Is your running form suffering from bad posture? How you sit, stand, and carry yourself off the pavement has a big impact on your own body mechanics and running efficiency when you’re on the pavement. Spinal alignment, balanced and flexible hips, and limber, pain-free muscles are a postural recipe for successful running technique that can make a big difference in your next marathon.
Bad Posture Health Risks
When it comes to running, even if you are the premier example of fitness
and core strength, bad posture simply kills good form. The tendency to
shift your body backwards in a slumping, rounded position, which tightens
your chest and weakens upper back muscles, actually moves your center of
gravity back. When running you may find yourself overstriding, landing your
feet too far in front of your body, experiencing lower back pain, and even
avoiding activating necessary muscle groups which help stabilize the hips
In addition to evoking bad running form, incorrect posture produces loads
of other health risks. Spinal compression from sitting hunched with a
rounded back can place unnecessary stress on internal joints and discs.
This causes adjacent muscles, tendons, and ligaments to strain and pull to
help stabilize the back as well as leads to pelvic tilt, an imbalance in
As you become accustomed to sitting and staring at screens throughout the
day as well (i.e. working on your computer, looking at your phone, and
watching TV), you may find your shoulders drawing forward and your neck and
head craning. The further they move past your shoulders and out of
alignment with your spine, the greater the force of gravity is actually
pulling on them, resulting in negative leverage on your muscles all the way
from your neck down to your hips.
Slumping and slouching not only causes painful inflammation and sore, tense
muscles, but it can press down on the thoracic cavity and diminish your
lung capacity too. Filling your lungs with air is much easier when you are
sitting up straight with shoulders in a neutral position and your chest
open nice and wide. Lung capacity for runners plays an important role in
endurance and extending time to exhaustion – reversing bad posture could
potentially help build stronger, more durable breathing techniques to power
even longer training.
How to Reverse Bad Posture for Running
Want to reverse your bad posture and enhance your running form? These
simple tips and tricks may be just the ticket to kicking a bad habit for
- Stretch – stiff, sore back muscles make it incredibly difficult to sit up straight for an extended period of time. Stretching, whether it is after a run or with yoga practice, can help re-lengthen the spine and draw muscles out (and your hip flexors), and make them more malleable and elastic.
- Do NOT Sit Cross Legged – it is so easy to spend hours each day crossing your legs – whether it’s at your desk at work without thinking or at home on the couch perusing Instagram, crossing legs is one of the biggest factors for developing imbalanced hips. A 2014 study even found that people who sat cross legged for more than three hours a day were more likely to experience rounded shoulders, forward head posture (craned neck), and pelvic tilt.
- Lift Weights – are you already supplementing your marathon training with weightlifting? Don’t forget to target those upper back and shoulder muscles which can strengthen your upper back, open your chest, and help you sit up straighter.
- Brace Your Back – just like you might wear a brace or supportive wrap for knee, groin, ankle, or foot pain when running, a posture-corrective brace may help you sit up straighter. The best back brace for posture will be made of comfortable, breathable fabric, offer support and spinal alignment without limiting range of motion, as well as be easy to get on and off.
- Practice Balance – in addition to running and bodyweight exercises, balance activities can promote better posture. Try sitting on a stability ball or standing on a balance disc without a straight and astute back, neck, and
shoulders. Pretty hard, huh? Balance exercises also help you hone your center of gravity and strengthen core muscles for more agile and precise running technique.
Your marathon training may imperceptibly be suffering from bad running
form. Keep posture in check with vigilant body awareness and beneficial
adjustments and exercises throughout the day when you’re not running.
You’re bound to see a big difference in form and endurance when you train
Written by Joe Fleming