Running Technique – Body Position For Optimum Performance

Running Technique-Body-Position-For Optimum-Performance

When it comes to runners who clock miles and miles every week on a regular basis attention and care needs to be directed to how they run  so they don’t get put off training for stress fractures, ankle sprains, knee injuries, shin splints, Achilles problems, back pain, or anything else we runners face. Of course nothing is guaranteed, but the more you look at how you run the less injuries and time of training you will have to ensure.

I have the habit of giving you a lot, a lot of information, and very detailed. I do this because I hope you will take 20% of what you read. Sometimes even that 20% is better than nothing.

That being said let’s talk about how you position your body to enable you to glide over the terrain, rather than stomping. And we begin with…:

A. ALIGN

This is a good exercise to practice before you go for a run. It’s connects you to your own body. With practice you will gradually bring it into your run.

A good alignment means you are “stacking” the body in the correct position, and, if you manage to maintain that your run will feel amazing. Trust me, it will. When it clicks, it clicks.

The pressure on your joints will be at angles that don’t cause so much damage. Of course, it’s impossible to keep your body stiff in one position, but try as often as you remember to align and re-align. Also, remember, good alignment means a relaxed body, if you tense up you can do more harm. So relax and go through the exercise below.

  1. Stand with feet hip width apart
  2. Toes pointing forward
  3. Distribute your weight evenly on the left and right foot
  4. Distribute your weight evenly on the front (ball of food) and back (heel) of each foot left – keep the left/right weight distribution while doing so
  5. Soften your knees; don’t bend them too much, just lock them and then relax, you are not doing a squat
  6. Lightly tuck in your tailbone (this will also allow the knees to soften) so that, if your pelvis was a bucket of water, you wouldn’t spill water in any direction; your abdominal muscles should tense slightly and your lumbar spine should flatten slightly. These are signs you are probably in a good position. It should feel comfortable
  7. Your hip should be in line with the back of your knee cap, and in line with your ankles, roughtly
  8. Relax your shoulders and align them with your hips which is aligned with your ankles
  9. Chin parallel to the ground
  10. Head slightly pushed back until you feel the back of your neck lengthening, releasing tension and the natural curve flattening slightly
  11. Ears aligned with the shoulders

You can maintain this alignment at any angle. If you lean your body from your ankles everything is still aligned. If you lie on the floor your body is still in the same alignment. But if you stick your bum out, pull your head back or turn your toes out that’s when, in time, things start to go wrong and injuries begin to show up.

 

 

B. ELONGATE

This is a simple imagination exercise, or visualization if you wish.

Holding the body in alignment as above, imagine a piece of string tied to the crown of your head and to the ceiling, a branch or the sky above you.

Imagine how this piece of string elongates your body towards the sky. Keeping its shape and alignment though

You can begin to elongate the ankles, the shins, up into the knees, through the thighs, to the hips.

Then elongate your trunk and ribs. You shouldn’t lean back, push your chest out, pull your shoulder blades together or do anything else. Just imagine. There’s no point lengthening the front of your body while tension and shortening the back by pulling your shoulders back.

Then relax your shoulders, keep the alignment, elongate your neck and head – take care not to tilt your head back here.

Then imagine the piece of string and your vertebrae like beads on a string. Allow each vertebra to pop up, away from the one below it, and then lightly stack up on top of each other. Go from the tailbone/coccyx all the way to the neck/cervical spine and up through the crown of your head towards the sky.

You can practice this as a stand alone meditation. It will help improve your posture as well as slowly making its way into your running posture and to a better performance.

 

C. LEAN

After you practice a good alignment while standing and in movement and elongate the body, the next step is to practice a slight lean. The lean should be from the ankles, as described in the POSE Method of Running, and, on a flat ground it’s a matter of millimeters.

Remember, the key is: lean should be from the ankles, not bending from the hips. You can work this out in front of a mirror.

One of the greatest mistakes I see is bending from the hips. This is very very common, so take care, especially when you run uphill. You can easily end up with low back pain and not even make it up that hill.

