I started out on a run a couple of days ago that felt very bad. I felt tired and heavy and cursed myself for just not finding the time to run enough lately (whatever enough is – it seems to vary for me). I have noticed that on days I feel heavy it is often because my upper back and chest are just not helping out so my pelvis can’t function so well and then, since you need your upper back and chest to help the pelvis to turn enough to let the leg move forward and back, and for the arms to move in opposition, my poor old legs have to do it all on their own and that feels tiring and difficult. I often don’t quite notice that that is what is happening until things have changed for the better again and then I really feel the difference.
So I just plugged along for a while noticing the back of one side of my pelvis moving back and the elbow of the other side moving back at the same time, and then the other diagonal and then both at the same time. And that made quite a difference as it always does. And then I felt rubbish again and tight on my right side around the diaphragm. So I stopped and tried out some movements I give to lots of people, plus a neat variation c/o Jae Gruenke from the Balanced Runner. I leant my head and hands on a tree and simply shifted weight left and right, feeling my pelvis move and how that moves in the upper back. Then I put one foot back, lifted the heel, let the knee bend (shifting weight into the front leg) and then replaced the heel (shifting the weight back) and let the pelvis turn to help and felt it in my upper back. Then I did Jae’s clever straight legged version which is a little different and gets the ribs to bend and twist even more – but you have to go asking her for that bit – and then did it all on the other side.
And then I ran off. oh nice. My upper back and chest was nicely part of the picture rotating small and quick (not big and wasteful, don’t worry!) so my arms could swing and my pelvis could turn to help my legs (you try taking your leg behind you without turning the pelvis. Bet a lot of money you can’t do it – and the result is that you have to run with your legs in front of you instead so they have to do all the work on their own plus your weight is backwards) and suddenly it all felt easy. And my diaphragm on the right? nice and easy.
Feldenkrais Practitioners out there who run: check out the ‘heels under the pelvis’ and ‘lying on the feet’ lessons in AY vol 4b. Phenomenal – if you can manage them! in one of them I did recently you end up lying on your back with your knees bent and feet under the pelvis, (your feet are standing on the front foot with the pelvis resting on your heels), moving your knees forward and back alternately from between the 1st/2nd metatarsals which obviously extends your back so you get long, long in the front. (Please, please don’t try and do this if you are not a practitioner or don’t have the experience as well as the whole of the lesson(s) that gets you to the point you can do this easily without strain – or you are likely to just hurt yourself!) You get up and run after that and you go like a bullet. That place in your foot sticks into the ground, and your whole front and pelvis is open and just going forward forward! enjoy.