Running Safely with Good Posture
Regular exercise is arguably the most proactive way you can improve your overall well being, and running is a great way to get your dose. However, a common thread amongst both new and seasoned runners is the very high injury rates associated with the sport. So how do we reconcile telling you to exercise on the one hand, and help you avoid injury on the other?
The answer: improve technique!
It is counter intuitive that we should have to learn how to run. Yet most other sports (swimmers to golfers, archers to dancers) rely on lessons, technique and form as a means to avoid injury and improve. Should running be any different?
One simple, yet incredibly powerful way to run with better technique is to improve your spinal posture. And fortunately for you, chiropractors are all experts in this area.
A good, upright posture works with the natural curves in your spine. An adult’s neutral spine is never flat, but instead has distinct curves, especially in the neck and the low back.
Deviations from this neutral posture shock your body into absorbing forces poorly. The result can be painful. Headache, neck, shoulder and low back pain can all be triggered by practicing poor posture, especially while running. For example, every 2.5 cm that your head juts forward from neutral, the weight of your head doubles! This is not very efficient.
Yet with an upright posture, your body is so much more capable of distributing the forces evenly. When upright, the spine can work with gravity so that your muscles need not work as hard. It can take pressure off of your neck, shoulders and low back! Standing upright also opens the passage way to your lungs for O2/CO2 exchange. These all greatly improve your efficiency.
One simple thing to do before your run is to find a neutral posture. There are many ways to do this, and you should ask your chiropractor during your next visit. But one technique I enjoy teaching is called the Champions Drill. Before you start your run, reach both of your arms vertically into the air as high as you can. Really stretch. Now imagine helium balloons are individually attached to the top of your fingers, centre of the head, the top of your chest, and the front of the pelvis, all lifting you further upwards. Then, maintaining this posture through your torso, drop your arms by your side. Now you can start your run with a safe, efficient and neutral spine.
Matt Bulman is a chiropractor in Annandale, NSW. He has a background in sports chiropractic and teaches ENHANCE Running technique (www.enhancerunning.com.au). Beyond spinal corrections to keep you functioning best, Matt diagnoses and treats conditions of the foot, knee, hips, hand, arm and shoulders of athletes. And if you have a body, you are an athlete!