Running Is NOT Only About The Legs

Running is not just a leg movement, it’s a whole body movement and a skill to develop and improve continuously.

Take for example the simple movement of arms and legs. Here are a couple of exercises for you to test the connection between your upper and lower body.

Exercise 1

Walk as you normally would over a 50-100m distance if you can.

Now walk exaggerating the movement of your arms and shoulders only, again 50-100m. Everything else moves normally. What are your legs and hips doing? How do you feel? Are you in control of your movement?

Now walk exaggerating the movement of your legs and hips only. What are your arms and shoulders doing? How do you feel? Are you in total control of your body?

Now walk exaggerating the movement of your arms shoulders as well as your legs and hips. Walk faster, then slower, then faster and notice how your feet are moving and are positioned with each step, notice the level of control you may or may not have and your overall coordination.

Now hold your arms tied to your body and your hands to your thighs. As you walk move your shoulder and whole arm forward. But remember the arms and hands are tied to the legs, so the whole side of the body moves forward, each side at a time

How do you feel? Do you feel your body is moving efficiently? I’m not looking for a specific answer, although you can guess that should happen. I’m interested in your becoming aware of what’s happening to and with your body.

 

Exercise 2

Here’s another example: walk with your arms behind your back.

You will probably notice that your shoulders still want, and struggle to move your arms but the arms aren’t going anywhere. It’s a struggle, you have to put in more energy than usual. If you continue walking like this at your normal walking speed you’d feel tired, more than you’d normally feel.

Notice how much effort the legs have to make to move you forward, how your core muscles do extra work trying, in vain, to move your arms.

Now release your hands and arms and walk normal. How easy is that. It’s just right, natural.

 

Do the 2 exercises above while running as well, you will see a massive difference between when using your arms and shoulders and when you don’t. Replace “walk” with “run” in the instructions.

 

Your body moves the way it moves because it was designed to move like this, this is the most efficient way to move, with the whole body as Jack Heggie says in his book Running With The Whole Body.

Yet many runners hold their arms tight to the sides. You don’t have to strain your arms and shoulders but they do have to move in co-ordination with your legs and hips.

When you move in co-ordination there is a spiralling motion in your spine. Certain muscles contract  storing energy, while opposite muscles stretch and energy is released. You run faster, easier, and, most importantly, you reduce the risk of injuries because your body will begin to move like a well oiled machine, rather than pushing, pulling, struggling and straining.

However that doesn’t mean you have to move your upper body excessively. It’s enough to release tension in your shoulders and allow the arms to move like pendulums back and forth from your shoulders, as if you are hitting someone behind you.

Keep your body moving the correct way, keep your joints as healthy and strong as you can and run for as long as you want.

Explore and develop an effortless and injury-free running style in our fast-track 4 weeks course 1-2-1. You will have videos and material after the course to help you continue to develop your running style. Want to know more? Just contact us here.

Pick Up Your Feet And Run Faster

Have you ever thought about what your feet and legs are doing when you run or even walk? Do you lift your feet off the ground, bending your legs at the knee or do you just drag them just above the ground, shuffling, one after the other?

If you have noticed your running form then you have already changed the way you run. If you haven’t now it’s the time to do so.

Watch the video below for a more detailed explanation, but in summary the reasons you should pick up your feet instead of dragging or shuffling:

Reason #1: You will run faster

Your legs are like pendulums. And like any pendulum, a long pendulum will move slower, a shorter one will move faster.

 

Reason #2: You will run more relaxed, lighter on your feet

If you pick your feet without lifting and leading with the knees you will not use the quads as much, thus you run more relaxed and with less effort. The work is done by your hamstrings and only at the start of the lift, after that your hamstrings should relax.

 

Reason #3: Reduce the risk of injuries

First of all if you drag your feet chances are you will trip or slip at some point. Pick up your feet and you reduce those chances, a lot.

