Jenny Blizard, physio and running expert speaking on behalf of everyday healthcare company Simplyhealth, comes across the same mistakes over and over again with runners and injuries. Here are her top tips to improve your running posture
Just one of these five simple “cues” will improve your running form, guaranteed. Find which cue works for you. Work through the list using one per run and if you don’t find the cue helpful move onto the next. When you find your cue, keeping tuning in regularly until it becomes part of your running posture, don’t force it.
Breathe through your mouth and nose on the inhale and use pursed lips to regulate your breathing rate on the exhale. The exhale part of the breath cycle activates the calming centres in your central nervous system, helping you to relax.
2) Keep your head upright
Keep the head upright and the rest of your body will follow. Looking down will flex the trunk, preventing the hips and knees from moving forward effortlessly and changing your breathing pattern. Aim to look 50m ahead, allowing you to scan the ground ahead and prepare for obstacles.
3) Shoulders loose and relaxed
Keep your shoulders relaxed, this allows you to breathe properly allowing a bigger lung volume, which in turn reduces your heart rate and respiratory rate. It also ensures that you engage your core muscles, which ensure a strong, stable running posture.
4) Arms relaxed and hanging vertically
Swinging your arms fanatically across your body in an attempt to move faster is inefficient for running 5k to the marathon, causing your pelvis to move too much and wasting valuable energy rather than transferring this energy into moving forward. Aim for your arms to remain around 90 degrees elbow flexion and not cross your midline or swing above your chest. If your feet are landing on an imaginary tight rope rather than just slightly narrower than your hips, this is a good indication that you have too much arm swing.
5) Feet should land underneath your body, not in front
If your feet land in front of your body, you are constantly braking each time your foot touches the ground sending shocks up your legs and spine, but also preventing a forward motion. With your feet landing underneath your body, you are more likely to have a bent knee to spring you forward and less likely to land on your heel causing you to brake.
I would always recommend that you seek professional help from a physiotherapist or podiatrist if you want to seriously work on changing your running posture. They will help you identify the imbalances and correct these with exercises that you do when you’re not running. Trying to dramatically change a running style whilst running on a body that is not prepared will result in injury, believe me I have seen it plenty.
Simplyhealth is title partner of the Great Run Series and is supporting runners every step of the way by helping people make the most of life through better everyday health. For more training advice, please visit www.greatrun.org/training-simplyhealth