Head Position Affects Running Posture: How’s Yours?

May 15, 2015   //   by James Dunne   //   Biomechanics & Running Technique  //  3 Comments  //  Affiliate Disclosure  

Head position and running posture

To date, every image and video I’ve used with our articles has been of adult runners and triathletes. It’s about time I gave the youngsters we work with a fair shout out too!

With kind permission from his father, shared above is an image showing the difference a small tweak to head position can make to running posture in one of our young multi-sport athletes.

This is just as true in adults.

The simple ‘look forwards not down’ cue worked a treat here, as it so often does.

Why Does it Matter?

I talk a great deal about the importance of pelvic control as a foundation for good posture… but let’s not forget what happens up-top.

Remember, your head is heavy!

Head position while running will in no small way dictate both how hard certain muscles in the neck and upper back will have to work to support it, and the position of the torso. In simple terms; when the head moves forward, so does the upper back.

Besides the brain, the head houses number of other essential pieces of apparatus when it comes to our ability to run. In particular the eyes and the vestibular organs of the inner ear, which provide us with important sensory information about motion, balance etc…

Eyes: Look Where You’re Going

Clearly, we need to look where we’re going! Both for the obvious reason, and due to the fact that we rely heavily on visual information to balance (try balancing on one leg eyes-closed!).

What I specifically want to mention though is how I see so many runners staring at the ground immediately ahead of them as they run. Eyes looking down, head titled forward towards the ground. Remember, if the head tilts forwards, the upper back will normally follow, affecting posture.

Normally when I mention this, trail runners are quick to remind me that they especially need to look at the ground immediately ahead, to check for tree roots, rocks etc…

I agree, but there’s a BIG difference between ‘eyes down’ and ‘head down’.

What Do You Do?

The simple message I want to get across with this quick post is to consider your head position as you next run.

Ideally I’d like to see your head centred, ears over shoulders as you run. Usually I suggest looking at the ground 15-20m ahead of you to achieve this position.

It’s important to glance down when needed as you run, but practice looking ‘with your eyes’ rather than ‘dropping your head’ to do so.

About The Author

James has an academic background in Sport Rehabilitation and a special interest in Applied Biomechanics. He currently coaches a large number of Runners and Triathletes across all levels of ability and performance. He's grown a strong reputation for enabling athletes to improve their running performance and overcome running injuries through improving their Running Technique and developing Running Specific Strength.

 

Facebook Comments

3 Comments

  • Inexperienced trail runners think they need to look down for tocks and roots but once the brain has seen them it automatically works out the most efficient route and guides your body to execute it.

    You can look 3 to 4 strides ahead or more in even the most technical of terrain without ever seeing your foot touch the ground.

    The faster you are running and the more uneven the surface the more important it is to look further ahead to give your brain time to solve the puzzle of when to move what where.

    Photons travel faster than nurons so use your site to scope out the upcoming trail to give your brain enough time to calculate the plan of action and send the signals to your extremities in time to avoid a fall or twisted ankle.

  • Great tip! Certainly helps me with trying to keep my hips under rather than running with my ‘bum in the bucket’…

  • […] Check your head to improve your running posture. Yes! Watch the front of the pack at any race and their heads aren’t sagging. […]

Leave a comment. Ask us a question...