How Running Posture Works

Keep your head up and look toward the horizon to boost your running posture.
Keep your head up and look toward the horizon to boost your running posture.
Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images

People have been running for ages. You might think we'd have it all figured out by now, but that's actually part of the problem. Because it's so easy to walk out the door and simply get started, running is about as misunderstood as it is popular. As a result, many new runners practice poor posture, which often leads to injury.

A 2010 Runners World poll found that 66 percent of all runners had an injury in 2009 [source: Burfoot]. Other studies indicate that number may be on the high side, but most agree that in any given year, roughly half of all runners have some form of running-related injury [source: Fields].

With this in mind, perhaps a good place to start is to get back to basics and simply define what running posture is. Basically, your running posture is the way you position various parts of your upper body as you run. Along with your running stride (the length and frequency of your steps), posture contributes to your overall running form.

The posture that's going to help you the most changes based on the type of running you're doing. Sprints, track, cross-country, trail running and marathons each have their own style. Beyond that, just going up or down a hill requires some modification to your posture.

Although no amount of training or good posture can guarantee a lifetime free of pain or injury, following some simple guidelines can go a long way toward making your runs more enjoyable, increasing your endurance, improving your speed and just possibly helping you avoid injury along the way. This article separates some of the proven fact from the mere hype of running posture, while offering some suggestions to help you run faster and minimize injuries. Read on to learn how to achieve proper posture, and you might find that you can enjoy running a lot more than you ever thought.