Chi Running into Spring time with good technique
Running this spring has been absolutely lovely in Asheville. The cool mornings are great for going running early, and the afternoon rain storms make for muggy and fun afternoon running, full of mud and mosquitos.
I've been cross training a bit more this spring; a few days of running, as well as swimming, weight training, circuit classes and spin classes. Not to mention plenty of gardening, and working in the yard! All of this movement has made me realize a few wonderful things about what the pain-free Chi Running technique and Chi Walking have taught me about how to move my body and be physical.
In both the Chi Running book and the Chi Walking book, Katherine and Danny discuss how important movement is to the human body, and the more I practice running and walking, the more I realize how true it is - we humans need to move our bodies! We are meant to walk, to run, to jump, play and work hard with our bodies. As our culture has shifted into sedentary patterns, it's all the more important to actively seek out "being physical."
Learning how to move your body in a centered but relaxed way is such an important lesson, and one that can make any activity -- whether you're lifting your child, moving furniture, going running, hiking, biking, or carrying luggage -- much safer and more enjoyable.
Below are a few key points from Chi Running and Chi Walking that I use almost all the time whenever I am doing something physical. (These points are covered in depth in the Chi Running & Chi Walking materials - if you're curious, there's plenty more information in the running and walking books & DVDs.) Most recently, I took on the task of repainting the living room, with its tall ceilings and very thirsty drywall. Amazingly, I have avoided any back or arm soreness, simply by thinking about the way I was moving my body:
5 things to think about when you move your body
Be centered. Make sure you're moving from your core, keeping your movements anchored to your lower abdominal & psoas muscles. Initiate movement from your center and you'll stay centered while you're moving. It's more efficient and definitely safer.
Get aligned. Rather than twisting and turning in ways that might hurt your back or neck, make sure your body is aligned and pointed in the direction you want to move your body/furniture/grocery cart. Start with your feet and work upward.
Don't slouch. It's easy to get lazy as the day wears on, as you get tired of driving carpool or folding laundry. Just remember to raise the crown of your head: give your neck a good lengthening and open up your chest to allow your lungs to fill with fresh air.
Stay focused. When you're doing something as repetitive as washing dishes, or cleaning the floor, or running, it's easy to "forget" what you're doing, but that inattention can sometimes lead to sore muscles or pinched nerves. It's okay to let your mind wander every now and again, but focusing on the job at hand and moving your body efficiently will probably help you get it done faster and get it done with better results.
- Be positive. Maybe mowing the lawn or weeding the garden aren't your favorite weekend activities, but what a gift it is to move your body! Anytime I get a little grumpy about doing chores, I remind myself how lucky I am to be able to move my body, to have the tools to move injury-free, and the opportunity to use my body the way it was designed to move.
- cross training,
- body sensing,
- mindful practice,
- sore muscles