"The will to win means nothing if you haven't the will to prepare." - Juma Ikangaa, 1989 NYC Marathon winner
Have you ever looked at a runner and asked yourself, “how do they make running look so easy”? What secrets about running do they know that I don’t know? Can good posture really matter, and if so, what is considered good posture? I hope to shed some light on the importance of static and dynamic posture and how it can increase the efficiency of running, and more importantly help to prevent injury.
Let us take a minute and review my first article, “Correcting Bad Habits that Hurt”. In my previous article I discussed how motor programs (bad habits) can result in dysfunctional movement patterns that may possibly lead to pain and injury when running. These motor programs that lead to dysfunction and injury when we run, start from poor static posture leading to poor dynamic posture. The poor posture becomes the “norm” and is carried over into everything we do. These bad habits lead to overuse of certain muscle groups that ultimately lead to injury. Whether a recreational or elite runner, it is crucial to understand that, how we stand will dictate how we walk, which will dictate how we run. We are what we train. If you stand with poor posture that will become the norm and those muscle groups that are being overused or underused will always carry over to the act of walking/running. The runner will become efficient at being inefficient.
This leads me to what I consider the secret of running. The secret of running is the unique ability to control unconsciously your center of mass (COM) in relation to your base of support (BOS)/foot and resist the affects of gravity. Good static and dynamic posture is one that allows you to be more aware of where your body is in space. In the medical community we call this proprioception. Being proprioceptively aware of your body and its relationship to your foot/BOS and the ground is essential for your ability to load, unload, and recovery properly. It is this relationship between your COM and your BOS that allows you to accomplish all three phases of running efficiently.
So, let us look at what is considered normal standing posture and how this relates to walking and running. Good standing posture is the straight vertical alignment of your body from the top of your head, through your body’s center, down through the middle of your feet. From a side view, good posture is seen as an imaginary vertical line through the ear, shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle. The three natural curves in your back will be maintained. This posture will result in the COM being directly over the foot/BOS allowing your weight to be evenly distributed throughout the whole foot.
Now, dynamic posture is essentially the same as our static posture. When we run the only difference is a very slight lean forward from the ground (ankle joint), not from the waist (hip joint). The forward lean shifts the COM forward which allows for initial contact with the mid-foot and results in good shock absorption and sets up the muscle of the hip to be the primary force producers during running.
Take the time to know if your posture is correct and if not work hard to address those areas in your body that are preventing you from your running goals. Through a conscious awareness and correction of your posture you can turn bad habits into good ones. Enjoy the Process!
Jeff Moreno, DPT, OCS
Precision Running and Performance Clinic