Thursday, May 10, 2012

ChiRunning Coaching

Christiane wanted to develop her running because until now she has only really concentrated on walking technique. This isn't her first session because we started to work of the basics almost a year ago with some key issues already resolved but needing to be refreshed.

After warming up the first exercise involved running on the spot. Normally people do this by lifting the knees and pushing off with the feet and lower legs. Here the aim was to just lift the feet high behind and avoid the knees coming up in front of the body. The hands should be on the thighs during this part. You can see in the video that Christiane is bobbing up and down far too much - meaning that she is pushing off even though trying not to. At first the heel was not even managing to come down to the ground and led to a slightly sprained calf muscle, but this was corrected. 

With the lower abdomen engaged for pelvic tilt, the whole body then has to incline slightly forwards in order to move forwards using gravity. The moment Christiane tilts forwards she "breaks" at the hips instead of keeping a strong column all the way down to the feet. The posture is also not held strongly enough and the lower back hollowed. The disconnection can be seen in how the legs and feet visibly work in an way that does not look natural. Even though this starts from an exercise in lifting the feet behind the body - it should still look natural - in fact that's the purpose of it.

When the body starts to move forwards the shoulders and arms should become involved as the stride extends behind the body. Christiane's postural issues prevent this from spontaneously happening and the arms lie limp and ineffective by her sides. 

Puffs of dirt can be seen as she still pushes off at the end of each stride and big marks are made on the ground. She does manage to prevent the knees from coming forwards though the foot appears to be landing when still going forwards instead of backwards - so there is still some over-reaching.

In the second part of the video things have improved a lot. 

Posture: Pelvic Tilt is corrected better at the lower abdomen
Forward Lean: The column is kept straight from the feet to the head
Feet: The feet are lifted high behind and the foot strike is mid-foot with the heel coming down
Spine: The motion comes from the central axis of the body - integrated and in harmony
Arms: The arms are bent to 90° and working actively along with the body 
Shoulders: There is an active counter-rotation of the shoulders
Cadence: Using a metronome at 170 giving 85 strides per leg per minute
Stride: Opening up behind with posture being maintained
Knee: Landing on a flexed knee below the body, stance slightly lowered
Hips: The hips don't swing to the outside now with the leg/femur staying aligned with the direction of travel
Feet: The feet stay aligned straight ahead
Joints: Relaxed - less force and resistance evident
Connection: There is a visible sense of "connection" giving purpose and function to all the movements.

Prior to this Christiane would have felt her leg muscles very tired when running - but here she is only limited by her cardiovascular system. The integration of the active upper and lower body activity around the spine stops her hips from swinging out. The hard work at maintaining pelvic tilt stops her back from hurting. The alignment of the legs and feet stop her knees from hurting. The "picking up of the feet" instead of "pushing off" protects the calve muscles and Achilles tendon. The relaxation of the joints and overall reduction in muscular resistance.

Focus and Presence: Christiane already has good focus and presence but this gives her the tools for transforming running into an activity where those qualities take precedence instead of one where they cannot function at all.

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