Healthy Back Tips for Runners: What to Watch out For
by Jennifer Lachky:
Back exercises are important for runners because underdeveloped back muscles can lead to shortening of the pectoral muscles. The risk: a hunchback. The rounded shoulder posture (RSP), which is also usually due to weak stomach muscles, can cause long-term spinal damage. Additionally, the intervertebral discs wear out faster and the spine can deform, resulting in pain and restricted mobility. But don’t you worry, with the following tips you can effectively strengthen your back and adopt the right posture.
How to sit correctly
It might sound trite, but very few people know how to sit correctly. The proper way to sit at your desk is to sit up straight and keep your arms and legs at a right angle to your body. You should also adjust the height of your chair and desk so your arms and legs can rest comfortably at a 90 degree angle. Change your sitting position several times per hour to avoid undue strain on one side of the body. It’s also important to get up and move around periodically because, despite everything, the human body is not made for sitting for long periods of time.
Do you stand correctly?
Standing correctly also has to be learned. When you have to stand and not move for long periods, your back muscles get tired very quickly. To stand with good posture, you should observe the following points:
- Hold your head erect but relaxed
- Push your chest out
- Tense your abs and glutes slightly
- Let your arms hang loose at your sides
- Bend your knees slightly
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart
A simple exercise can help you get a better feel for the right standing position. Stand up straight and reach your arms above your head as if you wanted to get something from the top shelf of a cabinet. Feel free to stand on your tiptoes and stretch your body as far as you can. Then, let your arms relax and fall back to your sides while exhaling and pushing your chest out.
The same rule that applies for sitting applies for standing: don’t stand too long in one position and try to move around as often as possible. If you have to stand a lot for work, comfortable shoes are a must, as they are for running too.
Safe lifting and carrying
It happens all the time that people hurt themselves lifting and carrying things. Especially when it involves heavy shopping bags or moving boxes. Usually, all it takes is one quick jerk to strain your back. To keep this from happening (again), you should leave the heavy boxes where they are. It’s better to divide up the content and make two trips than to hurt yourself out of false pride.
When lifting, you should always keep the following in mind:
Always lift with your back straight
- Start by getting close to the object (crate, box, etc.)
- Squat down, but don’t bend your knees more than 90 degrees
- Straighten your hips and knees (not your back)
- When setting the object down, follow the same steps but in the reverse order
Particularly heavy loads should be carried close to the body. That way, you require less strength to carry them. Also, try to keep your abs tight. This helps to stabilize your upper body while relieving your back. The lifting and lowering of heavy loads should always be done slowly and gently. Abrupt movements are often made at the expense of joints and muscles.
How to run correctly
Jogging not only strengthens your cardiovascular system, but your back muscles too. It’s a good idea to alternate between running on asphalt roads and concrete sidewalks and forest floors and grassy fields. While it’s true that many of today’s running shoes are well-cushioned, if you get the chance to run in the woods, you should seize the opportunity.
When you run on asphalt, you make the exact same movement over and over again. The lack of variety causes your core muscles and coordination skills to gradually atrophy and deteriorate. This is why it is better to run on forest floors. Running off-road strengthens your cores muscles as they try to compensate for the unevenness of the ground. Plus, the softer surface of the forest floor is easier on your joints. And, of course, there is the fresh forest air.
Jennifer Lachky works as a Marketing Manager for the Thomas Sport Center in Dresden. As one of the leading fitness providers in Dresden, the Thomas Sport Center not only strives to offer its members the perfect combination of sports and wellness activities, but also the most personal service in the fitness industry.