Step 1- Fix your posture
Some common errors while running: excessive forward lean, excessive trunk flexion, excessive trunk rotation.
What you need:
Better rotation from your thoracic spine (t-spine) so rotation does not occur in the lower back and better trunk extension/an upright running stance.
What we will do:
Work on certain exercises to reflexively improve your posture and decrease any stiffness in your thoracic spine area. No equipment required!
How to do it:
Gain thoracic spine mobility and restore your posture reflexively.
If your T-spine isn’t mobile, your body is going to look for movement somewhere else as a compensation and that will be from your lower back, which really isn’t made for rotation. This will lead to low back pain during or after your runs. Your thoracic spine can rotate about double that of the lumbar spine, so working to improve the t-spine will free up any unnecessary stress to your low back.
We will also work to restore our posture reflexively by using some Original Strength(OS) ‘resets’. Their thought on posture is that posture is a reflex that you have, not a position you hold. This really rings true when you think about how your parents would tell you to stand or sit up straight, then you would for a minute or two, and then you would be back to your poor posture. Utilizing the resets, we will tap into our system and restore our lost posture.
Ways to work on your T-spine
Breathing (Reset #1)
Work on diaphragmatic breathing and not stress breathing. We do not want to be in our fight or flight stress response mode (when we don’t need to be) where our secondary breathing muscles are now acting as the primary movers with each breath. Get to your ‘rest and digest’ mode by breathing in and out of your nose with your mouth closed and tongue placed at the roof of your mouth behind your teeth. This will help relax your facial muscles and give you a better pathway for the air to flow. I like to imagine that I am inhaling air into a balloon. Feel your belly expand out forward and out the sides of your trunk. Breathe to your waistline. To get some feedback on this, you can breathe while on your stomach with your forehead resting on your hands. Breathe deep to your waistline and feel your stomach push against the ground as it fills up.
Front to Back Egg Rolls (Reset #2)
I use this one quite a bit throughout the week. It feels good and it works.
Start from a sitting position, bring your knees in and grab just below your knees. Then using your eyes, look behind you as if you were watching a jet fly over your head and tilt your head back to initiate the roll. You will now be falling backwards to the ground. Before you hit the ground, you will want to tuck your chin to your chest so you don’t hit your head on the ground. At this point your momentum should be taking your forward. Make sure the chin stays tucked and you are leading with your forehead to come back up to your seated position. Once back to start, pause, and start again. This is a great way to get a massage from the floor and help get rid of some tightness.
Half Segmental Rolls (Reset #3)
This, along with full segmental rolls, is one that I do every day. It feels great and does awesome things for my spine. To start, get on your back with your legs flat and arms lengthened on the ground overhead. We will start with using our RIGHT arm first. Using your eyes, look at an object down past your left foot, lift your head, lead with your forehead to the object and then reach with your right hand in that direction. Reach as if you are pushing the air in front of your fingers away from you. You will then come back down and do the same thing with the other arm. While you go back and forth using your arms, keep your lower half relaxed and loose.
Now to use your legs for half segmental rolling. Your arms are back to a resting position overhead. Take your right leg, bending the knee, up past your hip and then reach it over to the left, trying to tap an object. Bring it back over to start and repeat on the other side.
Next, flip over to your stomach. Get back into the stretched our position with your arms overhead. We will start with the upper body again, using the right arm. Tilt your head back, imagining the back of your head pushing against a ball, and bring your arm around like a clock reaching over to the other side. Go as far as you comfortably can and then come back to start. Repeat on the other side.
Now, we have to work on our legs. The arms are in a relaxed position overhead. Bring your left heel up and over like you are trying to touch your heel to your right hand. Think about a scorpion tail. Bring it back down and repeat on the other side.
Remember, do not hold your breath during the movement!
Windshield Wipers (Reset #4)
Start position will be on your back with your knees in towards your chest so that they are past your hips. Make sure your tailbone is off the floor here and that your arms are straight out to your sides, palms facing up. Now, drop your knees to the left as far down as you can go without letting your right shoulder leave the floor. If your shoulder comes up, you have gone too far. Stop your movement just before that happens and reverse directions. Make sure NOT to hold your breath throughout this exercise. Maintain your diaphragmatic breath while going through the range of motion. If at any point you feel you have to hold your breath, stop just before that so you can keep a calm demeanor. This lets your body know it’s okay to be doing what you are doing. This works on reflexively engaging your scapular stabilizers and improves your thoracic mobility.
Head Nods (Reset #5)
Head nods are a great way to activate your vestibular system, which is your control center for balance and coordination. You can do this from different positions but we will take the Sphynx position. This means we are on our stomach while propped up on our elbows. Once you are on the ground with your elbows underneath your shoulders and your chest big and eyes forward, you will look to the sky (remember the jet flying over you!) and then look down at your chest. Let your eyes lead first, and then the head follows. Stay within your limits. If you feel any pain, obviously STOP. If you feel a strain, stop just before you feel that in your range of motion. Remember, breathe and stay in your comfort zone. This is one of our steps in the developmental process. As a baby we work on raising our head from the ground to see what is around us. This will help reflexively strengthen your posture and work on some limitations with our flexion and extension patterns.
Rocking (Reset #6)
We are taking the ‘All 4’s’ position. Look forward and keep your head up. From here, all that you will do is rock back and forth (easy enough, right?!). Rock back to your feet and then rock forward out over your hands or however far you feel comfortable going. Stay tall and keep your shoulders wide. Rocking is a great way to work your joints, from ankles all the way up to your shoulders. This activates your muscles reflexively and trains your stabilizing muscles. This rocking position is one of the ways we get the curves in our spine as a child, so it only makes sense to come back here to help with your curves, especially in our upper back/thoracic area.
Putting It All Together
Egg Rolls x 10 > Breathing x 10 breaths > Head Nods x 20 > Windshield Wiper x 10(over and back=1) > Half segmental Rolls x 4 reps each limb (on stomach and back) > Rocking x 20
Do at least two rounds, two rounds in the morning and two rounds at night. You can also do these before you go and complete your run.
If you are really pressed for time, set a timer for 5-7 minutes and go through the resets until time is up!
There had been a long gap between running events for me and after implementing Original Strength resets and continuing my kettlebell training, my running form felt great and the run felt easy. I enjoyed the race more than I had in the past. I felt like I had been freed!
It is easy to fit these in your schedule, even if it is just 5 minutes out of your day. If you put your time in with these resets, you will start to see a difference. Give these resets a shot and become a free runner!