Linking current research to running

By Nikki Reiter

As a fidgety-runner-type-who-hates-sitting-at-her-desk and worries about maintaining good posture, I’ve been incorporating stretching a few times a day, in addition to multiple walks to fill up my cup at the water station and my mid-day run (with all these breaks, you probably wonder how I ever get any work done!) Personally, I’m more productive this way as it allows me to work in concentrated time slots with a clear mind.

So why is good posture so important for running? First, think about that hunched-over Quasimodo posture you adopt while typing or reading your monitor – this can cause shortening of the chest muscles, creating a more restrictive breathing situation. This is not helpful as an endurance athlete who is trying to maximize the use of their lungs. Often these runners start to lift their arms and over rotate their upper body as fatigue sets in, allowing for expansion of their ribcages to let more air in. Couple the shortening of the chest muscles with lengthening of the back and shoulder muscles from this posture and that also means reduced back strength for keeping your torso upright!

In addition to the cascade of upper body of issues, sitting also leads to low back pain for many. When sitting in an office chair for a long period of time, the natural tendency for most people is to slouch over or slouch down in the chair, and this posture can overstretch the spinal ligaments and strain the discs and surrounding structures in the spine. Then, when you try to run, these muscles are already fatigued from the work they’ve had to do while you were just sitting there! This in turn requires your hamstrings and other core muscles to be called upon to work overtime during running – something they were never ‘hired’ to do 😉

Here are a few good dynamic exercises to incorporate throughout the day:

  1. 3D Dynamic Hip Flexor Stretch
  2. 3D Dynamic Hamstring Stretch
  3. 3D Dynamic Calf Stretch
  4. AIS Chest Stretch

It’s a good idea to have a proper chair setup specifically for you, but nothing can compensate for lack of movement. So fidget and stretch away!

Nikki Reiter is a Biomechanist and private coach for The Run SMART Project. She also offers online gait analysis through Run Right Gait Analysis. Visit her website for more information.