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Posture Exercises – Runner's Toolkit

Posture Exercises

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Why Posture?

Posture is dynamic, transient and ever-changing – the result of our past experiences, injuries, emotions, activities, lifestyle choices and interaction with the environment. Posture is “your story” and how you present yourself to the world.

That’s wonderful if yours is already excellent, but quite daunting otherwise. Changing your posture isn’t as easy as saying to yourself, “Stand up tall, don’t slouch, shoulders back,” etc. You have to first identify your habits, emotional and mental state and daily routines. In other words, you have to analyze your entire lifestyle.

That could lead to some startlingly obvious realizations. For example, if you have frequent right-sided neck pain, that’s because you’re most likely turning to the right a majority of every day for a substantial amount of time. When your neck is in that position for too long, it doesn’t want to go there again and it lets you know.

Pain is a request for change.

Good vs. Bad Posture

Bad posture can be a request for emotional, mental or even spiritual change. Think about a time when you felt sad, angry or anxious. Really get a good picture of yourself while you do. Notice yourself slouching?

Now consider a day when you were super confident. How were you standing or holding yourself then? The difference can be enormous. Whether that’s in a positive or negative fashion depends on how well you’re able to analyze yourself going forward – or right now.

Start with a self-assessment of your current day. How do you sit, stand and lean? Which side of the keyboard is your mouse on? Which hand do you hold your phone in? How do you drive? How are you breathing?

In other words, start with a solid awareness of what you do. The goal in all of this, of course, is to find our optimal movement efficiency. Ours. Not anyone else’s. Each of our bodies is made differently just like our days hold different to-do lists. So we need to learn how to best handle all that. There is no one-size-fits-all perfect posture.

Posture Guidelines

There are basic guidelines you can consider while figuring out your optimal expression. Having the rib cage (thoracic diaphragm) stacked over the pelvis (pelvic diaphragm), for one, contributes to improved energy transfers.

Additionally, think of the posture of your foot, which is the only contact point between the ground and our body. If it’s overly rigid and locked, you’ll have a difficult time loading forces well, which can then contribute to a whole host of injuries.

The foot actually needs the ability to become somewhat unstable and mobile in order to appropriately load impact forces. Naturally, if it’s too unstable and mobile, it can’t effectively strike the ground with the appropriate stiffness needed to efficiently unload force.

If you look at proper acceleration, there’s strong arm action, hip drive, dorsiflexion of the ankle, and stacked posture (rib cage over pelvis). This helps the runner “attack the ground,” or drive the ground away.

When runners transition into absolute speed, they’re more upright while, once again, striking the ground underneath of them. The posture allows for strong, efficient, optimal ankle motion; hip drive; and, of course, arm action.

Exercises for Optimal Posture While Running

To work on optimal posture for running, try the following exercises:

Wall Holdunfold_more

Check and practice optimal running posture

Wall Holdclose

Start with this exercise to get a feel for optimal running posture.

Dynamic Wall Holdunfold_more

Incorporate dynamic movement to practice good running posture

Dynamic Wall Holdclose

Start with wall hold and then introduce a quick weight shift to opposite leg while maintaining perfect posture.

Arm Swingunfold_more

Get a feel for arm swings while running

Arm Swingclose

Sit on floor with feet out in front of you. Slowly move arms in a back-and-forth running motion. Gradually increase speed until you are moving them so fast it feels like you are going to get lifted off the floor.

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