Monday, June 7, 2010

Running Posture

I'm afraid that, if I don't work on my posture, I'll end up being one of those old ladies on the path who you admire because they're running even though they're 82, but who can't see you coming because they are so hunched over.

I realized this was a possibility after seeing a photo of me running. My trap muscles are up by my ears. I look like I've been doing a lot of press ups, but really, it's because I'm hunching.

Check it out:

Here are photos of my normal run posture (left) and the posture I'm striving toward. I marked the differences. With the good posture:
  • There's a space between my shoulder and the shirt strap because my shoulder ball is rolled back, better aligning my arm.
  • You can no longer see the mole and the flat of my shoulder blade. For me to achieve good posture, I really have to use the muscles between my blades, at the center of my back, to pull down and back. It's hard work, but worth it. 
  • Pulling down my shoulder blades draws in my middle back. In the bad posture pic, you can see a bit of my shirt in the back. In the good posture picture, it has disappeared, even though my chest doesn't look thrust forward. All the effort is in my back muscles.
If you want to do a self-assessment, have a friend photograph you near the end of a race or speed work, when you're too tired to fake perfect posture. Take a good look at the image. Are we going to be colliding when we're old and hunched? Are you letting one arm drag like a broken wing? Do you lift your chin like Queen Elizabeth at a parade?

As I try to adjust, I've found I'm sore from using my muscles in a new way. Yoga is helping, and I get a massage when I have the time and money. Changing my posture feels like quitting a bad habit - I know I need to do it, but it's frustrating and painful. I just hope better posture and alignment will let me happily age as a runner.

See you on the trail!