Running may be one of the most efficient and accessible ways to stay fit. It doesn’t require a gym membership, and you don’t need expensive equipment — all you have to do is step out the front door and be on your way. If done properly, you can increase your distance and speed of running by using the correct form.
The efficiency of your running technique is directly proportional to the quality of your posture. What is good posture? Posture is the position in which you hold your body upright against gravity while standing, sitting or lying down. Good posture involves training your body to stand, walk, sit and lie in positions where the least strain is placed on supporting muscles and ligaments during movement or weight-bearing activities. Good posture involves having a straight spine and proper alignment of your head, shoulders, torso, hips, and legs. The more you slump forward, the more your body’s muscles need to work to hold you upright. Poor posture not only restricts the circulation of blood to your muscles and organs but also inhibits the oxygen supply from your lungs.
Proper running posture can increase your lung capacity and stride length; improving the efficiency of oxygen exchange and making you go faster. Your posture also sets the tone for the rest of your body. The position of your spine impacts the alignment of the rest of your body. Proper alignment is a critical component to improving your running form.
Proper running technique is a challenge; allow time and patience for your body to adapt to the demands of the sport. Here are five quick steps you can implement immediately to improve your running posture:
Hold your head high: You should hold your head high by pulling your chin back. This centers your head between your shoulders, and keeps your neck and back straight. Focus your gaze ahead of you instead of straight down. Relax your jaw and neck. Keep your shoulders relaxed and parallel to the ground.
Bend your arms: Lightly cup your hand in a C shape as though you were holding an egg. Keep your wrists loose. Bend your elbows at approximately a 90-degree angle with your hands gliding past your waistline. As your arms pump along your sides, your elbows should swing somewhere between your chest and waistline. Pumping your arms at a faster rate will allow for faster leg turnover.
Proper breathing: Deep abdominal or “Diaphragmatic” breathing is ideal for running. To practice diaphragmatic breathing lie flat on your back with a book on your abdomen. Slowly inhale as you watch the book rise, and then lower the book by slowly exhaling.
Foot-strike: Foot-strike refers to how, where, and when the foot hits the ground. Your foot should strike the ground from heel to toe. This will help prevent injury, such as a sprained ankle, from over pronation or supination of the foot.
Next time you go for a run, bring your best posture with you!
Dr. Krista Burns DC, DrHA, CPEP, CPS
Doctor of Chiropractic
Doctor of Health Administration
Certified Postural Specialist
Co-Founder American Posture Institute
Posture by Design, Not by Circumstance