In my book, The Art of Running, Raising Your Performance With The Alexander Technique, I devote an entire chapter to the question of good posture in running. This is a popular topic in the running press and you don’t have to look very far to get all sorts of advice on the subject: run tall, tuck the pelvis, pull the head up with a string and never ending exhortations to strengthen the ‘core’. Treating posture as something ‘special’ that we need to do when we run is like thinking we should only be polite when we want something from someone…the rest of the time we can act like ‘the Donald’…
You may have heard the Zen saying “wherever you go, there you are.” If we spend much of the day slumped in front of a screen, it’s very likely we are going to bring this pattern with us on the run. The quick fix, be it tucking, tightening, holding or pulling is a bit like trying to put lipstick on a pig: should you manage to do so it will cost you a lot of energy and you still end up with a pig.
Taking time to learn how to maintain better balance and poise in your day to day increases the likelihood of doing so on your run.
But why bother? Isn’t it enough just to get out there on a regular basis each week? Well yes and no. As a society we certainly need to move more and sit less so in that sense just running is good. But that leaves a couple of nagging issues like injuries, poor performance and looking really bad in those overpriced race photos!
What we’re seeking is a state of dynamic stability: a nice long back with a freely poised head and arms and legs that move freely and rhythmically, a bit like what you see in the great runners and also 8 year old girls. Kenyan kids who move a lot in their daily lives getting from A to B on foot are more likely to maintain these qualities; however, in our increasingly sedentary culture this is something we need to think about and work at. It’s not something we can take for granted. Our ‘instinct’ is not aligned with ‘natural’ any more. Although balance, poise and coordination can be developed by training, they will always be influenced by habit….namely the bad habits your mom was always on your case about.
Is it worth investing the time and energy to improve our posture? In my case, after completing the training as an Alexander teacher I competed at a high level and didn’t suffer a serious injury for more than 10 years . Most runners will start to see benefits after as few as 3 lessons. It’s well worth the effort.
Posture and Running