Some argue the lean is not the way to go. I argue it is for at least 3 reasons:

  1. For your feet to land under the hip, in alignment with the rest of the body, the hip should be slightly ahead…..which is achieved through that slight lean.
  2. Pushing off and active landing are actually very very strenous. When you land under the body, and you do this by leaning from the ankles, you can pick up the feet and control the landing.
  3. Free energy! That’s gravity. It’s so much easier to “fall” forward than to push your body forward over and over again. Let gravity take over! It saves a lot of energy and you end up running faster, as you pick up you feet faster, as a result of landing under the body and not ahead, as a result of that slight lean.

I found this exercise in Chi Running by Danny Dreyer, which is really easy to practice.

  1. Stand in front of a table, about hip height, about 2 feet away (you will adjust after)
  2. Align your body, like a column
  3. Elongate your body
  4. Lightly tens your abdominal muscles
  5. Now lean from the ankles until you can rest your hip, or pelvis, on the side of the table
  6. Keep the column straight though, even at an angle
  7. Hold the position

You will notice how much your abdominal muscles contribute to this position, as it should when you run. This lean is a lot more than what you normally need, but if you exaggerate the lean when you practice you will do it just right when you’re out there running.

Here is a video talking about the lean as well.

That’s it for today. I wanted to write a short article but it ended up a pretty long one. Just take one exercise at a time. Print this page if you wish and practice each exercise for 1 week. You will transform your running.

Need help? I have a few ways to help you with this. One is a 4 weeks course where you go through ALL the running elements. This course can also be done in 2 weeks. Or, if you aren’t close by, I do have a series of coaching videos you can learn from, a running academy. Another option is online coaching. So there are solutions. Thus give a shout if you need help with this. If not, I’m looking forward to hearing how you implemented these exercises and how they worked out for you.

Running Effortlessly Using Gravity

runinng-effortlessly-using-gravity-running-technique-style-alexandra-meri

When it comes to running lighter and with less effort one of the most important lessons I’ve learnt from my coach is to use gravity – free energy. And that’s one of the lessons Pose Method of running teaches as well.

In this video I explain and also show you how to use gravity, but to have it in writing the idea is that:

To avoid pushing off, which created pressure on the body and joints, you want to learn forward from the ANKLES

Avoid bending from the hips; body has to learn as a whole, as a plank, from the ankles; it’s a FREE FALL feeling (i.e. falling on your face)

Keep the feet under the body; if your foot goes ahead of the body you will stop your free fall and will experience a lot of pressure on the joints, especially knees

This article and video links to the previous article and video on How runners damage their knees.

If you wish to know more about our dedicated Running Technique Workshops and Classes in London and Surrey email support@themtechnique.com or fill in the form below the video and we will reply within 2 working days.

 

If you wish to know more about our dedicated Running Technique Workshops and Classes in London and Surrey email support@themtechnique.com or fill in the form below the video and we will reply within 2 working days.

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Running Technique – Running And Lower Back Pain

running-technique-running-lower-back-pain

Lower back pain is very common and many cases are due to poor use of the body (i.e. poor alignment, posture, weak key muscles).

If you are running with lower back pain you should consider finding the source of your pain before you continue. While there are many reasons your lower back pain may hurt, such as weak core muscles or gluteal muscles, there can also be reasons related to your running technique, the mechanics side of running.

In the video I mention 3 aspects of the running technique that may contribute to your lower back pain.

1. THE HEAD

The head should not be tilts forwards or backwards. Instead is should be aligned with the shoulders, hips and front of ankles.

2. THE SHOULDERS

Shoulders should not go out of alignment with the ears and hips. Crossing the arms in front of your body will pull your shoulders forward, closing up your body, and causing your body to lose posture and good form.

3. THE HIP

a. The Bucket of Water

Imagine your hip joint like a bucket of water. In its strongest, stable and aligned position it is slightly tilted forward. However, the tendency is to tilt the hips too much forward (spilling water forward out of the bucket) or tilt backwards (spilling water backwards).

