Being ‘Ready to Run’ isn’t simply setting off out the door with an iron maiden singlet and neon sweat bands — nope, some work is involved.
Yesterday I shared the first two standards: Neutral feet and flat shoes. Today it’s the thoracic spine and an efficient squatting technique.
Standard #3: A Supple Thoracic Spine
The thoracic spine (t-spine) runs through the middle of your back. Most runners concentrate on the lower body and core but apparently when it comes to maintaining a neutral, balanced running position the t-spine is key.
Many of us spend much of the day with heads down (on mobiles) and shoulders rolled forward, tightening our t-spines.
To breathe some air into your t-spine:
- Stand straight, squeeze your shoulder blades together with arms reaching up.
- Place your arms back into a neutral position with correct shoulder position
- Align your head and breathe…ahhhhh
A tight, inflexible t-spine passes tension down the all important posterior chain and the longer you go (during runs and in life) the worse it gets.
I skipped through this standard on the first read through which I think was a mistake. I am working on it now and the more I do, the more I am noticing how much work I need to do on my own alignment. This standard goes beyond running, reminding us that good posture and healthy alignment is the foundation of all mobility.
Standard #4 An efficient Squatting Technique
A deep squat requires functional hips and ankles —both prerequisites for being ‘Ready to run’.
Can you pass Standard #4?
Test #1: A single squat:
- Stand with feet just outside your shoulders (neutral or slightly open)
- Activate posterior chain (turn on arches, hamstrings, glutes, core)
- Drive knees outward (not inward)
- Drop hips slowly below plane of knees without extending your knees over the feet.
- Hang out in the squat
- Use support if you need to and take it slow at first
But, can you maintain good form when fatigued?
Test #2: ‘The Tabata Squat Test’:
- Warm up
- Do 10 correct squats in 20 seconds
- Rest 10 seconds.
- Continue for 4 minutes (80 squats)
Starett suggests videoing yourself to check form. Any squats with poor form (inward collapsing knees, knees going beyond toes or arches lifting off the ground) don’t count. It’s tough to get through the 4 minutes but completely doable — even if you don’t have a history of squatting (like me).
As well, try spending 10 minutes a day ‘relaxing’ in a squat.
There you go. Two more standards. Until tomorrow!