Feldenkrais – My experience

It’s been 4 weeks of pain free running, this is only 8 runs though. I’m being very disciplined not to rush back and allowing my body to adjust to the stresses of running.

In these 4 weeks I’ve been to see Jae at The Balanced Runner and I’ve been doing Pilates.

I found out about Jae from the local running shop who recommended me. After going to see 4 physios in the past year for the ITB issue and getting no where I was not ready to part ways with money again.

The recommendation also coincided with my decision to stop running as I needed to get focused on my cycling so that the ironman was at least achievable.

So I sat on the recommendation until I was ready to focus on recovery. 

Post ironman my focus went to recovery and it was then I took the plunge to get in touch with Jae after our initial chats on email.

I’ve always been a bit skeptical over things like Pilates, alternative therapies as such, but there was something that made me think again with Jae. She practices Feldenkrais and applies this to running.

It seems obvious but it would be the first time someone would look at my running form with regards to rehabilitation. Non of the physios I’d seen did.  Maybe this is what I needed.  I had been of the opinion that my form was OK, I’d run for years and I was a natural forefoot runner, though maybe too forefoot.

The fact Jae would look at me run was the main factor in persuading myself to part with more money, but it would be money worth spent if I could get advice on how to fix my running.

My first lesson with Jae was interesting and strange. Unlike physiotherapy, Feldenkrais does not manipulate the muscles to be different lengths by loosening them off but – and apologies if I don’t do the description justice- but Feldenkrais aims to put the body in positions where it feels natural and without effort.

The thought process behind this is to allow your body to slowly remember to run with minimal effort as it is with this where our body is under less stress.

So you can imagine my surprise when all I did that lesson was to lie on a table and to be moved slowly, prodded, legs lifted gently, torso lifted gently (yes this meant a lot of touching) and so on. The lesson started with a run session outside watching me run along the path, and the lesson ended with the same to apply what had been taught.

I also asked a lot of questions as I need to understand what the idea of the exercise is so I can understand what I’m supposed to get out of it.

This though can be counterproductive in Feldenkrais as the body should just feel comfortable. And be shown how it is to be in a good natural position, and to remember that feeling, rather than be told how I should feel. 

In any case the four weeks have passed and in that time, I have learnt the following:

Running is not just about the legs, it’s about the position of the whole body, even the slightest movement on the leg can cause the head to move. 

The shoulder swing is of as much importance as the swing of the legs, they need to work together to produce force to run. 

The body will lean forward and the leg will stop the body from hitting the ground, this is a natural reaction. 

The higher the hands the more controlled the swing will be.

Making my front as long as my back will make the lean even and more balanced

Having a wide shoulder, loosening off between the shoulder blades will relax the upper body

Running low with a larger knee bend will absorb the forces to the ground. 

All the above, I’ve got to put into practice to make sure my form is right and the injuries are kept at bay. 

The final lesson Jae informs me that there is much still to do, and I’m sure there is.  My plan is to see how I get on with these tips and see how my body adapts to this new way of running.  I have to say that when I used to run, I felt good, I didn’t feel unbalanced, I felt smooth and happy, and most of all I did this without thinking.  I need to get this new way of running into my muscle memory so that I can keep good form without thinking. 

My goal is getting closer. 

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