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On the Sixth Day of Christmas My Run Coach Taught to Me...

Welcome to our holiday gift to you:
Twelve Days of Healthy Running Tips

On the sixth day of Christmas
my run coach taught to me:
Cultivate Neutral Feet
recruit my hamstrings
how to use gravity
3 key running phases
to use my Achilles tendons
and a proper foot strike...


Quick, stand up and look down! Are your feet straight? Or are they positioned like a duck or are you sticking one foot out to the side? If your feet aren't in a neutral, straight position by default when you're simply standing - what do you think they're doing when you run?

 
Neutral Foot vs Duck Foot Running


If you cultivate a neutral foot position and a neutral spine as your natural, default position, it will benefit your running. It helps with a concept called "midline" stabilization and is your pathway to efficiently activating the large, powerful muscles of the back, hips, hamstrings, and calves. When you run with a stable midline, you are in the best position to engage the muscles you should be using while running, thus reducing the likelihood of injury.

Tips on Cultivating Neutral Feet

How do you cultivate neutral feet and a neutral spine? Start with awareness… Align your feet throughout the day whenever it comes to mind. Run short spot checks on yourself.  You're standing in line, look down… are your feet straight? You're brushing your teeth... do you have an erect spine? If not, take a deep breath and get yourself into position. Start with aligning your feet, then tighten your abs, pulling your navel towards your spine, next, squeeze your glutes and align your head over your shoulders. 

 
Cultivate a Neutral Foot and Spine Alignment

It's really simple but requires daily practice so that it becomes part of your muscle memory. Don't forget to check your position while your walking, running and sitting also. Here is a drill we teach to practice midline stabilization - do this in front of a mirror for best results.

Bracing Drill

(Source: Ready to Run by Dr. Kelly Starrett)
  1. Squeeze your butt as hard as you can.
  2. Pull your rib cage down to align it with your pelvis.
  3. Tighten your abs by pulling your navel to your spine - at least a 2 on a scale of 1-10 of tightness
  4. Set your head in a neutral position, align your ears with your shoulders and your shoulders over your hips. Make sure your feet are parallel and hip distance apart.
  5. Practice throughout the day and try to make it your default to keep your abs at a 2 on the 1-10 tightness scale.
Also consider Pilates or Yoga to help with your posture. I learned a lot of great core exercises as an instructor for [Solidcore] when I lived in DC. Although [Solidcore] is done on a machine similar to a Pilates reformer and uses resistance to really work your core, we can incorporate exercises similar to those performed on the machine to help strengthen our core and help with our posture.
~Julia

Beginner Pilates Exercise for Perfect Pose

We hope these tips serve you well in your quest to become a healthier, lifelong runner! Stay tuned for more TIPS TOMORROW and we wish everyone HEALTHY and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!

Keep on Running!

Julia, Patrick & Jo-Jo

Pose, RRCA, USAT and ITCA Certified Coaches

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