Neck Alignment Exercise
Is the positioning of your head, neck and shoulders important to running? A lot of people might be quick to assume that the head, neck, and shoulders are only marginally involved when you’re running. But that’s just not the case. The position of your head, neck and shoulders has a great influence on how you run and how you move in general.
The Top Down Approach
I remember watching this one street performer in New York’s Central Park. Perhaps you’ve seen him too – he’s the guy who balances a slew of chairs on top of one another until they look like a tree blossoming and it’s all possible because of geometric alignment. And in some ways, the design of our bodies looks kind of like this.
Our bodies have a unique design to it that is unlike all other creatures. We stand on two feet, also known as bipedal. And we expend less energy than every other creature that is positioned on four feet or more. This biomechanical designed was advantageous to the survival of our species. And it’s something author Chris McDougal spends a fair amount of time talking about in his book, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen. In the book, he discusses the unique ability of early humans to hunt by outrunning their prey based on our bipedal alignment. He attests that four-legged animals would over heat as they fled from humans and eventually succumb to capture as we were able to run further and expend less energy.
The secret is in our alignment. And it starts with the position of our head.
The Forward Head
Unfortunately for our biomechanics, we live in a world where we sit often and constantly respond to an environment overloaded with stimulation. This phenomena is the recipe for the “Forward Head” as our eyes and ears race to make sense of the digital or real stimulates as our hips and spine slowly fall asleep in a chair. Altogether, this leads to compensation patterns in our movement, more precisely, our head and neck begin to protract forward beyond their natural alignment and the rest of the body pays the price.