Second if you drag your feet chances are you are landing in ahead of your body (instead of underneath), actively landing (driving your feet forward), heel striking and landing with a stiff leg or ankle. All this, in time, may lead to shin splints, plantar fasciitis, achilles tendonitis and then knee pain and back pain. It’s a chain reaction in fact.

So stop shuffling your legs, dragging them behind you and pick them up and bend your knee.

Remember running is a skill of movement, and art. As with anything you want to create, it will be difficult and uncomfortable at the beginning but once you get the hang of it you won’t run anymore, you will glide.

Check out the video below with this particular technical element and also this article Running Technique – Elements Of Effortless Running – Lower Body:

Running Programmes With Jorgen Welsink

As runners, if we don’t have a coach, we need to know how to train ourselves to reach the goals we have set without burning out and injuring the body.

Jorgen Welsink studied Hollistic Health Coaching / Nutrition at The Institute For Integrative Nutrition and Orthomolecular (Top)Sport Coach & Personal Health Coach at LekkerPuurLeven.

As a running coach Jorgen explains how running training programmes for marathons should be planned. Get a pen and paper because there are a lot of important points to remember and slowly introduce into your training.

We also talk about different types of running technique to reduce the risk of injuries. We talk about heel strike running and natural running technique.

Jorgen also gives us gives us his advice on how to choose your running shoes for marathon training and when. Yes, there is an ideal time of the day to buy your running shoes.

In terms of recovery during training and after your marathon Jorgen shares with us his advice on nutrition, sleep and training for recovery.

In terms of nutrition we talked about how running gels work, carbohydrate loading and how to build a fat burning instead of a sugar burning body.

Links mentioned in the video:

www.iherb.com

Celtic salt

Smoothie with pea protein

 

Make your own running gels

Pineapple-orange chia energy gel
Orange-Pineapple Chia Gel Nutrition DataIngredients:

1 oz chia seeds
1 medium seedless orange
8 oz pineapple
¾ cup brown rice syrup
½ oz dry fruit pectin
1 serving electrolyte mix (above)
Mix the chia seeds with ⅜ cup of water. Stir until the chia gels thoroughly, then set aside.

Peel the orange, removing as much of the pith as possible. Combine the orange and the pineapple, including the juice, in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.

Combine ½ cup of the fruit mash with the hydrated chia. It’s normal to have extra fruit mash (I had ¾ cup left over). You can freeze it until you need to make another batch of gel.

Stir in the brown rice syrup, then slowly add the pectin. Finally, stir in the electrolyte mix.

Put the mixture in a small saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil over low to medium heat, stirring constantly. Let the mixture boil for 1 minute, then remove it from the heat and pour it directly into a sterilized ½ pint mason jar for storage.

 

 

Running Technique – Elements Of Effortless Running – Lower Body

Any books you read on running technique which has the potential to reduce the risk of injuries have a few common elements. Each technique or style of running (i.e. Chi Running, Pose Method, Natural Running) has its own particular elements that sets it aside from the others, however they all state that to run with less effort and fewer injuries a runner should:

 

1. Land with the foot underneath the body 

That means DO NOT land ahead of your body because you overstride, break your momentum and increase impact. When you overstride you also have to power up by re-engaging the back muscle chains to start a new stride. More effort, more muscle tension, more impact, higher risk of running injuries.

If you can see your feet when you run (by looking down with your eyes and head, not by bending your whole body) it’s a sign you are probably overstriding, landing heavily in front of your body.

Bouncing up and down too much can be another sign. Usually, if you land under your General Centre of Mass you won’t bounce, you will move smoothly, almost like gliding.

This will also help reduce the rotational forces in the joints which lead to overuse injuries in the ankles, knees, hips, spine.

 

2. Lean the body from the ankles

This is an up-right, slightly forward leaning from the ankles, correctly aligned posture. Let gravity do the work instead of using your muscle strength.

 

3. Strike the ground with a midfoot strike

Another common element is the midfoot strike. If you land under your general centre of mass and use gravity to move forward there is no way you will do a heel strike. You will automatically go into a midfoot-forefoot strike.