Keep the hip join in a position where you don’t spill water, neither forward, or backwards.

b. Heel strike

Heel striking when running is the perfect way to tilt the hips forward and throw them out of alignment. This put a lot of pressure on your lower back and makes the whole chain become unstable and weak.

 

Watch the video below and if you wish to attend our dedicated running workshops email support@themtechnique.com

Running Technique – Body Alignment And How It Affects Performance

Posture and body alignment are 2 topics you will hear me speak about very often. Why? Because a body out of alignment is weak. In the video I used 3 pots to make my point.

If any part of the body is out of alignment the body is an unstable and weak position. That being said the body is a moving system, so there will be movement, you cannot stiff up when you run either. However, movement and misalignment are different.

 

The correct body alignment, even if you lean slightly from the ankles (using gravity for forward movement) your body should be aligned, possibly at an angle, this way:

Imagine a STRAIGHT LINE from EAR to SHOULDER to HIP to ANKLE (in front of the ankle). 

That is what you want to keep throughout your run, walk, and pretty much anything you do. Again, there will be a slight movement of the joint, obviously, because the body is not glued together. In the same time you also need to relax. Having good alignment by stiffening the body will not be any better.

Sure your head won’t fall off as in the video, however you can clearly see how unstable the body is when out of alignment. When the body is unstable muscles will compensate for others which are not doing their job, joints will be put through more pressure than needed, injuries may take place in time and energy will be wasted.

Check out the video below and if you wish to attend our running workshops email support@themtechnique.com

Shoulder, Neck And Back Pain – Why You Are In Pain

Shoulder-Neck-And-Bacak-Pain-Why-You-Are-In-Pain

This is probably one of the most common reasons we experience shoulder, neck or back muscle pain.

Your body always tries to bring itself back into alignment. When you look at your phone, walking down the street typing, hunching over your computer, or simply walking or running bending from the hips, you back muscles will activate, or engage to pull the body back into alignment.

If the body doesn’t come back into alignment, those muscles stay activated and, in time, this is what leads to muscle strain.

Watch the video below , leave comments, ask questions, share with everyone and if you need my advice book a free, no obligation consultation.

What Is The Correct Body Alignment

Alignment there, alignment here, I talk a lot about body alignment. And for good reason.

I was looking at my 8 year old nieces when I took them ice skating. It was their first time on the ice and they were simply naturals. They kept their balance so well, and naturally knew how to move their feet. I don’t know why I was there. Adults, on the other hand, had problems keeping their feet under their bodies. They learn but it takes longer, and their are very unbalanced.

Looking at them I see the correct body alignment. Natural for the kids, un-natural for the adults. We are born with all sorts of abilities, however, when we start sitting more than moving, and stop moving muscles, joints, body awareness goes into “hibernation”. Through Natural Human Movement we wake up those muscles and help the body remember it’s natural abilities, moving the body the way it was designed to move.

 

Why is correct body alignment important

 

Firstly, many of the pains, even chronic pains, are a result of habitual movements over a longer period of time, as well as other factors. Now, we don’t talk about health conditions or fractures, for example. Rather lower back pain, knee pain, ankle pain, shoulder pain.

Constant tension and body misuse, over a period of time, can lead to chronic pain

Second, running, walking, or moving in any way with an incorrect alignment can increase risks of injuries, and perpetuate older injuries.

Third, incorrect body alignment can strain certain muscles, and weaken others.

Fourth, strained muscles will affect your posture and your skeletal system, it can literally deform your skeleton; it may not be visible but it happens, think scoliosis, one of the most obvious situations of incorrect body alignment.

 

How to align your body correctly 

In an article I can only give you the basics of correct body alignment. However, if you apply these elements to everything you do it will make a huge different in time.

