RUNNING POSTURE – the quick fix to running faster and reducing injury!
In this post, I am going to focus on the head and will be doing a series of blog posts on RUNNING POSTURE, each post with a focus on a different area of the body!
My first piece of advice is to focus on one area of your running form at a time. Trying to fix too many areas at once will make matters confusing, and you might also find that by fixing your one key area of focus, actually automatically fixes another!
Let’s get into it…
(how apt that the running emoji has shocking posture )
In this first post of a series about running posture, I am going to focus on your bonce!! (That’s the HEAD for anyone who doesn’t understand my primitive linguistics!!)
The human head weighs roughly 5kg (14lb in old money) and balances on a set of muscles in the neck that
- a) aren’t really that strong, and
- b) have, over this past 2 decades, endured a bit of a hammering since the invention of the mobile phone
These muscles were already in disarray since the invention of the typewriter, and as we have become ever more office-based, the issues get exacerbated and we find ourselves, as a species, living with a hunched over posture and rounded shoulders (the muscles have had to adapt in the shoulders and upper back to accommodate the constant leaning of the head!)
How does this affect our running?
As you can see from the infographic, the head, each time it leans forward 15 degrees, the actual weight of 5kg (depicted when totally upright and sitting nicely on the top of the spine and neck muscles) is multiplied by roughly double. Now, the head doesn’t get heavier, but the net effect on the body means it feels that way
So then… In running terms. Who fancies running with an extra 5kg on their shoulders? How about an extra 12kg? 22kg? Anyone? No? I didn’t think so! This is the effect it has and can cause major issues down the postural chain when running
How can you ‘fix’ this?
Firstly, stand up. Stand up now if you already aren’t! Imagine you have a helium balloon pulling your head up towards the sky! Feel how your posture is “tall” when you imagine this sensation, nice long spine and chest up. Now, next time you lace up, remember this before you start running, continue to check yourself as you run. This image of the balloon pulling my head up is always helpful to me and it reminds me to run “tall”. Do this next time you go out and run, especially helpful on those easy runs and towards the end of a long run as these are the times when our running posture tends to deteriorate, give yourself a few periodical running form checks. Do this let’s say every couple of miles.
- How is your head position?
- Is it at 0 degrees and sitting nicely atop your spine?
- Is it leaning forward? Do your shoulders feel rounded because of your head? If so, get it back to that lovely position and let that balloon pull it upwards!
Fixing the head position is one of the easiest and quickest ways to become a more efficient runner, and by more efficient we mean being able to run faster, for longer, using less energy.
If you can continue to keep that head up, keeping your eyes focused on the horizon (ok trail runners calm your boots, you actually only need to scan the ground in front of you every 5 seconds, the brain remembers enough information in this time to stop you from falling on your face! I heard this great piece of information from Shane Benzie in his book The Lost Art of Running which I reviewed HERE), and run “tall”, the net effect down the rest of your body, all the way to your feet is quite phenomenal!!
You should (will!) find yourself running far more efficiently and more relaxed, as well as the added bonus of reducing your chance of injury!