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 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

Lower Back Pain – Exercise To Reduce Tension And Stiffness In Your Lower Back

A lot of people suffer from low back pain. And there are many reasons we suffer from back pain. These group into specific and non-specific low back pain.

Specific means we know the exact cause of your back pain (i.e. slipped disc, accident etc). This needs medical attention.

Non-Specific back pain, we can’t exactly point out the reason, it might be from  lot of sitting down, poor posture, weak muscles (core, buttocks), tight muscles and so on.

Most of the people suffer from non-specific lower back pain, about 19/20 cases. And the reason behind it is usually a combination of all of the above, they are related anyway:

Sitting down too much -> (leads to) Weaker muscles -> Poor posture

Poor posture -> Weak muscles

Sitting with a poor posture -> Weak and tight muscles

You got the idea.

 

Today I will share with you a video with stretches to release tension in the lower back area, as well as surrounding muscles, in the case of non-specific lower back pain.

This is also a great stretch for the fascia (a thin membrane which connects everything in the body, I will write about it with another occasion). It’s also great to improve flexibility and mobility around the lower back and not only.

This is a video from the MTI Academy. Check it out here and here.

Remember, you can always book a free, no obligation consultation with me here to talk about the online academy of any questions you may have, or help you may need.

Find more lower back pain articles here.

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.

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

Why You Should Avoid Isolation Movements

What is muscle isolation

Definition:  Isolation exercises are movements that involve one joint or one muscle group rather than multiple muscles and joints.

First of all, there is not real isolation. We must understand that the body is not made up of individual pieces, like a robot, but it is build and suppose to function as one whole unit.

If you tried to drive your car (which is designed to function with 4 wheels) on only one wheel what would happen? There is no balance, you can’t. If you train for it you might be able to, sure, but your car was designed to work on 4 wheels. Or driving it without the engine, no matter if everything else is perfect, your car will not go anywhere.

So why do you think that flipping a tire without using your hips (tire flipping doesn’t come from the shoulders), punching that bag without putting your body behind it (all the way from the back foot) or run without using your upper body (including your arms) as well, is the “correct” way to do things?

It might be fast, but the body is not designed to work like that. And that’s where many injuries come from.

Weak muscles?

There are instances when certain muscles become weak so we are advised to isolate and train that specific muscle. That’s not a bad thing of course.

But the question is why did that muscle weaken in the first place? Leaving aside situations such as fractures which lead to weaker muscles, muscle dystrophy, In many cases it is the incorrect use of the body.

If we don’t use the body how it was designed to function, as one whole unit, certain parts of the body will grow weaker.

Sabotage!

Your body will always, always try to find ways to sabotage, to make it easier for itself.

Example #1:

Many people walk with lumbar lordosis (excessive inner lower back curvature). Why is it that we feel more comfortable doing that?

It is easier to just “sit” on the vertebrae, which just stack up and support the body as a pillar, than using the core muscles (the mid section of your body) to keep a correct posture. The body looks for finds ways to make it easier.

The result:
– weak core muscles – they don’t work anymore (which makes it more difficult to keep from curving the lower back)
– poor posture – as a result of weak core muscles and poor habits
– lower back pain – again core muscles
– shoulder pain – poor posture because of weak core muscles
– injuries from lifting and carrying – because of weak core

And the list can go on as the body is interconnected. You body is as strong as your weakest link.

The links I made here are just scratching the surface. There are other muscles which don’t work as they were designed to.

Example #2:

If every time we stand, walk and run we distribute more weight on the right side then that side will work more (and also wear out faster) while the left side will gradually grow weaker.

Again the body is supposed to work in balance and as a whole unit.

Strength vs technique

Using strength to flip a tire or do monkey bars is impressive. But it’s just the surface. We don’t see what actually happens with the shoulder, the deltoid muscles, scapula, shoulder joint.

There is a lot of tension and strain if we don’t put the body behind it: abdominal muscles, hips, legs (in tire flipping). You see this all the time, as so many of us focus on flipping many times and fast. We forget to actually pay attention to what we are doing.

Throughout the hundreds of articles I wrote there is a pattern, a common element. That is: Go Beyond The Surface.

Once you get it right they you can go for quantity and speed.

To truly be strong and powerful train and use your body as one whole unit.