Runners + Breathing

August 31st, 2021


The Summer Olympics in Tokyo just ended. 

Amazing performances from so many great athletes!  From a running perspective, I thought the track and field events were fascinating!  I was amazed that nearly every Olympic runner displayed amazing stride lengths and hip drives.  They made hamstring and hip extension integration look effortless and they had the freedom of the upper trunk to rotate and use their arm drive. Those things are hard for a novice or less experienced runner to feel and integrate, which is what sparked this writing — If you want to improve your running form, maximize your speed, and minimize risk of injury – start to improve how your breath works with your core, and how your core works with your hips. Let me try to explain a bit more….

Running is a whole body sport. There is extensive tri-planar activity and muscle chains that need to be managed to allow the hips and shoulders to move in opposite directions.  How you breath and how your body rotates is extremely important for efficiency and energy management. How you breathe is also directly related to how tight your hip flexors, ITbands, back extensors and calves are – which the inflexibility in those is what limits your hip extension and how you get your legs behind your body. So if you have chronically tight hip flexors, ITbands, back extensors and calves – you know you are not breathing well with your diaphragm and instead using accessory patterns of breathing. 

Stretching and strengthening what you perceive is your weaknesses is often not enough to correct them. What’s most effective is retraining the movement patterns and identifying asymmetries that may be creating unwanted patterns of tension throughout your posture which will limit your efficiency. 

One of the biggest postural patterns that cause inefficiency for many runners is a disconnect between their hips and their torso. Many runners can’t get their hips under them to properly ground into the road to push their bodies forward, and get their legs behind them. For several different reasons, the pelvis can get posturally oriented into a chronic anteriorly tipped state, which can cause runners to over stride in front of them, pulling their body forward in their stride instead of pushing their body forward. Its why 85% of runners have tight hip flexors. That kind of running is  inefficient and exhausting. Hip flexors need to be balanced with proper hamstring strength and hamstrings work with your core to help improve your posture, and how your pelvis and torso stack in relation to each other. 

To improve the integration between the hips and torso, you can work on a few hamstrings activities along with breathing exercises. These activities will help tension melt away from your hip flexors, back extensors and calves. 


For More information please call 757.416.6700 to speak with our front desk.



Meet Julie: Owner/Founder of Thrive Proactive Health + Biomechanical Specialist 

Julie is an industry leading Sports Rehab and Postural Restoration Specialist with over 17 years of experience in the Fitness and Sports Medicine industry. She is the only Hampton Roads Therapist Certified Provider in Postural Restoration.

Through her diverse educational background and willingness to explore the unknown, Julie has developed an extensive and unique postgraduate skillset to offer you a holistic perspective on injury rehabilitation, prevention, and maintenance. Julie’s expertise bridges the gap between rehabilitation and performance. She highly values and understands the integration involved in the continuum of care associated with treating athletes and patients of all ages.