be tricky to maintain and can lead to lessened stamina and discomfort over time — so be watchful that you’re not straining your back.
Don’t go overstriding, now. Make sure that you’re striding in your reach, with your feet landing under your body and not ahead of it. That way, you’re making sure your body is unbalanced and you’re posture isn’t taken off course.
Shorter strides are the name of the game when it comes to keeping a good posture. Remember, the way you portion your weight as you run, so don’t place too much emphasis on your muscles and joints when you don’t need to.
Check your posture regularly
As you go through the motions with your run, you’ll grow tired and your form may dip a little. Keep check of your posture and ask yourself if you’re still maintaining the correct stance.
While fatigue can mean that it’s common to slump forward near the end of your run, be conscious that this can lead to poor form and potential pain in your neck, shoulders, and back. Give yourself a check-up every few minutes to make sure you’re still keeping your posture tip-top.
Ease up on your shoulders
You don’t need to have your shoulders raised all the time. In fact, if you’re seeking a better posture, you should aim for relaxed, forward-facing shoulders and avoid hunching at all costs.
Sometimes, you might find that you’re shoulders are raised higher and close to your ears. As you’ve probably guessed by now, that’s not ideal. Checking your shoulders regularly will allow you to keep track of how relaxed your shoulders are, avoid hunching and keep them square and forward-facing.
Don’t swing your arms
With your shoulders facing forward and kept far away from your ears, you should aim to have a small, gentle swing that aligns with the movement of your legs, while mostly trying to keep your arms by your sides. Crossing your chest will lead to inefficient breathing patterns which is not ideal.
This will help keep your shoulders in place and also push your body forward in line with your legs as your posture stands tall. And, if you do swing your arms, it should be from the shoulders, not the elbows. That way, you can generate power to build momentum while still being kept by your side and avoiding your chest.