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Q&A: How Your Posture at Work Affects Your Running

Do I benefit more from sitting or standing at my desk at work, or should I aim for a mix of both? How can either one affect my training?

Standing all day is not the answer. The focus is on movement. Changing positions regularly is a good idea for office workers. Our body is not designed to be in one position all day, so a combination of sitting and standing is best.

If you have a seated workstation, it is recommended that you take a micro-break every 15-20 minutes to change the position of your chair and/or stand up for a moment. Micro-breaks have been shown to improve levels of comfort and decrease the risks of musculoskeletal injuries.

Every hour or so, you should make a larger adjustment. Get up and go to the bathroom, get a drink, walk to the printer, or talk to a colleague. You also want to make sure your computer setup is ergonomic and you are sitting in proper alignment.

If you are standing for prolonged periods of time, use anti-fatigue mats and proper footwear, and sit for rest breaks. Pay attention to the shoes you are wearing for those long stretches of time, any heels over one inch in height will change your walking pattern and standing posture significantly. Try to use supportive shoes if you have to stand all day.

The posture you sit or stand in all day will influence the posture in which you run. If you are slouching at your desk, you may wind up running hunched over, which will impact your lung capacity and running economy. Your body can adapt over time to chronic poor posture and will influence muscle activation and flexibility.

To make sure you are ready for a run after a long day of work, make sure that you re-activate some of these muscles that are underactive while sitting, such as your gluts and core, and stretch some of the muscles that are placed in a shortened position all day, such as your hip flexors and your pecs.

Whether you are sitting, standing, or using a sit/stand workstation, it is best to take breaks and move around. You do not want to sit or stand for long periods of time. And listen to your body—you want to avoid pain and discomfort so that you can feel your best when running and training. Proper posture during running is critical, so if you spend all day making these adjustments, you will better be prepared to face the demands of running.


Julia Doty and Leigh-Ann Plack

Julia Doty OTR/L, CHT is the Director of the Orthopedic Physical Therapy Center and the Hand and Upper Extremity Center at Hospital for Special Surgery. She specializes in ergonomics and has completed the Matheson ergonomics certification program. Julia has served as an on-site ergonomic consultant for a wide variety of worker populations. She is also an adjunct faculty member and instructor in the Occupational Therapy program at NYU.

Leigh-Ann Plack PT, DPT is an advanced clinician at the Hospital for Special Surgery Site Affiliated with JP Morgan Chase. She specializes in running and endurance athletes. She is a certified USA Track and Field Level 1 coach and Ironman Certified Coach. She has run nine marathons, as well as countless half-marathons and triathlons. She is currently working on her EdD in Applied Exercise Physiology at Columbia University Teachers College.


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