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My Running Form

I just spent the last two hours learning what is tight and weak in my body and what the heck is exactly going on with my body when I run. It was actually very informative and very helpful. Those two hours were way better spent than the two hours I spent at the doctor last week.

Today I went to see John Stiner from Stiner Massage. I found him through an article I read in Running Times and it just so happens that he’s worked on a few of the elites: Kara Goucher and Galen Rupp to name a couple. To be clear, although John is a massage therpaist, the two hours were anything but your typical day at the spa. In fact, those two hours were intense, painful, and a far cry from relaxing. Probably the exact thing any injured runner is looking for.

We spent the first 90 minutes doing a lot of twisting, pulling, and stretching. However, the last 30 minutes I found to be the most helpful. After an hour and a half of being stretched into oblivion, I was told to walk, jog a little and stand still. Well that was the key to my runner’s injury hell hole that I often times find myself in.

Problem one: I have lower cross syndrome. In other words, I stick my butt out. My pelvis should be in a straight line with my shoulders and upper body. It’s not. I have an anterior pelvic tilt. Check out this video for a little more info.

Problem two: My hips go one way and my back goes another. I’ve always been able to feel this but it’s been hard to pinpoint why I do this.

Problem three: My glutes are always engaged. Instead of using my lower ab muscles to pull my pelvis in, I use my glutes to power everything. The other massage therapist I’ve been to see several times even told me he wrote in his notes holy s***, those are the tightest glute muscles I’ve ever seen. I think it stems from the fact I use to be a dancer and we were always told to squeeze our glutes like we had a penny we didn’t want to drop. I haven’t dropped that penny yet. 😉

We did a few exercises and I immediately was able to tell how I used my glutes instead of my lower abs. For example, when I did the bridge exercise, I was using my glutes, not my lower abs. As soon as I started focusing on engaging my lower abs, it was hard to go back to using my glutes. Muscle memory is awesome.

So how do I fix my problems? First, I have to focus on shortening the distance between my pelvis and my rib cage. I have to practice pulling my pelvis in. Second, I have to open up my shoulders. I let my shoulders roll in and that is no good for running. Apparently I also have inflexible ankles due to the fact I run more on the balls of my foot. Therefore, I have to practice pulling my toes towards my shins. Then of course there are the stretches I need to do to open up my lower back and hip flexor.

Driving home tonight was actually quite entertaining. I barely remember the drive because I was too busy focusing on pulling my pelvis in, stretching my toes to my shins (cruise control helped with this), and doing this neck exercise to help with my spine. I probably looked really silly to anybody driving beside me. Oh well, anything to help an injured runner. 🙂

It really helps to have someone tell me what I’m doing when I run and it’s so incredibly amazing how every part in the body affects another. Now I’m off to stretch my ankles and work on my pelvis…. I miss running so much. 😦

Happy Trails and Happy Running,


Recovery Update: Hip/Leg still feel off. I wasn’t able to go to the gym because of work and my massage appointment but I will definitely be there tomorrow. I feel so gluttonous for eating all this food and not working out.

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Wow, sounds like a really useful session – I love the picture, makes the issues so clear!

    February 26, 2013
  2. This sounds like an intense, informative, inspiring, and clarifying session. I had a similar realization when I tried a new-to-me massage therapist and came out of the session with a new understanding of my biomechanics and a strength routine. I think the biggest thing with running is efficiency, which comes out of good form. And unless someone tells you what you are doing, it’s very very hard to “see” and self-diagnose.
    Don’t let that penny drop! (I so remember this from when I took dance years and years ago).

    February 26, 2013
    • That’s awesome that you had a similar experience. You are absolutely right – unless someone explains it to you and tells you what you can do to help it, it’s really hard to diagnose yourself. I think I’ve been aware of some of my form issues, but I just wasn’t sure how to fix it. I’ll get it figured out one day. 🙂 Happy almost Friday!!!

      February 28, 2013
  3. It’s great that you were able to get so much insight! I really became aware of my pelvis, using my abs, and my posture when I started practicing the Chi Running technique. It has helped me so much. It might help comment what you learned from John to your running.

    February 26, 2013
    • Yes, it was a really great experience! I took a Chi Running class over the summer and I need to get back to focusing on the technique. I get so overwhelmed with thinking about mileage, pace, form, traffic, etc. that sometimes I just let it all go. But good form is essential to being a lifelong runner. Did you read the Chi Running book or take a class?

      February 28, 2013
  4. *connect*

    February 26, 2013

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