This week on the A to Z Running Podcast we are discussing posture for running. Why our posture suffers, why it matters for running, and what we can do about it, including tips you can immediately apply on your run.
World of Running
WHEN: Labor Day, Sept 6, 2021
WHERE: New Haven, CT
WHAT: New Haven Road Race, 20k US Championships
Hot, humid, and hilly
- The men’s race
- Came down to a kick. Winner was none other than Ben True. This guy just keeps showing up! In a time of 59:53, Ben’s average pace per mile was 4:50 per mile. Ben True is marathon training for NYC.
- It wasn’t even close to a solo effort with Biya Simbassa finishing within the same second and Nico Montanex only a second behind.
- Leonard Korir who has won it multiple times said he is considering the 25k championships.
- Previous guest Clayton Young was 5th and in a post-race interview discussed how it’s hard to keep the mileage, do the workouts, and give the race the respect it deserves as a Championship race. Considering the 25k champs, he will do the half marathon championships.
- Previous guest Nate Martin was 15th.
- The women’s race
- Erika Kemp was the overall female winner in 1:06:20 was a new event for her. She has done the 15k. Went for it with two to go.
- 2nd place was Makena Morely who shared in a post race interview with USATF TV that she will also be competing at the 25k Champs and Half marathon champs
- Emily Durgin was third
- Lindsay Flanagan continues to show up strong at these road racing championships in 4th place. Training for the Chicago Marathon.
- Previous guest Obsie Birru ran a strong race in 1:12:21
WHEN: Sunday, September 5th, 2021
WHERE: Silesia, Poland
- Men’s 3,000m
- Tadese Worku (Ethiopia) took the race
- Soufiane el Bakkali (Morocco) was back on his feet in strong form for 2nd (recall the recent fall in the Steeplechase)
- This was a big upset, as Worku, world junior champ upset the recent gold medalist
WHEN: Friday, September 3rd, 2021
WHERE: Brussels, Belgium
WHAT: Brussels Diamond League
- The women’s mile proved to be an exciting race with 4 personal best times in the top 6 performances.
- Sifan Hassan went out hard on world record pace. (Her own record from 2019)
- While falling shy of the record, Sifan still claimed the meeting record and world lead time in 4:14.74
- 6 secs behind her was second place finisher Axumawit Embraye in 4:21.08
- 3rd place was Linden Hall (Australia) who ran an Oceania Area Record (including the Australian Record) in personal best time of 4:21.38
- U.S. athletes Elise Cranny and Josette Norris were 5th and 6th, both running personal best times.
- Australia once again strutting their stuff in the mid distance events.
Stewart Mcsweyn captured the win in 3:33.20 with countryman and previous guest Oliver Hoare chomping at his heels within less than a second.
- Third place was claimed by poland’s Michal Rozmys also under the 3:34 mark.
- Mohamed Katir did make a move on the pack, but faded in the final throws of the race back to 7th place.
- Slower day all round for the women’s 800m
- Jamaica’s Natoya Goule won the event in 1:58.09
- Followed by GB Keely Hodgkinson and Jemma Reekie within the same second
- 5th was last week’s podcast guest Kate Grace
- 6 of the top 10 ladies ran personal best in the event
- Francine Niyonsaba (Burundi) won in a national record and personal best 14:25 but she was not unchallenged.
- Ethiopia’s Ejgayehu Taye pulled around on the corner challenging Niyonsaba and was just held off.
- Hellen Obiri of Kenya finished in 3rd just a second behind.
- Alicia Monson ran a personal best and moved up to 4th on the U.S. All-time list!
- Only women faster are Houlihan, Schweizer, Rowbury
- Faster than such legends as Molly Huddle, Shalane Flanagan
MAIN TOPIC: Improving Posture for Running
While it is true that each person is unique and some elements of optimal form may vary from person to person, there are basic physics that tell us running posture is important for everyone.
This episode of the A to Z Running Podcast will make a case for why running posture is important, why it needs our attention, and what we can do starting today to improve it.
Why is our posture poor?
Head is bent over on our computer or phones.
