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.

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 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.

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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How Runners Damage Their Knees

how-runners-damage-their-knees.

Are you a runner? Do you suffer from knee pain but there is no structural damage that you are aware of (i.e. meniscus, ligament damage etc)? Not yet at least!

Then you should consider looking at HOW you run, your running form, more than for how long and how fast you run.

In this video I explain the main mistake runners make from a technical point of view. That main mistake runners make that lead to damaged knees is OVER STRIDING. Yep. Shorten your stride and you will be using your body in a less destructive way, because when you over stride you:

1. Lock your knee

The moment you lock out your knee it cannot absorb the impact as is would when it is slightly bent. When it is slightly bent you are using the knees and muscles aroudn the knees, the stabilizor msucles as suspension to take on the pressure. When you lovk your knees all you do is put all that pressure and impact on the joint itself.

 

2. Break your fall

In the POSE Method of running Dr Romanov talks about using gravity to move the body forwards, leaning the whole body from the ankles (not bending from the hips). However, when you over stride all you do is break your fall. Add a locked knee to the equation and you have the recipe for knee injuries.

 

3. Push off 

When you over stride the only way to move on is to push off with the back leg. When you push off you stretch out the leg and you also get a reaction from the ground (for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction). The harder you push off the harder the reaction from the ground.

There are a few other reasons when you don’t want to over stride which I haven’t covered in this video but will in future videos.

Watch the video below and if you wish to enquire about our Running Workshop please fill in the form under the video and we will get in touch within 2 business days.

Enquire about Running Technique Workshops:

Run Lighter And Reduce Running Injuries – Running Workshops

Do you want to run lighter and reduce the risk of running related injuries?

Whether you are into parkruns, marathons, short distance running, trail running, road running, obstacle course races the way you run will impact your body instantly.

Shin splints, knee pain, lower back pain, shoulder and upper body pain they are all related to your running form, to how you use your body.

Thus join our running technique workshops in London and train like an athlete.

Watch the video to understand what you will do and learn on the day.

Also please share around. Looking to pass down this knowledge to as many runners as possible.

EARLY BIRD TICKETS are available for the January and February workshops.

 

Factors Leading To Running Injuries – Change

Does running regularly mean you will end up having to pay physios for life? No, not necessarily. Although, like with virtually any sport, even swimming if you swim often and aim high, you will suffer some injuries. How bad, how often and for how long, now these are variables that can be changed.

Change is one of the causes of sport related injuries. And when we talk about running injuries we refer to:

– foot injuries – including plantar fasciitis
– ankle injuries
– shin splints
– knee injuries
– hip injuries
– lower back pain

These are very common injuries and pains in runners who run regularly and push themselves to make progress.

Change is one of the elements that can cause there types of running injuries. Change in terms of:

– speed
– distance
– running frequency, but also
– different shoes (watch out minimalist/barefoot runners when transitioning to minimalist shoes), and different technique
– training type – i.e. from endurance training to interval training

No matter how much you try to progress fast, you are directed by your NERVOUS SYSTM. Until the nervous system adapts to the change, any attempt to push beyond it’s adaptation time frame can lead to injuries.

Thus, my advice on any changes you wish to make:
– make change slow
– have patience
– make the correct changes
– make the changes correct
– get a coach to direct you so you do things the right way, especially if you are a beginner

Need coaching? Email support@themtechnique.com or click here to book a free consultation.

Want to know when the next running technique workshop takes place? Leave your details below and you will receive the updates.

Squats And Lunges – Why Should You Care About Body Weight Distribution

Everything you do is body weight distribution, and body weight transfer, as well as balancing (walking is balancing for example). Understand and practice these 3 concepts (and posture) and any exercise or movement you will ever do will be correct. But only if you practice these concepts.

 

Incorrect body weight distribution simply leads to:

  1. One side of the body will take more of the weight than the other. Thus chances are this side will be over worked, and muscles strained in the long run, while the other side will weaken.
  2. Stress injuries. If you walk, run, squat and lunge while one side of the body takes of weight, and so more of the aggressive impact, it will increase the risks of injuries. It may not happen this year or the next, but after years and years.
  3. Knee pain. This is very common particularly when squatting and lunging, but also standing, walking and running.

 

When we squat or lunge we are told “knees behind the toes!” Why??? Give the reason why. I’ll tell you why. When the knees go too far over the toes, your body weight distribution is lost. There is more weight going on the front of your feet, while you take the weight off the heels (even if heels are still on the ground). This causes the knees and ankles to take more and more pressure.

Now, that doesn’t mean that you bring the weight back on the heels and lift the toes of the ground. That’s not good either. The solution is The TRIPOD.

 

How to distribute your weight correctly

Every moment you stand, whatever you do, you will form a tripod with your feet.

THE TRIPOD = BIG TOE + LITTLE TOE + HEEL

When you stand, walk, run, squat, lunge, balance on one leg etc, keep The Tripod firmly rooted into the ground. That’s it. FOCUS.

If you need advice or would like to know more about coaching programs contact me.

 

The Tripod, Your Shoes And Knee Pain

Since I started learning and exploring movement through natural movement, I was also coached, as well as reading and studying, I have noticed many changes in the way I use my body today. In a good way that is.

I have also realized what contributed to 15 years of knee pain, which lead to grade 3 meniscus damage. While not everyone is the same, and not every injury is the same, everyone can benefit from The Tripod.

This repeated pressure on knees and ankles, whether you walk or run or just stand, is what, in time may lead to pain and injuries. Among other reasons.

That pressure, in many cases, comes from an incorrect body weight distribution. And unless you had an accident, injury or other such problems, this is what probably causes your knee pain. Although you should check with your doctor to get diagnosed.

 

In another article I wrote about Knee Pain And Body Weight Distribution. In this one I will talk about shoes and how they affect body weight distribution.

In that article we also mentioned that you have two tripods. Each is formed on your big toe, little toe and heel. That forms the base of support for your whole body.
And like your camera’s tripod, if one of the legs is not properly planted into the ground, the tripod is uneven and pressure is not evenly distributed. That tripod is unstable and weak.

Many times, knee pain comes after we consistently practice the habit of distributing our body weight more on the front of our feet.

But it is not your fault. Look at your shoes. They naturally lift your heel and automatically sends more weight on the front of the foot. Even if it’s just a little, that little adds up over the year.

It may not seem much but over 20, 30, 40 years it can change a lot. It can change your posture and the way you move your body.

 

The solution?

Firstly, although I believe we should walk barefoot sometimes, that we should allow our feet to develop and strengthen the muscles, this does NOT mean you need to go barefoot all the time, everywhere. However, when the weather is nice you can go barefoot in the garden, in a forest, in the house, anywhere where you feel you can.

Going barefoot, besides strengthening your foot muscles, will also help you become more aware of and correct body weight distribution. Feeling your toes and heel on the ground enables you to make changes.

“Allow your feet to take their natural shape and your skin to breathe.”

 

Second, barefoot or not, be aware of how you distribute your weight (from left to right and from back to front) every time you step, go up the stairs, when you stand, and run. At some point while you walk or run, you will go through a position where your foot is on the ground and you can feel The Tripod. Consider that a “check-point” and ensure your big toe, little toe and heel are on the ground, rooted into the ground for just a second or fraction of a second before coming off the ground again.

For example when you run with a forefoot strike, after the ball of the foot touches the ground the heel comes down as well, and that’s The Tripod right there.

 

Try it now. If you don’t try it now, you will never try it and forget about it.

 

Please note I am not a doctor or a therapist. It is important to consult your doctor if you have an injury or experience any pain. 

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.