The main thing I look to assist with when I look at athletes running styles is their posture while running. Good posture will help keep you injury free (apart from over training…!). It will also provide you with more power.
However running is only a small part of your week. On the assumption that you might run 3 times a week, and that your runs take a total of around 2-3 hours, that still leaves you with 165 hours in the week. 165 hours where your posture might not be quite so strong!
Good posture stems from not just having a strong core – the muscles from your torso and glutes, front and back of your body – but actually using it as well. One of the things many of us do when we relax and aren’t thinking so much is we have our pelvis in “anterior tilt”. This means that the top of your pelvis/hip structure is tilted forward. If you imagine your pelvis like a bowl of water it might help you visualise this.
To level off that bowl of water that is your pelvis, while standing squeeze your glutes slightly. At the same time draw your belly button toward your spine. You might feel your spine lengthen when you do this!
If you find feeling this difficult you can try standing against a wall or even lying flat on your back. Either way, the aim is to eliminate space between your lower (lumbar) spine and the surface.
Once you can feel that “core” engage, try walking with it. The main key here is to keep that belly button drawn in slightly. Every now and again just let everything switch off and see how different that feels.
You can take all of this in to your running as well, and by keeping your pelvis tilted correctly under your spine you should stay more stable as well as limiting chances of injury.
Because we as humans spend a lot of time sitting, it’s worth occasionally thinking about good posture while sat at a desk too
Of course no-one is going to remember to keep good posture all of the time. And things like heels on shoes – even small heel raise – can affect how you stand. But a couple of seconds thought a few times a day can have a big impact on your body. It can also influence your well being and even your confidence.
Send us a message or leave a comment and let us know if you have any questions! We all have our own thoughts on the matter, and we all have something different that suits us.
See what’s up next week for our #RunFormFriday tip! For more in depth understanding on how to put this into practise, get in touch and we’ll see how we can help!
Have you been told or read that you should learn bilateral breathing? Do you know what bilateral breathing is?!
What Is Bilateral Breathing?
Bilateral breathing is breathing to both sides. It normally equates to breathing on an odd number of strokes – 3, 5, 7 etc. It CAN be really useful in keeping your stroke even and help you maintain a straight line as you swim. Additionally the swimmers who tend to get shoulder/neck injuries and problems tend to be the swimmers who only breath to one side – a feature of poorer posture and reliance on one side doing the majority of the work.
[Tweet “Breathing to one side CAN potentially increase the risk of overuse injury”]
However I’d argue that breathing bilaterally is not a necessity and could potentially hold athletes back in the water. Especially with (but not confined to) new swimmers, there are so many things to try and focus on that breath control becomes really difficult, and trying to hold on to breathing every third stroke results in very quick fatigue.
In most sports, we don’t have to work very hard to get oxygen. But in swimming, specifically in freestyle , we have to turn our head to get air.
Maintaining good posture and a straight spine will keep your stroke as smooth as possible while breathing.
Cycling or running at maximal exertion requires between 50 and 60 breaths per minute. If you are swimming anywhere from 400 metres to 2.4 miles, chances are your stroke rate is 50 to 60 strokes per minute. If you are an alternate breather, breathing every third stroke (1:3 ratio), your respiratory rate is only 20 breaths per minute. A swimmer taking 60 strokes per minute and breathing to one side on every stroke cycle (1:2 ratio) takes only 30 breaths per minute, far below the body’s chosen rate.
So it’s not surprising that maintaining bilateral breathing can potentially be a challenge!
[Tweet “Breathing bilaterally severely reduces your body’s chance to get oxygen.”]
When coaching I prefer to focus on making sure that the swimmer in front of me has a balanced stroke – that both the left side and right side are doing the same thing, that the core and spine are staying straight and not bending round to one side or another. From there you can ensure that general breathing technique is good. The next step is to make sure that when breathing, you don’t let your hand cross under your body. My favourite drill is to swim with out breathing, and slowly reduce the number of strokes between breaths. Try to maintain the smoothness as you add in more breaths per length!
Obviously it is a great asset to be able to breath to both sides; specially in open water where waves, wind or bright sunshine could make breathing one way more difficult.
[Tweet “Breathing bilaterally is a useful skill but not a necessity.”]
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to get in touch; either by email, facebook or leave a comment on here! Remember, you can always get your swimming reviewed in the endless pool with our video swim analysis packages.
See what’s up next week for our #SwimTechTues tip!