How Do You Hold Your Shoulders When Running?

14 April 2022 | Category: Running Technique Advice

This article is going to look specifically at the shoulders, and the affect they can have on your overall technique. We will start this by saying many of these are visual elements – so we also recommend watching the video below in which Paul walks through how to hold your shoulders with the visual element. Now, I’m sure many of you have heard about relaxing through the shoulders and keeping loose in the shoulders. But what does that really mean?

Often we will see people who think that they’re relaxing through the shoulders, but they’re actually just relaxed through their wrists and their hands. And it feels like this is nice and fluffy and loose, but doing nothing to do with the shoulders.

The starting exercise to the shoulder position is back to Self-Awareness. In this case the questions to ask yourself, are:

  • Do you hold tension?
  • If you do hold tension in your shoulders, where do you hold it?
  • Is it through the trapezius which extends the top of the shoulders and base of the neck, or is in the rhomboids which is in between the should blades?

For the majority of us, we will actually hold tension through your trapezius, towards the top of the shoulders or base of the neck. The easiest way to think about your shoulder blades is if you start to run and you close the gap between your shoulder blades. Making that movement will help you to get a good understanding if you are holding tension through your shoulders. The other way is if you feel like you are shrugging or pulling out through the shoulders, then you know that you are actually holding a fair bit of tension in that area.

The third way is if you go running and at the end of the run, your shoulders are more fatigued than your legs. In this case there is also a fair chance that you are holding a lot of tension through the shoulders. So how do we fix this? We need to focus on where you hold your tension. So rather than just thinking relaxed, or thinking loose, we want to think about let’s switch off a particular muscle or open up that gap that you are closing.

From here we are trying to find a neutral position through the shoulders. So, just while you are standing, there are a few things you can try:

  • If you feel like your shoulder blades close or your shoulders are pulled back, let the space in the middle of your back open up, and be nice and neutral. Not to the full extent of rounding the shoulders, or collapsing through the torso, but into a neutral position with more space between the shoulder blades.
  • If you feel it in higher up on top of the shoulders or base of the neck, allow yourself to drop and open up. Just relax until you find a neutral and comfortable, relaxed position.

Then they key when you start running is to stay relaxed, and you can keep switched off through your muscles. This will allow your arms to swing freely rather than trying to swing through tension. Quite often you will fall back into the tense position when you start to get fatigued or when you start to try and run faster. From there it is a matter of being aware, recognising what it is, and switching the muscles back off again.

This is a very first look at the shoulder position and how to improve it to help your running, within The Balanced Runner program included with all of our Membership Options, there is an in-depth cue early in the program that helps you to get into the perfect shoulder position, and with common examples of what to watch out for.

It’s amazing the impact this shoulder position can have on your overall running technique and how much extra tension through the upper body can inhibit and affect your movement.

Enjoy your run!

Check out more articles, podcast appearances and running technique tips:

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