Running and Walking somatically

How can Somatic Movement help you to run more efficiently?

You might run and experience soreness in one knee.
You might run and feel your shoulders get really tight.
You might run and feel like you’re not moving forward.
You might run and your lower back tenses up afterwards.

If the middle of your body is restricted in movement, the rest has to work harder. Being able to use the core 3-dimensionally is key to a smooth and efficient gait.

Somatic Movement frees the centre and periphery of the body. With prolonged sitting in work, a lot of people unconsciously tighten their abdominal muscles as a default. Emotional / psychological stress together with ‘bad posture’ and slumping increases tension on the front of the body. Think being under high stress in work, sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day and then at home still getting email what needs to be finished over the weekend. A sensation of getting weight down. Sounds familiar?
Breathing gets restricted, fatigue is common and gets battled with coffee… Try this – round forward and tense your stomach. Now try to take a deep breath without letting go. Did it work? This is more extreme than what is happening through habituation of what we call a Red Light reflex (tight abs, tight chest, tight hips, shallow breathing, head forward with tense shoulders and  neck tension, migraines), but imagine a low level contraction all the time. You don’t get the oxygen you need to function properly. In terms of running, and upright alignment might be difficult: the neck might work overtime, as well as the back muscles which counteract the pull forward. Shoulders might ‘always’ and the longer you run, pull up towards your ears or chin. Your run might look more like falling forward.
By having a strategy to release tension in the front of your body, you can create balance and an effortless upright alignment. Effortless is the key word here – everyone can make an effort and ‘stand straight’ or take a mirror and start ‘stacking up the skeleton’ until a visual upright position appears. To be relaxed in neutral is the key to be able to use your energy towards movement, not already to reach neutral.

Stress doesn’t necessarily need to make you slump forward. Standing a lot, being energetic and enjoying managing a lot of different projects might sound more like you.
Tight hamstrings are probably the most common complaint, followed by ‘tight IT-band’ which then gets tortured with a foam roller to stretch out. If your hamstrings are tight, check your back. Any tension there at all? Is it comfortable to sleep on your back? Is it comfortable to lie with the legs long? Yes, I thought it wouldn’t be. Tension in the back of the body, often accumulated in the lower and middle back is what we call a habituation of the Green Light reflex. You might experience a dull pain in your lower back from sitting and standing. You might tend to sit at the edge of the chair with a slight arch – you’re almost being swallowed by your computer screen and are trying to type that last email in a hurry. You might always have to type in a hurry. Your sympathetic nervous system is running the show. Always. You might sleep little. You generally don’t switch off. Switching off might equal working out to exhaustion so you can get a rest. You tend to breathe in but forget to breathe out.
You might like saying ‘no pain no gain’. You might have heard from several people to ‘drop your ribs’ when you lie on your back – your physio, Pilates or yoga teacher. You love extension work, lat pulls, and find abdominal exercises really hard or they even cause you back pain (which doesn’t mean you don’t enjoy them). You might pull your legs into your chest after abdominal work because you have to release your back. Your feet usually point more than a few degrees to the side and your outside of the leg tenses up as well as your buttocks.
A continuous tension in the muscles of the back restrict your stride and ability to rotate gently with your pelvis and ribcage to move forward. The muscles of the front can’t take their share of work.
Releasing the back muscles has a profound effect on the length of your stride, the ability to let the pelvis move the way it’s supposed to in walking and running. Spasms are a thing of the past.

You might feel like your leaning to one side – either with your head or torso. You rest one elbow into your desk and sink into it. Your head movement is restricted, turning around looks like you’re imitating batman. You fell off your bike, down the stairs, had a car crash.. You tend to stand on one leg, because it’s more comfortable. In walking, one foot hits the ground with force, while the other side feels lazy. You might wear orthotics to even out a leg length discrepancy that appeared miraculously at some stage in your live. On photos, your shoulders are never even or you always tilt your head to the same side.
When we are stuck in a Trauma reflex, the right and left side have stopped working together and one side took over. The pelvis might have a slight twist, one leg easily swings forward while on the other one the hip flexors are forever tight. Put your hands into your waist and squeeze. Can you feel a difference in tension? A few ‘cable-y’ bits? Imagine this asymmetry combined with the impact of running. One sided knee or hip pain is almost inevitable.
Knowing how to release the sides of the body rounds out your ability to move from a free centre, where all muscles of your core work in an intricate balanced fashion. If one side is habitually contracted, rotation is limited – usually on one side more than the other, which means your effort to reach your leg forward to take a step is not even.

The good thing is that you can learn to gain more control. More body awareness. Better breathing. More efficiency. You can look elegant and composed when you run instead of sloppy.You can actually make running look and feel comfortable.

Learn a Somatic sequence with me, specifically designed to release tension that inhibits a smooth gait. You will feel the difference immediately. It’s intelligent, slow, deliberate movement, you will concentrate and use your faculty that controls and makes every single facet of you – your brain. You will be able to repeat the sequence or parts of it where ever you are, you just need a floor and as little distraction as possible. No machines, no bands, no balls. Just a little bit of time and choosing to move for a few minutes.
You will sleep better, get more oxygen and feel better in your body.

Book your space now. Ask me questions. If you’re not convinced after the workshop, you can have your money back. We will take before and after pictures, so you can see for yourself what you can change with a mindful approach to movement.

June 3rd 18.30-20.30
The Holistic Centre of Ireland (in Rathmines, opposite Tiger/Swan Centre)

35€/30€ for VHI Women’s minimarathon runners/walkers and students/ senior citizens

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