Exercises To Do This Week: All About Posture

So, runners typically have terrible posture. Runners and everyone else in the world who isn’t a professional ballerina or a yogi. Yeah, so pretty much 99.9% of the world, right? We’re all together on this one! Here are two exercise that are super-helpful with maintaining good posture and helping to keep from putting stress on your lower back. Just do it!

(Three cheers for Tampa, a very cheerful fitness model :))

#1. Swimmies

The ultimate upper back exercises to strengthen your traps, rhomboids and lats. It’s also great for shoulder alignment, as all of these muscles keep your shoulders from hunching forward, a la a certain hairy primate ancestor.

-Lie flat on your stomach (on a bench, the floor or a physio ball). Hold light weights (2-5 pounders) in each hand, palms facing downward. Position your hands so that they are just south of your shoulders.

 

 

-Keeping your arms straight, swing both arms towards your hips. Bring them back up towards your shoulders, but never above your shoulders. Always aim for your shoulders to draw away from your ears. Repeat for 1 minute 3 times.

 

 

#2. Deep Push-Ups

Most of us cannot do too many deep push-ups properly on our toes, unless you are a military person, which I am not. You might think, “push-ups work the chest, how could that help with posture?” Well, it’s the extension we’re focusing on here, not the flexion. By getting low, you stretch out the chest muscles and improve your posture along the way!

-Start on your knees (feet up) with your hips slightly lower than your shoulders and your arms wider than your shoulders.

 

 

 

-Slowly lower your body towards the ground and have your chest touch the ground, not your belly. Look slightly forward at all times so as to maintain a straight back. Do 3 sets of however many you can do until your arms shake and you can no longer push up. Usually, that’s about 10-15 for someone who works out. 3-5 for someone who is new to the sport.

Keep working on that posture, friends! Good posture during the day turns into good posture when you run. Good posture when you run means no back-aches after or during your run. No back-aches during your run means no straining the back and “pulling” it. All good things, right? Right.

Be strong. Get your weight training in. Rock it out.

Now go out and run!

Getting Started

When I first started running at the age of 10, it was a pretty simple idea. Do what coach tells you to do in practice and then run as fast as you can in the race. Done. I didn’t think about pace, strategy, speed workouts or rest days. I did what I was told and that was that. Well, come to find out, it’s still pretty simple but just not that simple. I’ve heard people say, “I’m just going to run X miles every day and I’ll build mileage that way” when asked about their training strategy. That’s isn’t necessarily a terrible way to go, but I have found another route to be more effective and less painful.

If a novice runner comes to me for advice on how to get started, I provide them with this 3-month Get Started program. Do these runs three days a week for the designated weeks and you will be on your way to your first 5K!

Month One, Week One-Week Two:

-5 minute walking warm-up                                                                                                              -1 minute run (at an out-of-breath pace)/2 minute recovery walk-repeat for 21 minutes    -4 minute walking cool down (a continuation of your 2 minute walk recovery)

Month One, Week Three-Week Four:

-5 minute walking warm-up                                                                                                              -.25 mile run/2 minute recovery walk-repeat 6-8 times                                                            -5 minute walking cool down

Month Two, Week One-Week Two:

-5 minute walking warm-up                                                                                                               -.5 mile run, 2 minute walking recovery-repeat two-three times                                              -5 minute walking cool down

Month Two, Week Three-Week Four:

-5 minute walking warm-up                                                                                                               -1 mile run, 3-4 minute walking recovery-repeat two-three times                                             -3 minute walking cool down

Month Three, Week One-Two:

-5 minute walking warm-up                                                                                                              -2 mile run                                                                                                                                          -5 minute walking cool down

Month Three, Week Three:

-5 minute walking warm-up                                                                                                              -2.5 mile jog

Month Three, Week Four:

-3 mile jog

Definitions:                                                                                                                                   Run: A pace that doesn’t allow for you to hold a conversation beyond a few words you can spit out between breaths.                                                                                                                   Walking recovery: A pace that allows you to fully catch your breath before you go into your next run (as slow as you like since this doesn’t add to your mileage)                   Warm-up: A brisk walk that is almost a run                                                                           Cool down: A walking pace that first allows you to catch your breath and then becomes a comfortably fast walking pace.                                                                                                   Jog: A run at a conversational pace that is meant to be kept consistent throughout the workout.

Here’s the thing, your body was meant to run in a way and at a pace that is specific to you and your gait. That gait is most natural at a faster clip than at a super-slow jog. When your legs have a chance to stretch out over a longer stride, you engage a variety of muscles at different points in your stride, which makes for less strain on one muscle group (I’m looking at you, quadriceps). I’m not saying that you aren’t a good runner if you run 10-12 minute miles, I am saying that you will feel better and run more comfortably at a faster pace for fewer miles at a time (until you can build into the longer miles) than at a slower one. When you run slowly, you run right on top of your hips because your stride is so short. This makes life very difficult for your quadriceps and your hips, but doesn’t let your fabulous hamstrings and glutes get involved. Stride it out, people! You can build mileage this way, too, and avoid those overuse stress injuries so many novice runners experience.

Yesterday, my client Tampa said to me, “I started running my 3 mile runs at 9 minutes per mile (instead of her regular 10 minute pace) and I feel soooooo much better! And it didn’t even feel that different.” I love it when that happens! You go, Tampa!

See? You can do it! You can run

So give it a try. Run faster for shorter distances and build your mileage that way. Now go out and run!