Functional Training – Learn How to Stand and Improve Your Running!

Posted on 02 July 2010

The following functional training exercise is from RaceTwitch Pro-Team member, Kata Gemes.   Kata lives in Budapest, Hungary and has extensive experience  coaching athletes with functional training programs including:   Pilates-method, yoga, body art, Berczik-method, weight training and cross training.   The coaching focus is to prevent injuries and overload.   Other aspects of her coaching include core training and general nutritional consulting based on an evolutionary views.

Why is it important to learn the mechanics of proper standing?

Because you perform this “exercise” constantly in your every day life!

If you watch people standing you can see several types of “standing styles”. Many athletes  push their belly forward or bottom backward while keep their core muscles in a relaxed position. With these positions, all the body load is on the joints, while the spine, the hip joints are in an imbalanced position. If you “practice” the “standing exercise” incorrectly, your muscles will “learn” this imbalanced position which can lead several musculoskeletal problems, like back and neck ache, scoliosis, hip problems and so on. The continuous incorrect posture will have a detrimental effect on your running! Your running will be less effective and harmful continue the unbalanced posture.

Everyone needs to learn how to stand properly to avoid injury and strengthen the proper muscles to keep your spine in a stable position and load your joints from the proper direction. Learning proper standing will help you to keep a stable core-based position while you run and help to keep the balance and will provide an effective movement.

Of course you can practice this exercise anywhere: in a bus stop waiting for a bus, standing anywhere, etc. but  first time practice it in front of a mirror until you “teach” the body the proper position.

  1. Stand with legs “closed”both feet together, and keep a relaxed position.
  2. Look down to your toes and adjust them if it necessary to keep them in a straight line.
  3. Find a point two-three meters in front of you and examine them (don’t close your eyes).
  4. Try to stretch your your toes apart and try to find the balanced position in the middle of your soles.
  5. Contract your button muscles slowly and feel as your femurs rotates outside. Try to keep this outside rotation while you relax the bottom muscles in a slightly relaxed position.
  6. Stretch your knee, but don’t overstretch them. Pull your patella toward your hip and try to keep it in this position while you relax your quadriceps.
  7. Pull your navel toward the spine, and try to relax the superficial abdominal muscles and keep a slight contraction in the deeper abdominals. This movement will adjust your pelvis in the proper position and establish the strength center or “hara”.
  8. Do a big backward circle with your shoulders then pull your chest upward while stretching down from your fingers. That movement will adjust your shoulders in the right position,  keep your shoulder blades close to each other.
  9. Stretch from the top of your head, but don’t tilt your head backward. Keep your chin toward your chest to feel some slight stretching on the back of your neck.
  10. You can slowly elevate your arms over your head and stretch from them while you pull your shoulders down and keep your shoulder blades close together. That extra stetching will help to strengthen the stabilizer muscles, but it is optional.

First time it will be difficult to monitor all these things together, but after some practices it will become automatic. The goal is to reach that awareness of the proper posture all the time in your daily life!

Wayne’s comments – This sounds basic, but stabilizing the body while standing has a direct crossover benefit to running as Kata mentions.   I started “learning” how to stand properly a few years ago and was amazed with the results – no more “slouching” and putting all the weight on one leg for me!   Using the lower abdominals and stabilizing the body will have a positive impact on your running. Pose and Chi Running  start with proper alignment and is a key ingredient in their running methods.

Leave a Reply