Mobilising The Upper Back

Shoulder and Back Mobility For Runners
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shoulder and back mobility for runners

How are you accessing this blog? Smart phone? Tablet? Laptop? Desktop? Whichever device you’re using, you are probably slouching with a bent neck. Unfortunately the modern lifestyle means we spend a lot of time with hunched shoulders and poor back posture which translates poorly into our running form and our shoulder and back mobility. Here’s why we need to mitigate against this so our running doesn’t suffer.

What Do We Mean By Shoulder And Back Mobility?

Mobility is the range of motion you have a in a particular muscle group and the control you have over that motion. Mobility in the shoulders and back means how easily you adapt their positions to different situations. For example, you might spend some time being slouched over whilst washing up or cycling; with good mobility you’ll be able to get your shoulders and back effortlessly and painlessly into an upright running posture. Triathlon requires competitors to move quickly from cycling to running; I’ve no idea which sport requires competitors to move quickly from washing up to running, but you get the idea!

Why Is Shoulder And Back Mobility Important For Runners?

You may well ask this: You’re not a gymnast or even a golfer! Surely leg mobility is more important to runners! Of course, this is true. However, your left leg works in harmony with your right arm and your right leg works with your left arm. The range of motion of your arm is dependent on the mobility of your shoulders and upper back. If your arms barely move whilst you run, it’s probably because you have poor upper body mobility.

The lower back takes some pounding when people run and this can sometimes lead to pain in this area. This is often due to the runner’s poor posture in everyday life and their inability to then straighten their back when running.

What Are The Benefits Of Working On Shoulder And Back Mobility?

Better shoulder and back mobility means you’ll be more likely to be able to adopt the upper body posture I wrote about in this blog post on the upper body in running. The more power and momentum you can generate with your upper body, the faster you will run.

Think about a run you’ve done where your legs felt fine but you just couldn’t get going and you couldn’t put your finger on why: maybe it was because your upper body was stiff or tense. Your body should work in harmony when you run. Greater upper body mobility means greater lower body mobility – this means a longer, easier stride.

What Are The Potential Risks Of Poor Shoulder And Back Mobility For Runners?

I know I’ve banged on a lot about the poor posture of people today, but that’s really at the heart of the back and shoulder issues runners have. The spine is designed to be bent in both directions. Due to our obsession with mobile internet devices, our comfy sofas which encourage slouching, and even the fact that everyday activities like ironing and cooking require us to bend our necks, our upper body mobility is reduced and we transfer this poor posture to running. The pounding of running then overloads the spine and runners can experience pain.

It’s a similar situation with the arms – if you spend all day at a PC, or even driving, with your arms in front of you, they get used to being in that position and then asking them to move back and forth when you run becomes more difficult. This is why you need to mobilise your shoulders and back.

what you need to know
  • Slouching over laptops, bending our necks to look at phones and even washing up and cycling will negatively impact our running form if we have poor shoulder and back mobility

  • Mobility is the range of motion we have in a group of muscles and the control we have over that motion

  • Good upper body mobility will give you more momentum and a longer, easier stride

  • Poor upper body mobility can lead to pain and a poor running posture, which will make you slower, and make you look worse in race photos!

Want To Improve Your Shoulder & Back Mobility?

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