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  • Writer's pictureDr. Kristen Mitteness

The importance of posture on running performance

Updated: Dec 23, 2018

Proper posture is important for everyone. It allows your nerves to freely flow from your brain to your organs, muscles, joints, vessels and more. It allows for room for your organs to freely function. It allows for proper movement of your muscles, joints and ligaments. I've written on it before and I'm constantly educating my patients on it.

When it comes to running, poor posture is seen far too frequently, especially when fatigued. Running is a repetitive motion, often under stress and for a long period of time. When else in your life are you doing the same motion with an elevated heart rate for that amount of time? It is stressful! In addition to properly training for endurance, your posture needs to be addressed. This is especially important for runners who have a desk job or are in a seated and flexed position most of their day.

The first thing I want you to look at is your head. Are you ears sitting over your shoulders? Many of us have an anterior head position. The further our head falls forward, the more gravity takes over and the heavier it becomes. This results in undue stress on your shoulders and neck and can ultimately affect your nervous system function. All of the nerves that go from your brain to your body have to exit your spinal cord via your skull and spine. If they have limited room, you are going to have problems. It can be as basic as pain and headaches, but it can also affect your breathing, eye movements and range of motion.

Next, look at your shoulders. Are they rounding forward or are they aligned with your hips? The further your shoulders are forward, the more strain you are putting on your mid back (thoracic spine). This may affect the nerves that go to your lungs and heart, which are two very crucial organs when it comes to running. Not only that, when your shoulders round forward, you are actually leaving less room for your lungs. This can result in difficult breathing. As you run your torso may lean forward slightly, but your shoulders should still not round inward.

How do your hips look? Are they constantly tight and flexed? If you have a desk job and are sitting all day with your hips flexed and then you go run for miles on end encouraging more flexion you are setting your hips and low back up for a disaster. Extension exercises are a must before and after your runs as well as periodically during your working day. Prolonged flexion will promote accelerated deterioration of your brain and body.

Now look to your feet. When you stand, do your arches cave in? Are your toes pointing straight ahead, inward or outward? Line your feet up underneath your lungs with your toes pointing forward. Keep your feet there and then rotate your knees outward. This will automatically lift the arch of your foot, engage your legs and lower abdomen. Do this on a regular basis to rebuild your arches.

Proper posture is important for everyone. Because of the stress that running places on the body, it is even more important. You will run faster, more efficiently and feel better at the end of the day.

Now get out there and set some PBs!

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