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.
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Jae Gruenke, GCFP, is a running technique expert and Feldenkrais Practitioner. Known as a “running form guru,” she is the Founder and CEO of The Balanced Runner™ in New York City and The Balanced Runner UK. She has helped runners from beginner to Olympian improve their form to become pain-free, economical, and fast.