When I get new students in my bootcamp or when my running group gathers new faces, we always go over these running techniques: posture, cadence, a mid-foot strike and the forward lean. These are 4 simple things you can adjust to help you run better, be more efficient and reduce the chance of injury.
Most people run how they walk, how they sit, how they live. This usually isn’t good – slouched shoulders, pelvis is tilted up and forward, they take huge strides and strike with their heel. Usually majority of their posture problems come from sitting at a computer all day or lots of bending over. I’d even go as far as to say that their body posture/image is reflective of how they feel about themselves.
Let me explain. There are 3 general types of posture most people live in that have a direct correlation to body image.
The “Meat Head” or overzealous posture:
Dripping with confidence, these folks usually stick their chest out and walk with too much swag, thinking that they’re the best thing since sliced bread. Their chin is tilted slightly up, their either take huge power steps or small “I own the world so I’m gonna chill” steps, their pelvis is tilted back and they have an exaggerated walk on their heels or toes. Their body is way too open – ribs are splayed, they breathe in their shoulders, neck is overexposed. Even though they seem confident, I can guarantee they’re insecure about something.
The “Eyore” or mopey posture:
I associate this with the Winnie the Pooh character Eyore because whenever I see folks with this kind of posture I always think of his line, “Thanks for noticing me.” People with this kind of posture tend to be more closed all around – their pelvis is tucked forward, shoulders and upper back slouch, neck and head sink in towards the torso and their focus is always down. Their steps will be slow, short and far behind their body; they’ll have a spaghetti body (loosey goosey) and lag in their movement.
The “Natural” or at-peace posture:
I had one Somatics professor say that a natural position happens because you know how to live in your body and you’re at peace with who you are. When a person is in a neutral position, their 5 points of alignment all meet up – you can draw a straight line down from their ear to their shoulder to their hip to their knee and then their ankle. There pelvis is sitting at a natural position without any shifting or tilting forward/backward, they breathe in with their belly, their chin is parallel with the floor and they focus out in front of them. They have a strong stance without needing to display strength. Their feet are directly under them while walking, they have a good sense of self. (here’s a great post about posture: http://thankyourbody.com/dynamic-alignment-good-posture/)
When you run, if you start your run in a neutral or “Natural” form, you’ll continue to run in that form. It takes work to be able to find your weak areas and change them. The great news is that it’s not impossible! Have a gait analysis done at a running shop, ask a friend to watch and see if you slouch when you run, take small steps to improve how you run. Once you do – once you can find your natural form of running – I promise that your running efficiency will increase. Plus, it’s better for your body!