Whether you've been with me here on the channel before or not, you may have heard about this concept of the forward lean posture when you're running. I've talked about it before. I've talked about how to kind of get this forward lean posture going. But the question is, as it's come to light, does this increase your risk of injury?
Welcome to Runner's High, a show where we talk about everything running. I'm your host Jesse Funk also the founder of Solpri.com. And today we want to talk about forward lean posture or leaning forward while you run and your ability to stay healthy or your lack of injury or potential injury risk when you're doing this. So if you like running-related things every Tuesday and Thursday, we come out with new episodes so Subscribe. Or if you're on Instagram, you can follow us or Facebook, you can like the page or wherever it is, do the social thing. You know the deal.
So I've talked about this before. When we talk about what is good posture, what is good running posture or forward momentum posture when you're running. The idea is you have a slight lean. So if I turn to the side here, I'm straight up and down right now, which would mean when I'm running, I'm doing this motion more and more, or I'm trying to propel myself forward similarly by using my muscles. If I have a slight lean, it's a very slight lean that I can use gravity to my advantage because running becomes a controlled fall.
I would still promote a forward lean posture, forward leaning posture, with the caveat that you shouldn't spend too much time trying to lean too far forward. And the reason is there have been studies done now, and it does actually increase the risk of injury depending on how far forward you're leaning.
And the reason is that the amount of lean is dependent on your strength and your speed. So you'll notice as you go faster you will naturally kind of lean more forward. So this lesson is really the lesson about learning to lean forward is about somebody who stands straight up and down and bounces a lot or somebody who tries to lean back and run. Both of them are kind of maladaptive. So that's what we want a little bit of a lean forward.
But an easy way to illustrate this is to think about if you've ever seen somebody say running 5k, even the elites compare that to somebody running a 100-meter sprint who's leaning farther forward, clearly the sprinter. So it's based on speed as to how aggressive that angle is going to be.
What the researchers found when they put together this study was that they basically stuck a stick behind people's head to try to make them lean forward, which is a really creative way to go about forcing people to lean. But they found that the more aggressive the angle, the higher the tendency for the runner to over stride. And what is happening here and I've talked about this in other episodes as well. So again, if you've missed those, subscribe.
But I've talked about this in other episodes is when you over stride. So instead of planting right underneath you, you're planting out in front of you, you're effectively hitting your heel on the ground and creating a break. It's like it's a maladaptive situation, which it can be used in the short term, but when done with repetition can create injuries.
The really interesting and kind of cool thing about human bodies is that when things don't work right or we're not moving optimally, meaning that we're having to make some adjustment, be it from injury or a stick behind our head or running under a branch or whatever it is. We have such a wide and varied kind of movement system with our bodies that we're able to adapt.
So that over striding is an adaptation to deal with that force to lean in the study. But again, if you're doing that with repetition because it's not the best way to use your muscles for running, then you can end up with injuries and overuse. When we talk about optimal running form, we want to talk about what it means to run with efficiency or run with good running economy.
Largely, it has to do with using our major movers, which is the bigger muscles in our body to do most of the motion, the more strain and stress you put on minor movers. So in the case of our legs, hamstrings, quadriceps as the major movers, those top big, meaty parts of your legs, minor movers go down into your calves, soleus, gastrocnemius.
And then even further down we go into the weaker points, shin muscles, all those muscles and ligaments and tendons that are together in your ankle to try to help stabilize you. The more we force extra work on those smaller muscles through, say, leaning too far in this case, in this particular video, the more likely we are to end up injured.
So it makes perfect sense that if you force somebody into this kind of maladaptive behavior by sticking a stick behind their head and trying to force them to go farther forward than they really need to be, then it would increase your injury risk.
So the big takeaway from this one really is pay attention to your posture. It is important. It's best if you can get somebody to guide you through it.
So if you'd like to be a case study for this channel, I have done running video analysis before. And so if you're you want to share your running videos, leave a comment down below. We'll get in touch. We'll go back and forth. And if you'll allow me to post you as a case study on on the channel, we'll do some video analysis.
But it's important to pay attention to your running form to know that you're using your major movers, that you're not over striding, that you're doing all these things to help prevent injuries, and that through spending time, training, running, strength training, recovery, that you'll get better, and that lean will kind of come naturally as you go faster.
So you don't have to force it. You don't have to force yourself to go. Just go like a crazy amount forward. As a coach suggested to me one time, the basic way to figure this out is it's the point with which you have to catch yourself when you're standing.
So if you stand up, which I won't, because I can't with the angle of the camera, you stand up your straight forward, bring your arms up. You're just holding your arms, getting ready to go, and you begin to lean forward that point at which you have to take a step forward and grab yourself, that is where your lean is kind of maximally located.
And sometimes it's going to be a little bit more shallow and angle than that, depending on your speed. But that's a good way to get used to the feeling of just a very slight lean.
So do you have any questions for me about forward momentum posture? Do you want to do a running video analysis of yourself that you're willing to let me share here on the channel, whatever it is, leave them in the comments below, I'd love to help you out. If you want more episodes in the future, hit the subscribe button or check us out on Solpri.com/blog and I'll see you next time on the next episode of Runner's High.