Running and Flexibility

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Running is not usually known as an aid to flexibility, in fact it is notoriously known for tightening us up: tight hamstrings, tight calves, tight hip flexors and a tight back.  Well the good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. 

Seven years ago, almost to the day, I bent down to tie my son’s shoelaces while walking my children to school.  I tried to stand up but I literally could not move.  Something went in my back and I found myself on all fours by the side of the road in absolute agony.  To cut a long story short, I was carted off to hospital in an ambulance; not an experience I wish to repeat.

When I recovered a few weeks later, I decided that I needed to take charge of my body to ensure it didn’t let me down again in the future.  On the recommendation of a friend I took up Pilates with a view to strengthening my core and gaining more flexibility.  I also started running again and accepted the fact that my back hurt during and after a run.  Meanwhile I began to incur the many other injuries I have referred to in previous blogs.

It was only when I started practising the ChiRunning technique which applied a lot of what I was learning in Pilates to movement that I really got in touch with my body.  I began to recognise why I was getting injured and understood what I could do about it.  When the body is aligned correctly and gravity is assisting our forward motion, we cannot overwork the hamstrings, calves, hips and back.  I encourage everyone to include the series of body loosening exercises designed to loosen joints.  These are described in the ChiRunning book and demonstrated on the DVD.  These should be done before you head out on a run but can be done at anytime.  These work wonders in helping to find tight spots and loosen them over time.

I’ve been practising the ChiRunning technique for a number of years now but I still go to that Pilates class once a week.  A lot of the exercises I found difficult or impossible back in the early days are now so much easier despite the number of running miles I am now able to clock up on a weekly basis.  I am much more flexible than I was although I recognise I still have some way to go.  My running is more fluid and running downhill is a joy as my ability to fall and let my stride open up behind me has improved immeasurably.

Take a holistic approach to your running and you will be amazed at where it takes you.

Happy running.



Posted in Beginners

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