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 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.

Running With Lower Back Pain – Testimonial Client Experience

Richard experienced sore back after running. We knew it was a non-specific lower back pain (i.e. not caused my disc problems, accidents etc) so we could work together.

Over the 12 months we’ve worked once a week to develop strength, flexibility and mobility through natural movement. We also corrected his running form to make it less destructive on his joints and body as a whole.

There were many many changes in his running form over the past 12 months which lead to NO MORE BACK PAIN!! during or after running.

But it’s not over. Next steps: fine tune technique, optimise performance and address other subtle imbalances, tension and restrictions in the body.

Well done Richard!

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.

How Your Arms Make Your Running Heavy And Breathing Difficult

If you want to run lighter, breathe easier when you run and reduce the risk of injuries think about your arms. What you do with your arms, where they’re going, how they’re moving and everything in between.

I explain in the video and also show how your arm direction affects your running, making it heavy and it also affects your breathing.

When your arms cross your body midline the following happens:

  • your shoulder start to curl inwards
  • that leads to the chest closing up
  • which compresses the chest and rib cage
  • that leads to difficult breathing
  • your alignment is also off as the shoulders drop forward
  • your hips fall back
  • your general centre of mass in behind you
  • your lower back takes a lot of pressure
  • your lower back is sore

To avoid this chain reaction you arms should move forward, and your elbows lightly brushing your body.

Check out the March 2017 Running Technique Workshop in East London.

If you live in Surrey we have weekly classes dedicated to runners. Get in touch for more information

Dracula’s Retreat link as promised in the video click here.

Running Effortlessly Using Gravity

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

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 – Transition Speed

You are a long distance runner, but want to switch to interval training to get faster. I get you, it’s normal and a natural progression.

Do read the short article on Change to begin with, then come back to this one.

 

When you want to change your training regime, to transition from endurance to speed, you must remember:

1. Your nervous system dictates how long the transition will take. Force it and you may end up injured.

2. Your slow twitch muscles fibers – needed for endurance – are more developed while the fast twitch muscle fibers – needed for fast, explosive movements – are less developed. Give them time to develop. You can’t hurry the adaptation process.

3. Think of this new training regime as if you were starting from zero, as if you were a beginner – thus begin with easy exercises, practice a beginners routine 6-8 weeks and then go to the next routine, more difficult, more challenging.

 

For coaching or advice email support@themtechnique.com or book a consultation

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