Good posture is key to an efficient, comfortable running style, writes personal trainer Jenny Dixon.
Running with good posture is key to running efficiently and with the body as well balanced as possible. Poor posture when running can impact your breathing and cause unnecessary tension to build in the upper body, causing discomfort. Not something you need to contend with on a longer run!
Here are some pointers to help improve your running posture. They start with the top of the body, as improving each one of these points has a direct impact on what is going on lower down when you’re running. For a demonstration of how its done, check out my training video at the end of this post.
1. Run tall
Try to look ahead towards the horizon rather than down at the ground. This keeps your head up and in line with your spine, helping to keep the spine in an ideal neutral alignment.
Tip: If it’s raining, try wearing a peaked cap such as a baseball cap. We naturally tilt our heads down in wet weather to protect our face and prevent rain getting in our eyes, but this instantly leads to poor posture. Pull the cap down instead of your head!
2. Relax your shoulders
Roll your shoulders back, opening up the chest, and then let them drop down to a relaxed position. This is important for a few reasons. By opening up the chest breathing is much more efficient and feels easier (try taking a couple of deep breaths in an exaggerated hunched position, then do the same with the shoulders back and down – you'll feel the difference).
Relaxing the shoulders back and down also places the spine in neutral alignment, eliminating any hunching in the upper back area and reducing the chances of lower back pain whilst running. Your hips will automatically fall into good alignment under our upper body as a result of running tall and with the shoulders relaxed, back and down.
Tip: As we tire during runs, shoulders have a habit of creeping up closer to our ears. This can lead to them starting to ache, so if you feel them creeping up, shake the arms out by your sides and roll those shoulders back and let them drop down again.
3. Arm positioning
Aim to have around a 90 degree angle at the elbow as you run. This means that as your arms swing back, your hands should reach back pocket level (think back pockets on jeans).
Keep your hands unclenched and avoid holding anything in your hands if possible. Muscles in your arms will be contracting more than they need to if you run with clenched fists, using unnecessary energy.
Don’t cross the zipper line! As your hands swing in front of your body, try to avoid them crossing the zipper line on your clothing, or the midline of your body. If your hands are crossing this point, it means that you’re swinging your elbows out to the side in an exaggerated fashion, wasting energy and will most likely lead to aching shoulders.
Tip: wear gloves in colder weather to prevent you clenching fists under sleeves. If you are a fist clencher, try imagining you are holding a crisp lightly between your thumb and forefinger, which you must not break!
Now watch the video...
Jenny Dixon is a personal trainer and running coach at Fit4LIfe , who is kindly donating her time and expertise to The Lily Foundation. Look out for Jenny's training tips in the Lily newsletter, Twitter and Facebook.
Training for a Lily fundraising event is a great way to get fit without paying expensive gym fees! Sign-up is free, and we have places available at some of the UK's most popular runs, rides and obstacle courses. To find out more visit our events page.