ChiRunning into Springtime with Good Technique
Start off Spring Training in the “Right” Foot
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 a lush, green blanket of new growth covering the hillsides.
I've been training a bit more this spring; a few days of running, as well as cycling, and some circuit training work on the trails. Not to mention plenty of gardening and working in the yard! All of this movement has made me remember what the pain-free ChiRunning and ChiWalking techniques have taught me about how to move my body.
In both the ChiRunning book and the ChiWalking book, Katherine and I 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 in 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 ChiRunning and ChiWalking that I use almost all the time whenever I am doing something physical. (These points are covered in depth in the ChiRunning & ChiWalking 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 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 and 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 when 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 lack of attention can sometimes lead to sore muscles or pinched nerves. It's okay to let your mind wander every now and then, but focusing on the job at hand and moving your body efficiently will probably help you get your work done faster and with better results.
Be positive. Mowing the lawn or weeding the garden might not be your favorite weekend activities, but what a gift it is to be in 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.
Adapting only one of these ideas will help you move through your day in great shape… just imagine what it would feel like to instate all three.
For more information on the Chi approach to movement, check out our ChiStore.