Runner’s Slouch Reversal Stretches
By Will Lind
I’m not telling you anything new by pointing out your slouched running posture. The reason you’re running with your shoulders rounded, torso twisting, neck poked and spine rounded is a deliciously complex and individualised one. For obvious reasons, I can’t delve in too deep there. However, we can look at some corrections because the overall solution for most runners is usually a mix of the following, in no particular order:
1. Re-Pattern. Reset your every day movement patterns and assume better posture all the time.
Time: This can take years.
2. Stretch. Lengthen tight and shortened muscles
Time: Improvement can come in a matter of days)
3. Mobilise joints and tissues
Time: Improvement can come instantaenously
4. Condition. Strengthen muscles that work in reverse to the tight muscle groups pulling you round.
Time: Improvement can come over a few months.
5. Re-Program. Learn, practice and ingrain proper run movement fundamentals.
Time: Benefits experienced from day one up until your last running step.
6. Continue to practice and enforce 1 through 6 for the rest of your life.
Time: Benefits experienced from day one up until your last, peaceful, dying breath.
Right here we’re going to look at number 2 – lengthening tight and shortened muscles. In particular, we’re focused on the chest, shoulders, biceps, forearms and latissimus dorsi (the ‘lats’), which, amongst other things, rotate the arm inwards toward the body. You might consider this stretch variation if you don’t have access to a bench you can use to lie on and do the stretch in reverse (lying on your back with arms hanging).
This stretch falls into a category of ‘lazy stretches’ I have in my arsenal because you don’t have to actively pull or strain yourself. Just reach and hold that position.
Kettlebells and dumbbells work a treat for this but you could grab any solid, heavy object that won’t topple, fall or drag.
Set the objects up so that when you’re lying face down you have to reach right out above your head and to either side of your body.
Experiment with keeping your shoulders pulled back (with your arms still straight out in front and angled to the side) and then with your shoulders reaching forwards too.
Over the course of your stretch session you will want to change positions from more directly overhead to angled out around either side of your body.
Don’t grip or hold the object, just use the friction of being in contact with the object to hold your hands in position.
Rest your forehead on the ground by pulling your chin backwards towards your body. Don’t cut off your breathing tubes and don’t tuck your chin. If you need, grab a towel or small pillow to cushion you.
Aim to keep your spine neutral. If you increase the height of your arms so much that it pulls your chest off the ground but your head remains stuck to the floor, you’re actually now doing the equivalent of standing up straight and poking your head forwards. Decrease the height used in the stretch.