Whether you are running, squatting, standing or walking remember the following points:

  1. Feet – roughly hip width apart, toes facing forward
  2. The Tripod – each of your feet form a tripod with the big toe + little toe + heel; focus on keeping this tripod on the ground at all times
  3. Soft knees – not necessarily bent, but soft; it’s very subtle
  4. Bucket of water – imagine your hips like a bucket of water; align your hips so you don’t spill water forwards or backwards
  5. Core – if your hip, the bucket of water, is aligned then your core (you will feel it in the abdominal muscles) will be slightly contracted
  6. Shoulders and years are aligned
  7. Straight line from your ears to your shoulders to your hips to (approximately) the front of the ankles 

 

These are the basics in a standing position. If you have any questions on body alignment or want to try one of The Merisoiu Technique sessions contact me.

 

 

Three Elements Of Healthier And Stronger Joints

This passion for body mechanics started many years ago after I struggled with knee and ankle pain for years, to the point where I was struggling to walk. It became an obsession, which later on lead to learning more, coaching and writing on the topic.

Many of my clients come to me with lower back pain, knee pain and ankle pain. Probably because this is what I am most passionate about.

Having strong joints means we have a strong body. There is less rick of injuries, if we do injure ourselves we recover faster, we have more control over our bodies and, in general, a healthier body and movement.

 

Strength

As human beings we have been designed to move, and not just walk. For millions of year we have ran, carried, lifted and thrown, jumped and much more. Shoes were simple, no gels and excessive padding, sometimes there were no shoes at all. Chairs were simple four legged stools which required us to engage our muscle to stand upright, thus making those muscles stronger.

Today’s society encourages comfort at the expense of weaker muscles. And with more comfort, less physical activity and weaker muscles, joints and bones weaken as well. They also weaken because of aging, we just makes it sooner.

I often ask my clients what drew then towards me. Some of then say that the system, The Merisoiu Technique, is more complete.

Indeed it is. We learn how to walk, run, jump, lift, throw, carry, crawl, hang, and move if various ways. We get fit and strong with correct alignment. We don’t just exercise, we study movement and we strive to master it.

Thus, for stronger and healthier joints address as many forms of movement as you can:

  • walking
  • running
  • balancing
  • crawling
  • lifting, carrying, throwing, catching
  • squatting
  • crawling
  • mobility and flexibility

If you have injuries you must be careful. If you don’t have injuries you should also be careful, because a correct form of movement involves alignment.

 

Alignment

Whether moving or standing there is a degree of pressure on the joints. The problem is the angle at which the pressure falls.

Movements is not only about picking up limbs and put them in another place. Performing a movement safely requires muscle activation with the correct joint alignment.

This is where we, as fitness industry, go wrong. We educate our clients on the amount of calories and fat they burn by running and jumping up/down, left/right. Not many take the time and have the patient to educate about alignment. It takes work and commitment from the client as well.

Alignment is not something I can talk about in general, besides the general, standing and sitting body alignment. In movement, depending on the movement, alignment changes, although the basics (what I call foundations) of body alignment are still the same.

I will discuss body alignment in more detail in future articles. Until then remember this one thing:

 

If you draw a line (on the side of the body) from your ear, through the middle of your shoulder, through the hip and ending slightly in front of the ankle, you have a correct body alignment.

 

There is not perfect alignment, there is a range. I have an mp3 recording for my clients, which takes them through a body alignment visualization. I am happy to share this recording, for free, with the first 7 people who contact me. Not more than 7. To do this we must talk first. I like to know who you are and why you want this recording. Mention this article when you contact me. Simply book a call, it’s free by the way, clicking here.

 

Micronutrients and Macronutrients

I talk a lot about the mechanical side of joint strength. But we also need to ensure we have enough vitamins and mineral (micronutrients), and fasts, carbohydrates and protein (macronutrients).

The body takes what it needs for bone and joint health from the food we eat.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking health is about what you do this month or this year. The impact of good and bad habits surface later on, 2-3-4 years down the road, or maybe more. Inside the body the effects take place sooner. Just because we don’t see them on the skin doesn’t mean they are not there, good or not.

Being consistent with your diet is the key to a healthy body. To check where you stand do blood tests. They change from year to year.

 

Besides these 3 we also have Flexibility and mobility, but I will talk about that in another article.

 

If you have any questions you know how to contact me.