Why Can’t You Lean Forward When You Run?

If you know you should be leaning forward but you just can’t seem to make it happen, you’re not alone! There are a lot of reasons why you may be struggling with your lean: tight calves, stiff core, not knowing what to do with your head…but a common factor that goes overlooked is short, tight lower abdominal muscles preventing you from lengthening your back and tilting your pelvis forward.

Without a forward (or anterior) pelvic tilt, there is no forward lean. But either consciously or unconsciously you may be trying to prevent that pelvic tilt.

In fact, many running form experts recommend tightening your abs–particularly the lower abdomen, supposedly to control your lean and keep from arching your back. Sitting long hours at a desk, in a car, or on a bike will also have this effect of tucking your pelvis and shortening the tissues (muscle and connective tissue) of your lower abdomen.

This pulls your back backwards and, overall, your trunk upright. It also makes you run with your legs in front of you, which is really hard on your feet, knees, and ambition, since you won’t be able to run very fast like that.

In this video I demonstrate how all of that works and show you a special way to breathe that will help unlock your lower abdomen and hip flexors so you can more easily lean forward, lengthen your stride, and run easier and faster.

Get the lessons I recommend in the video here:

To learn more about leaning forward and troubleshoot your own lean beyond what I've covered here, check out the playlist of my forward lean videos here.

2 thoughts on “Why Can’t You Lean Forward When You Run?”

  1. Every runner leans forward, in some way, during the driving phase of each foot. If not, our little legs would scuttle in front of our bodies, and we’d fall over backwards. We can’t avoid the lean, and we do it naturally, to stay in balance at the speed we are running. Faster = more lean. It’s true that if you lean forward you’ll have to go faster to prevent a fall, but you’ll only succeed if your heart, lungs, muscles are up to it.
    Where/how you do the lean is important for running effiency, but no runner can avoid it, and we do it without thinking…

    • Andrew, you’d be surprised. I see a great deal of fully upright running, especially among those who’ve been told that’s the correct way to run. It takes a lot of work and hurts your performance (and often your knees) but a determined runner can do it.


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