That being said make sure you don’t run on your toes. You land on the balls of your feet and then allow the heels to touch the ground slightly. That’s it.

If, when you run, you listen closely you can tell whether you land with the ball of the foot. You will hear a “tap” and then you will feel the heel touching the ground. If you hear a “punding” that’s heavy landing and probably heel striking.

If you think about it pretty much all sports require a midfoot or forefoot body weight distribution: dancing, skiing, martial arts free sparring, even tennis. Look at the footwork in this tennis match, just the first 10 seconds.

 

4. Pick up the feet

Your feet are like pendulums. A long pendulum will move slower, a shorter one will move faster. So stop shuffling your legs, dragging them behind you, instead pick them up and bend your knee. 

5. Aim for optimum cadence 

Running cadence is measured by the number of strides per minute that each leg takes. The optimum running cadence is considered to be 85 to 90 strides per minute. 

If you do all of the above then you can maintain the optimum cadence.

However you have to build up gradually to this cadence if it’s not your normal. Then you keep that cadence all the time and use the lean and picking up your feet to move faster. In Chi Running you also increase the strides to increase speed. But you move faster because you lean more and relax your legs more not because you are using muscle power. You should not put effort to increase your strides, it will happen as you lean more. But first master the lean.

Running After Knee Injury – Testimonial Client Experience

Mariepaule had a really bad knee injury. She did the therapies recommended and got the OK. Then she came to work with Alexandra.

Through consistent running technique and natural movement practice, coaching and practicing by herself, Mariepaule recovered nicely and managed a 2 day walk, 2nd day combined with running.

 

This is what we look at on the Running Technique Workshop. Of course, changing the way you move and use your body takes time, but on the workshop you will leave with a few concepts that, if used, can make a huge difference.

While same results cannot be guaranteed, with practice, natural running technique will help you run faster, further, with less effort and fewer injuries.

Book your spot for the next workshop in East London, Canada Water.

Managing Psoas Imbalance in Athletes with Sports Massage

The human body is the best working machine there is; however, many are guilty of not operating it properly. One of the most common results of improper use and maintenance of the body is psoas imbalance, which is evident through an imbalanced body posture.

But it is not just that the body looks lopsided; another issue with psoas imbalance is that it comes with physical discomforts.

 

What is the psoas muscle?

psoas_muscle

This is the most essential muscle group in the body. It allows you to bend and flex your trunk so you can haul your body off the bed every day. This muscle group can be found in your core and the muscles are connected from the 12th thoracic vertebra to the L5 lumbar vertebra, through the pelvic region and femurs. Basically, they are the only muscles that run from the spine down to the legs.

Psoas muscles also help protect the internal organs and contribute to your psychological health.

 

What causes the imbalance?

When the psoas is constantly contracted due to stress, or when you often sit for a long time, work out intensely regularly, sleep in a curled position, or even perform a number of crunches and sit-ups, an imbalance happens.

The surrounding muscles compensate for the compromised condition of the psoas and the pull of tight psoas muscles can make one leg shorter than the other, create a significant sway back posture, posterior tilt to the pelvis for some, and pains.

 

Why do athletes suffer from it?

If you are an athlete — say, you are a runner, a cyclist or a martial artist — there are movements that cause great strain on your iliopsoas muscles, the primary connectors between your torso and legs. When you run and do not shift your weight properly, or you spend hours bent forward to stay balanced on your bike, or you favour a leg for kicking when you do martial arts, your psoas muscles can spasm, tighten and weaken resulting in an imbalance.

 

Physical discomforts due to psoas imbalance

When the psoas muscles are weak and tight, sharp pains can accompany these discomforts and you can feel them in the following areas:

  • Groin
  • Hip or pelvic area (if a psoas imbalance is not treated properly and right away, the pain in this area may lead to the loss of hip joint cartilage and labrum tears of the hip joint)
  • Belly
  • Lower back — right at the waist and the knees (especially when the leg is lifted)

 

Other discomforts you may experience due to psoas imbalance are:

  • Constipation
  • Dysmenorrhea/menstrual cramps
  • Shallow breathing (which means that the body many not be taking in enough oxygen)
  • Easy exhaustion (difficulty in breathing and pressure on the internal organs can make a lot of movements physically draining)

Sports Massage is one treatment option for psoas imbalance that may be considered.

