Posture, positivity and more

Namrata Devikar
Sunday, 22 December 2019

Good posture and positive attitude are among the two most important factors that make a good runner and a healthy champion, says Dr Shailesh Hadgaonkar

Running is easy but ask yourself if it is as per your body mechanics, says Dr Shailesh Hadgaonkar, consultant spine surgeon and a marathon runner himself. “While everyone’s natural mechanics are different, it’s important to better your form. Running should be effortless and efficient. One should not get hurt so that one can keep doing the things one loves to do,” says Dr Hadgaonkar.

He shares good running techniques to reduce risk of injury and make it less tiring and more enjoyable.

  • Maintaining posture is the key. Be sure to gaze directly in front — about 30 to 40 metres. 
  • Keep your posture straight and erect. Your head should be up, your back straight, and shoulders levelled. Avoid looking down at your feet. Don’t tilt your chin up or down, which happens when people get tired. Looking down will create tension in your neck and shoulders. Keep your jaw and neck relaxed.
  • Your shoulders should be relaxed. Avoid tensing them. Don’t hunch over as this restricts breathing, allowing less oxygen to get to the muscles. 
  • Your hands should be relaxed, but don’t let them flop. Your arms should be bent at a 90-degree angle. Try to swing them forward and back, not across your body. The arm movement helps to propel you forward, so swinging them sideways is a waste of energy. 
  • Do not bend forward or backward from the waist as this places pressure on the hips. Don’t stick your bottom out or rock your hips from side to side. Your hips should remain stable and forward-facing. Maintaining this position can help prevent low back and hip pain.
  • Land with a slight bend in the knee. This helps to absorb the impact of running on hard surfaces. Don’t lift your knees too high and avoid bouncing up and down. Your knees should be lifting forwards rather than upwards.
  • Landing on the middle of your foot is the safest way to land for most recreational runners. 
  • Avoid striking the ground with your heel or your forefoot first. Your foot should land below your hips — not out in front of you. Aim for short light steps. Good running is light and quiet. Whatever your weight, your feet should not slap loudly as they hit the ground. Light steps are more efficient and cause less stress to the body. 
  • Focus on holding a rhythm, holding good technique, or holding a cadence. A goal of holding your ideal running cadence even if your pace slows, is a good strategy.
  • Whether you breathe through your nose or mouth, try to breathe deeply and rhythmically. Avoid shallow and quick breaths. Try to aim for one breath for every two strides, but don’t be afraid to try longer breathing.
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