The Crucial Role Shoulders Play in Running
To run at max efficiency, the body and all its load-bearing joints should be aligned. Runners typically focus on range of motion in the lower body but ignore the crucial role that the shoulders play.
Running seems to be a lower body sport. Your quads take a pounding down the hill, your glutes power you up the hill, your feet carry you the distance. Runners often focus on their legs and feet, too: rolling their hip flexors, doing hamstring and calf stretches, picking the right pairs of sneakers for upticks in mileage.
But if we consider that the body’s parts—including the eight load joints (ankles, knees, hips, and shoulders)—are all interrelated and interconnected, it doesn’t make sense for runners to focus solely on their lower halves.
Pete Egoscue, Co-founder of Elev8d Fitness, argues that the shoulders are a particularly important, often ignored, load joint for runners. As it turns out, they’re integrally involved in the mechanics of running.
Think about what happens to the body when you run or walk: As your right leg goes forward (hip flexion), your left arm goes forward. As your left leg goes forward, your right arm goes forward. Leg and arm move in opposite directions, counterbalancing each other much like a seesaw.
It only makes sense that without full range of motion in both shoulders, you won’t have proper range of motion elsewhere in your body. Says Egoscue: “If you don’t establish the ability for the scapula to rotate through full range of motion in gait then you’ve restricted the ability of pelvis to give you its range, therefore you’re hindering stride length, turnover rate, and the power to accelerate.”
You might not realize it but when you want to speed up on a run, you accelerate your arm movement along with how fast you’re moving your legs.
Jeff Yorke, avid runner and manager of NRG Sports Group agrees. He uses Elev8d Fitness as a part of his training and in just the first two months, he noticed a positive impact on his running posture. “If you’re shoulders are stiff, you’re not offsetting the balance shift that’s required to run,” he explains. “Everything is connected. If someone is running well then their shoulders are relaxed but in the right place.”
By using Elev8d as a run warm-up (or cool-down), you’ll work through these complete ranges of motions in all of the eight load joints (including the shoulders) before your workout in a fast, effective manner. The result: You put the body in the best form for a strong, efficient run—head to toe.
Standing Arm Circles
1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and pointed straight ahead. With your hands, put your thumbs up, and fold your fingers forward so that the tips are on the top pads of your palms.
2. Extend your arms directly sideways, straight, point your thumbs forward, hands palms down, and pinch your shoulder blades back.
3. Move your arms up and forward in a circular motion for the allotted amount of time.
4. Next, flip your hands palms up, thumbs pointed backward, and move your arms up and backwards in circles for an amount of time equal to what you did forward.