This is a bit of a sensitive subject for me, but I feel it is my civic and social duty to impart my wisdom on all who will hear it. It is a problem many of us who are graced with additional weight we’d like to do away with will face. It is… Jiggle. Yup, that’s right. I’m talking about what our extra portions of cake, pudding, tacos, pizza, etc cause our bodies to do when we are active.
As already noted, I’m particularly sensitive to this subject as I was an avid runner back in the day, but I wasn’t always. Prior to starting to run, I was at my worst, around 260+ lbs. I decided the best way to lose weight was to enter into a 1/2 marathon race. After 15 or so races and several thousand miles of pounding the pavement I think I can consider myself somewhat of an expert on being an overweight runner. Much of my running career was spent over 200 lbs, so this advice is for those of us who cannot stand the feeling of our bodies jiggling while we run.
Disclaimer!!!! I want everyone to know, I share this information as both humor, and as an actual piece of advice that all runners, be they large or small can use. I mean no offense to anyone, I simply am sharing my own personal self-conscious issues that I applied a theory to that resolved my insecurities.
2nd DISCLAIMER!!! This one is more important than the first. You must know, if you are self-conscious about running or being active. If you’re insecure about your body, know this. Nobody is looking at you and judging you. More often than not, it’s simply because I have chosen to judge myself that I feel I am being judged by others. Yeah, from time to time there’s a jerk out there, but you know what screw them. They’re not important, you are.
Ok, so let’s get going and answer this all too important question. How do I reduce my body jiggle when I’m jogging? Is this real?
Here is what specifically worked for me and I’ll explain them further after.
- Take longer strides when you jog
- Don’t run on the balls of feet
- Create a consistent breathing pattern
- Run tall, run with good posture
Let’s take a look at why these four rules can help. Mind you, these are some good tenets of good running whether you’re overweight and running or not.
This is probably the most important rule I always run by. Longer strides do many things to decrease the jiggle, but the most obvious is if you’re taking longer strides, you’re also taking less strides. Less strides means you’re hitting the ground less often. The jiggle we feel is almost entirely caused by our feet hitting the ground, reduce the number of times that happens, and boom, your body will jiggle less. It will also reduce the overall amount of energy you expel because less strides equals less motion required to move the same distance. For a long distance runner, I recommend you learn to regulate your stride length and change your stride length from time-to-time during a long run. This allows certain muscles to get a slight rest while you work other more rested muscles. Then you can switch back and forth.
Running on the balls of your feet is fine for a short sprint, but for longer distances you’re going to want your foot to fall more so in a rocking fashion from the front of your heel, then rocking forward to the ball of your foot. This creates a well cushioned foot fall to the ground. You’d almost feel as though you’re gliding along instead of clomping along. If you couple this with your longer stride, you’ve almost entirely reduced the jiggling of your body with these two rules. Now, for those of you unsure of this, let me tell you, if you stop running on the balls of your feet, you’ll probably reduce the shin splints you get, to none, to barely any. Shin splints (the pain you feel in your shins) often happens because the force of your foot hitting the pavement right at the ball of the foot goes straight to the shin. If you even out the blow of your foot hitting the ground into a rocking motion allows the foot to dissipate the force more evenly among the entire foot, and doesn’t resonate nearly as much of that force up your leg.
Breathing is obviously very very important. Your body needs to replenish the oxygen it uses while you run. When you create a consistent breathing pattern you are controlling not only your lungs, but the muscles around your lungs, and your legs and your arms etc. Control equals discipline. Discipline means you’re not thinking about things you shouldn’t. Yeah, I’m basically recommending a mind trick, but a good breathing pattern is really just a good running technique to get the most oxygen into your body in the most consistent way possible. My pattern is this (hopefully it will translate well to text).
This indicates when the foot is hitting the ground
Left Foot (breathe out) > Right Foot > Left Foot (breath in) > Right Foot > Left Foot (breath out) > Right Foot
I’ve used this exact breathing technique for over a decade and it has been crucial to my ability to run long distances. The key is not on the breath in, but on the breath out. My out breathes occur as my left foot hits the ground. Why? When my foot hits the ground gravity is making everything in my body drop towards the ground as well, this forces my lungs to shift down just a little, which means when I breath in, I can bring just a hair more oxygen into my lungs than I would have otherwise. This means I get more oxygen, so my muscles get more and my body is happier. The overall cadence of the breathing provides a consistent supply of much needed oxygen to my body which means I feel less out of control. I feel less anxiety, and I’m less likely to cramp or have a side ache.
Finally, stand tall when you run. Run like you mean it. Run like you’re not tired, even if you are. Why is this important? Yes, it’s also a mental trick, but also, when you run with good posture, your body does less work, and you use less energy. If your body is moving less, you’re going to jiggle less right? Yup. Not only that, but because long distance running is such a big mental endurance battle, if you force yourself to look like you’re not tired, you will be less tired. Mind over matter. So often I’ve seen people who look like they’re in better shape than me start a race with bad slouchy tired looking form and they just can’t do it. They start with a tired mindset. You’re setting yourself up for failure. Run tall (not totally straight up and down), run like you mean it. Run like you’re trying to get somewhere. Even if you have to lie to yourself about how tired you are.
I get that the premise of this post is a bit ridiculous, and I also get that many people (myself included) wouldn’t consider me a running expert, but here’s where the foot meets the pavement. Until I hurt my foot a couple years ago, these were all very important principles I lived by when I would train for and run a race and they all worked. I had self-image problems. I hated that my body jiggled, and until I lost the weight, I needed something to reduce that jiggle as it was killing my mindset when I would run. Go on Youtube and find videos that show good running technique and have a friend or loved one watch it with you. Record yourself running and compare it to these videos. It’ll change your life, or at least your PR at the end of a race.
Good luck everyone and I’m sorry if I offended someone because I wrote “Jiggle” too many times. 🙂