Poor posture, aside from being unsightly, can slow you down while also predisposing you to pain and injury. And since running can actually exacerbate a slouched over, rounded shoulder posture it is important to integrate some upper body strengthening training into your exercise regimen.
By Pamela Mazzuca HBSc. Kin, Athletic Therapist
A rounded shoulder posture is caused by a muscular imbalance where the muscles in the front of the body are tight and shortened while the muscles in the back are lengthened and weak – this is known as “Upper Cross Syndrome.” Upper cross syndrome increases your risk of rotator cuff injury, impingement syndrome, chronic neck pain and makes you a less efficient runner by impeding your ability to breathe deeply.
In addition to improving your posture and decreasing your risk of injury, adding upper body strengthening to your routine will also improve your arm swing, which is the “je ne sais quoi” of running. Arm swing propels your body forward and helps you maintain rhythm and cadence. A weak upper body can lead to your arm swing fatiguing before your legs, which can slow you down and end your run prematurely.
Integrate these three exercises on a regular basis to your training and improve your running and posture by summertime.
HOW TO– Lay on the ground on your stomach with your face down and arms by your sides at a 45-degree angle, palms facing up. Tuck your chin in, squeeze your butt, pull your shoulder blades down and together and lift your chest off the ground while you rotate your hands towards the ground until your thumbs point up to the sky. Hold for 15-30 seconds, lower and repeat six times. Remember to stop before you lose proper form or if you have any pain.
Side Lying External Rotation
HOW TO– Lay on the ground on your side, propped up on your bottom elbow. Holding a light dumbbell with a neutral grip in your top hand, bend your elbow to 90-degrees. Pull your shoulder blade as far back and down as you can, then lift your forearm up and hold for a second, lower and repeat for 10-12 reps. Repeat on the other side.
Row to Kickback
HOW TO – Bend forward, hinging at the hips and keeping your back flat, and slightly bend your knees. Hold a dumbbell in one hand with your hand facing you, keep your arm close to your body and lift your elbow as high as you can, hold this “row” position. Keeping your elbow high and your arm tight to your body, straighten your arm out behind you and hold this “kickback” position for a second. Reverse the movement and repeat for 12-15 repetitions. Repeat on the other side.