We’ve all been there…
Excitedly scrolling through your race pictures hoping for an Instagram-worthy photo, only to find a slouchy, less-than-ideal posture.
You see your neck craned forward, shoulders rounded, back slouched, and arms far out from your sides, making you think, Do I really look like that when I run?! No wonder why my neck always hurts!
Even if you typically have “good posture,” just like sitting at a desk job all day, your posture can worsen throughout your runs and races as fatigue sets in. This has recently become even more prevalent, with many individuals working from home with less-than-desirable home-office set-ups and increased time spent at a desk.
Why is posture so important when running?
First things first: there is no one “ideal” posture. Everyone’s posture will look a little different, and that’s okay!
That being said, there are a few common posture deviations that have been associated with neck pain, headaches, back pain, and shoulder pain. These include:
- Forward head position
- Rounded shoulders
- Increased thoracic kyphosis (rounded back)
Due to the position these deviations place our bodies in, they can also contribute to decreased lung capacity and increased energy expenditure, all negatively affecting running efficiency.
When addressing posture, physical therapists typically focus on the following measures: chest muscle length, strength of the deep neck flexors and shoulder blade muscles, and upper back mobility. A combination of stretching, mobility, and strengthening will help you to maintain an upright posture throughout your run allowing for greater efficiency and improved comfort.
Try these exercises 3-4 times per week to improve your posture and upper body running form!
Placing a finger on your chin, tuck your chin down and in while moving your head straight backward. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 10-15 times.
Lace your fingers behind your back, rolling your shoulders down and back. You should feel a gentle stretch in your chest. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 2-3 times.
Upper back extension stretch
Lie on your back with a foam roller horizontal underneath your upper back. Place your hands behind your head, exhale, and allow your back to extend over the foam roller. Hold for 5-10 seconds, and reposition the roller to the next segment of your back (lower or higher than your initial position). Repeat along the entire upper back.
Bent over row
Holding dumbbells, hinge forward at your hip with your arms relaxed towards the floor. Raise the weights up to skim the sides of your body while you squeeze your shoulder blades down and back. Slowly return the weights to the starting position. Repeat for 2 sets of 10-15 repetitions.
Kate is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, RRCA Run Coach, and Certified Running Gait Analyst. She is the owner of The Running DPT LLC, providing online performance physical therapy and run coaching to beginner and amateur runners. She is passionate about helping runners stay healthy and hit their goals! Aside from running, she enjoys hiking and camping in the Adirondack Mountains, traveling, and reading.