 

Managing psoas imbalance in athletes

According to a study published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, psoas imbalance or syndrome can be easily missed during diagnosis because its symptoms are similar to other conditions.

Thus, the first step toward managing and treating psoas syndrome is getting the correct diagnosis.

The treatment and management of the psoas muscle can be divided into three phases: the acute, recovery and maintenance phases.

 

Acute phase

Your main goals here are to reduce the symptoms you are experiencing (including spasms, swelling and pain) and to restore a sense of normalcy to your daily living. In order to achieve both goals, you may need to combine medication with lots of rest, gentle stretching and the application of an ice pack.

At this stage, it is crucial to avoid activities that can further stress the affected muscles. Stretching should be done gently and must be avoided after the application of cold compress.

 

Psoas muscle rehabilitation

The primary goal of rehabilitation is to restore the normal range of motion, strength, endurance and other activities specific to your sport. This can be achieved through stretching and exercise.

At this stage, you can also begin a resistance training program using weights or resistance bands. For endurance, you have to work your way slowly using exercises like cycling and stair climbing on a machine using a low volume of resistance.

psoas-muscle-stretch

 

Maintenance

During the maintenance phase, your main goal would be to strengthen the muscles affected by psoas syndrome in order to boost performance. At this point, you can perform the exercise you did during the rehabilitation phase and combine these with exercises that target the hamstrings and iliopsoas. Resistance should be increased every third or fourth workout.

You can facilitate faster recovery by cross-training in other sports including skating, cycling and dancing.

 

Preventing psoas musle weakness while boosting performance

Apart from preventing psoas syndrome, strengthening the muscle group can lead to enhanced athletic performance.

Exercises like leg lifts, hanging leg lifts, low lunges, v-sits, bridges and reverse planks may be performed before your main workout or after it.

 

Incorporating sports massage

If you are suffering from a psoas imbalance, you cannot opt for traditional massage therapy. Most therapists cannot target the affected muscles because of their location, and are unaware of the proper techniques required in working on the psoas.

Therapists that specialise in sports massage in London can help relieve tension in the psoas muscle while aiding in the increase of flexibility and restoration of movement by utilising specialised techniques.

The psoas muscle is crucial not only for sports but also for the movements required for most daily activities. Therefore, it is essential that this muscle group is strengthened and stretched. If you experience any of the symptoms associated with psoas syndrome, consult a physical therapist or qualified massage therapist to help fix the problem.


About the AuthorMassage-Therapist-London-Ben-Pianese.

Ben has been a practical pain management trainer and a celebrated massage therapist. He believes human well-being is deeply connected to the health of mind and body both, including deep tissues.

He holds numerous certifications for best of breeds massage techniques helping him on a mission for healthy London and then rest of the world. He has been an active contributor in massage technique research and on Massaggi blog.


 

Workout In Your Daily Routine – Stairs

Enough with the boring going up and the down the stairs, or even taking time out of your busy schedule to plan your workout.

To work your body throughout the day, every time you go up the stairs, at the top DO A PRESS-UP. Every time you go down the stairs, at the top DO A PRESS-UP.

Depending on your level of fitness and time, you can do more than 1 of course. But if you are at the beginning of your journey, it’s enough to start with one.

Lose weight, tone your body and enjoy.

Complexity Of Movement Enhances Your Problem Solving Skills

Complexity-Of-Movement-Enhances-Problem-Solving-Skills

The more complex the movement it the more your brain develops,  enhancing your brain-body communication and coordination. What that means for you?

 

Everyday you perform complex tasks that requests a lot of back and forth communication between your brain and all other areas of your body, inside and out. Some of them we are conscious of, others are automatic and beyond out control.