- “The average human head weighs almost 12 pounds (5.4 kilograms) — the equivalent of a bowling ball! When your neck is bent to 45 degrees, your head exerts nearly 50 pounds (23 kilograms) of force on your neck. In addition to straining joints and muscles in your neck and shoulders, the pressure affects your breathing and mood.”
- In the article we link they also give some tips on how to design your work space for better positioning.
How this affects our spine
- “The spine has 4 curvatures… The reason why it has 4 curvatures and “jelly” discs is because the spine works as a spring and one of the spine’s primary functions is to absorb impacts and our weight whilst we are in the vertical position.”
- “When you are sitting down the spine “loses” some curvatures and increases others, so the ability to absorb impacts and weight decreases so your body has to rely on the muscles to help deal with this.”
- “This may lead to wrong mechanical patterns of movement that can lead to injuries.”
Jay Dicharry confirms this in Running Rewired…
- “Most of us spend a significant amount of time reinforcing bad postural alignment.”
- Sitting in a chair
- Standing while slumped
- Carrying heavy things
- Looking down over phone
- These things are all NOT neutral
Why does posture matter to the runner?
In chapter 5 of Running Rewired, Jay Discharry addresses the issue of posture for runners
- “posture is not a detail- it’s one of the most important aspects of running form. It keeps your body healthy and helps you beat the clock.”
- “If you can’t stand right, you can’t run right.”
- Interesting can test: set a 10lb weight on top of empty can… then dimple the side.
Our trunk must be mobile and also able to cue and connect power to the rest of our body. (We will talk more about mobility of the back in next week’s episode with world-renowned musculoskeletal specialist, Phil Wharton.)
What can I do to improve my posture?
Identify the problem (consider a top-down approach)
- Back, chest, and shoulders…
- Step 1: Open the Spine and Ribs
- Step 2: Open the chest
- Step 3: put your shoulder blades back where they belong
- Mobility of hip flexor/pelvic tilt is a key area
- Address this kind of thing specifically with mobilizing
- Test ankle mobility with the wall test (toe to wall, bend knee to wall, scoot it back, try again)
- Depending on where you feel tightness (front of ankle, back, or can make the motion but it’s stiff)…
- Simple posture test and re-wiring
- Stand relaxed/natural and eval: where is your weight?
- If back or front of foot, then need to make adjustments
Recommended by Jay Dicharry is also Basketball Mobility. Check on Instagram for a reel on that. I’ve also included the ½ Kneeling Trunk on wall from previous guest Adam Homolka of Endurance Rehabilitation and Athletics.
To really improve posture
- Increase mobility as we will discuss next week with Phil Wharton
- Strengthen and improve imbalances
- Build your neuromuscular responses to cue better form while running.
- Improve habits such as creating workspaces with your body in mind.
What can I do on my run to improve posture?
Put your hands over your head, that’s how you should feel when you are running.
(Mike Swinger has a nice little posture check-in strategy he calls the Zombie drills…)
While better back mobility and training functional movement will lead to your long term health and success, here are some things you can do today to help you with posture on your run:
- The single easiest thing to do which will help you with better form is looking up. Hunching and looking down is a hindering posture. If you are looking down your hips drop back, then you overstride.
- Opening the chest is often best attained by keeping the eyes ahead. A very slight lean forward is best for biomechanics.
- Airplane Zombie– Help efficiency and running form. Upper body is a tattle tale for lower body problems. Run with your arms straight out. It calibrates the upper body to keep it still to not allow for excessive rotational movement. Forces our hips and core to dial in more quickly. Feels awkward through the hips.
- Forward Zombie– Run with your arms straight out in front of you. Big problem hinging too much at the hips. This drill forces you to run more upright. Best for calf, achilles, hamstrings, low back, upper back. Do it for about 10 sec. As you do it more and more your body will learn.
- Overhead Zombie– Run with your arms straight above your head. What does our upper body tell us about how efficiently our lower half is working. Load and push off as quickly and efficiently as possible. Each time you load on a single leg and push off again, More stress on glutes and core and legs there is too much load. By putting arms way above the head. A longer lever arm, I have to work harder to keep from falling. Everything has to dial in more. More open and upright as well.
Interested in a training plan and/or coaching? We offer personalized support to help you achieve your goals!