Sitting posture is one of those phrases that most people roll their eyes at, conjuring up thoughts of getting whacked over the thumbs with a yardstick by a nun. Your parents were onto something when they told you to “Sit up.” Posturing, without a doubt, is a huge contributor to injury in the running population. Think about it, we wake up, sit and eat breakfast, sit in our car & drive to work, sit for 8-10 hours, drive home (sitting), eat dinner (sitting), watch a little TV (you know), then boom!! let’s go for a run! Zero to hero!
The thoracic spine can play a big role in the mechanics of our running form and can be influenced by our sitting posture. As runners we often will forget about our thoracic spine (mid-back) and upper body and concentrate on our pelvis and legs. We do actually (or should) move our trunk while running. When we sit slouching is inevitable. A hopeless and ever waging war against gravity. Our chairs don’t help either. Slouching results in weakness and tightness throughout the thoracic spine. It’s not a one time deal. The effects of poor posture accrue over time. Tightness results through the thoracic spine inhibiting our thoracic spines ability to rotate and extend fully. Big deal right? Mmm Wrong. We need this range and flexibility to maximally engage our core, allowing us to engage our spinal stabilizers, pelvic floor, and hip muscles. Think of it as locking all body parts together to brace for the impact of each step.
The thoracic spine can play a big role in the mechanics of our running form and can be influenced by our sitting posture.
Moreover (yes there’s more), by increasing your thoracic curve (mid-back curve) with slouching, we will decrease our lumbar curve (lower back curve), creating length issues in the muscles in our legs, especially the hip flexors (Iliopsoas) and hamstrings. With the hamstrings & hip flexors shortening our running form is affected with regards to our stride and muscle endurance. Yes. There’s still more. By slumping forward we can affect the shoulder by changing the scapular (shoulder blade) mechanics. When we slump forward our scapula will wing out and forward tip, which increases your risk of overuse shoulder impingement (COUGH COUGH TRIATHLETES/swimmers!).
Keep fighting the good fight. Gravity is constant and will win. You’ll fix your posture and within a few minutes you’ll be back to hunching over your steering wheel or keyboard. Still, that’s no reason to fight back. Use cues around your office to remind you of your posture. Look at the clock? Cue a posture change. Phone rings? Cue a posture change. With time, these reactions become automatic and prevent you from turning into Quasimodo.
For those of you who belong to our workouts and exercise subscription, try this exercise.