Tips for Proper Running Posture from National Senior Games Champion Joy Upshaw


Last Updated on July 3, 2023

Photo Credit: Dave Albo, Lane1photos

Staying physically active as we age is key to increasing our health span. Whether it’s walking, fishing, hiking, lifting weights or playing a sport, exercise can help us enjoy healthier years. Studies show that running is especially good from a cardiovascular standpoint. However, if you observe different runners, you’ll quickly realize that not everyone has the same form, which begs the question: Is running posture important? 

Growing Bolder went to an expert to help drill down on the basics of the perfect running form. In an interactive discussion airing on Facebook and Twitch, National Senior Games champion Joy Upshaw offered a demonstration of her six tips for proper running posture. 

Upshaw, 61, is a Masters Track and Field Hall of Fame member. She has won dozens of Masters World Championships in track and field, including six titles in the hurdles and relays. She has spent more than 35 years as a USATF-Certified Coach and is the founder of her own track club for boys and girls.  

Upshaw enthusiastically offered to help the Growing Bolder community set new goals of what older adults can achieve physically by raising the bar on living a healthier lifestyle that includes running. Here are Coach Upshaw’s keys to the fundamentals of running. 

Joy Upshaw
1. Stand Tall 

“A tip that helps is to think of a line going from your ear down through your shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle. Bad posture would be hunching over. We want to be nice and tall in a line.” 

Joy Upshaw
2. Bend Elbows 

“When you are starting to run, or even just walking, bend your elbows in while maintaining your good posture.” 

3. Swing Arms Forward and Back 

“Swing your arms forward and back. Don’t swing your arms side-to-side. (Imagine) you had a golden rod going horizontal through your shoulders to keep them level.” 

Joy Upshaw
4. Maintain Foot Dorsiflexion 

According to healthline, dorsiflexion is defined as “the backward bending and contracting of your foot. It occurs when you draw your toes back towards your shin.” 

Upshaw said that keeping your foot dorsiflexed is key to ensure your entire foot lands on the ground with each stride. 

“You get the most power when you are running when your foot is dorsiflexed,” Upshaw said. “My whole foot is landing flat. Not just heel, and not just tippy-toes.” 

Joy Upshaw
5. Stretch Out Your Stride 

“When you progress, stretch out your stride. Put a little bit more energy into your arms as you extend your legs, and you start to move.” 

6. Push Your Feet Through the Ground 

As Upshaw demonstrated her stride across both ends of the track, she concluded her lesson with a tip to build more power. She explained while pumping her arms more that she focuses on pushing her foot “through the ground” to increase speed.  

You can watch Upshaw’s entire running demonstration in the video below: 

 For more stories and information about the upcoming National Senior Games, click here

Growing Bolder is proud to be the official media partner for the National Senior Games Association. 

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