 

Improving the communication brain-body mean you will handle these tasks more effectively and efficiently, with less risk of damaging your body. Complex movements involve using several muscles and joints in an exercise (i.e. squats or lunges).

 

But there is more than the physical. The more complicated the movement is (and now I mean more than how many muscles and joints are involved, but complicated movement) the more focus, thought and problem solving skills you have to put into it.

 

Just like a muscle your focus and problem solving skills will improve as you master movement, or Body Mastery as I call it. And where do you think you will use these? In your life, your job, as a mother or father, passing these skills on to your children.

 

You see, what you do in training is not, or shouldn’t be, only about fitness and health, as we see them from the outside. It has ramifications throughout your life and impacts the lives of the people around. We must look and develop beyond the surface, if we are to be motivated and consistent in anything we do.

 

Unleash Your Physical Potential 12 Weeks Programme was created to develop these skills, and many others. Sure, it involves physical development – improving your fitness, stamina, strength – then we also have nutrition. But beyond the surface there is much more going on, you develop the skills, discipline, perseverance and focus you will always need no matter what you do in life or who you are.

 

The online programme is very complex, but I have structured it in such a way so you can take small bites and learn complex movements step by step. After 12 weeks of guidance from me, and another 12 weeks developing by yourself (there are 2 parts on the programme) you will have gained a tremendous amount of knowledge and several training routines, to develop the body and mind.

 

WHO IS IT FOR

There are 2 groups of people who’d benefit from this programme:

1. Those getting back into fitness or getting into fitness and want to do it the right way

2. Those already fit but with the desire to learn more, develop new skills, improve performance, and learn new exercises and techniques.

 

Have a look at the programme, sign up for a plan, and let’s take your health, fitness and life to the next level. Unleash Your Physical Potential

The Best Exercise For Your Triceps

The-Best-Exercise-For-Your-Triceps

Have you ever thought whether there is a different exercise out there, more interesting and less boring than the usual diamond pressups and triceps extension? Among the best arm workouts you can do is this funny looking exercise, which uses only your own body weight? Yeah, you hear me right, I am an advocate of body weight training. That’s because for the majority of people, body weight training is enough and it can be progressed and regressed.

Furthermore if you practice this triceps exercise you not only tone your triceps bu you also:

  • improve your posture (probably the number 1 benefits of this triceps exercise in my opinion)
  • strengthen your core muscles (abdominal muscles, side of the abdomen, back muscles, hips and diaphragm)
  • protect your lower back and reduce the risk of low back pain (for many people standing exercises or pressups and planks can be detrimental if they do not have good core control and body awareness; problem solved with this triceps exercise)
  • stabilize your shoulder joint (stronger in a safer way)
  • stretching and opening up the chest and shoulders
  • shoulder mobility
  • mobility in wrists and ankles
  • finger strength (particularly if you practice on uneven terrain, such as the outdoors)

What does all this mean to you? It means you can have a toned, strong, fit, healthy and truly powerful body in a safer way (this is key). Well….you must do other exercises of this type as well, do develop the body all round.

When I say “of this type” I mean exercises that work more than just big muscles in the body, think about posture, fingers, toes, mobility, flexibility and much more.

Remember, you are as strong as your weakest link.

That’s why I believe this is triceps exercise is among the best out there. One that enables you to strengthen your body in a safer way than other methods.

Here’s a video we made at one of The MTI Online Academy : The Crab Walk or Inverted Crawl.

 

 

How To Make Your Morning Exercise Routine More Interesting And Fun

How To Make Your Morning Exercise Routine More Interesting And Fun

Here’s a method which will help you get out of monotony, make exercising more fun and different and reduce bias in the choice you make when you choose your exercise.

We unconsciously do more of the things we are good at and which we love. This means progress slows down to the point where we make very little progress. When you have a Personal Trainer or a Coach, they will give you exercises you are not good at, but when you have to choose alone we tend to be biased without realizing.

So here’s a way to solve this problem and to also make things more interesting. This is not a method of training to get results though. If your training needs set repetitions and sets, a certain structure, then this is not going to work. But it will make things different.