Monday, 25 August 2014

Let's talk about hips, baby

There's something to be said for good posture.

A few weeks ago I developed a sore right knee. As I've never had knee problems this was very strange and unwelcome. Shortly after this I whacked my knee badly - on a rock - while playing at Suikerbosrand. A week of rest healed everything - mostly.

I've put the initial pre-bash niggle down to new road shoes.

The reason I put it down to shoes is:
  • I ran about 70km at Washie in my old shoes. No problems.
  • I run 6km in the new shoes and I'm left with a sore knee
  • Footfalls shouldn't be noisy - light, think light. The new shoes seem to make me land differently and my footfalls are noisier. 
  • I ran in old shoes for a week; no problem. I run once in the new shoes; sore knee.

I've given the shoes to a same-foot-size friend and he's rocking them. During this process of elimination I started thinking about posture because I felt that the shoes had affected my posture.

A fundamental principle of ChiRunning is "practice good posture". PoseMethod also promotes good body position. It's easy to get lazy.

My foundation in running for more than a decade was done on a treadmill. Kilometres and kilometres of treadmill running. Long distance, speed intervals - all of the above. What the treadmill has in its favour is that it eliminates variables like uneven surfaces, slacking off, barking dogs, pavements and cars. You can focus entirely on running and posture and good form. If you can catch a reflection - even better. With a reflection you can self correct - shoulders, arms, back, hips, legs and feet. It really is an underrated training tool.

For me, if something niggles, it is 99.9% likely that my posture is off. Too many hours spent on my computer is mostly to blame. Sitting is a posture where you're always bent at the hips and we usually spend more time sitting than running so it is hardly a surprise that this filters into our running. When we run, we want to be straight and tall, with a slight forward lean from the torso. We shouldn't run like we sit.

And so, for the past few weeks I've been focusing on my posture, tweaking my head and shoulders and back and neck and hips. And I chatted to my Wednesday running buddy about this too. He'd been thinking exactly the same thing that week. We ran our run, self-correcting along the way.

Around the same time (about two weeks ago) I chatted to another run friend who was experiencing knee niggles. "Hips," I said. She agreed. It was something on her mind too. Must be hip season. 

And hip mobility. This is something I first cottoned on to through yoga and also pole and circus school. Most foundation postures are hip openers. Open hips makes so many postures possible. Poor hip mobility will result in bad posture and niggles/injuries. Yoga is great for improving hip mobility.

I think that the biggest running posture errors stem from the hips (tilted too far forwards). Everything is connected and if one part is out of alignment, it will push the others out and that's when niggles (and later injuries) occur. This makes me think of the Bones Song...
The toe bone's connected to the foot bone,The foot bone's connected to the ankle bone,The ankle bone's connected to the leg bone,Now shake dem skeleton bones!
The leg bone's connected to the knee bone,The knee bone's connected to the thigh bone,The thigh bone's connected to the hip bone,Now shake dem skeleton bones!
And it isn't only knee niggles that occur as a result of bad posture and hip positing. Glute issues and ITB can probably be throw into the mix too. 

Good hip positioning results from solid core stability and a conscious effort to run with good posture. When you're out running this week, every few minutes think "Hips!" and self-correct as you run. That's what I'm doing on my runs. See whether it makes a difference to your footfalls, landing impact, posture and feeling of lightness. Works for me.

No comments: