Sunday, June 15, 2008
Things to Try, Think About, or Save for Later
Here are some things I have been just starting to experiment with or they are ideas I am looking into but I don't have the time to pursue fully at this point. Others are things I have bookmarked in the past but forgot about and they seem worthy to try at some time. I will save them here for future reference.
The first thing is something I have tried on my last two runs. The idea comes from author Matt Fitzgerald's blog article More Stretch, Less Strain. He writes about pressing his hips forward while he runs to help deal with tight hip flexors. I have heard about doing this before, but I find it hard to visualize what to do. I was having a sloppy run on Friday, so I tried to "press forward". I am sure I got it wrong at first and felt like my belly was leading things. Eventually it shifted down to pressing forward from the lower hip area near where the fibula inserts. It seemed to need it more on the right side. I started feeling better and less restricted (although I could be doing something very different than Matt). The right side of my body (hip and shoulder) always seem to be slightly behind the left side (hence the balance problems). Anyhow the run started going better and at times things moved into a smooth and wuick running alignment. I ended up running about a minute faster than I have on my 8 miler thanI have in months. I tried it again on Saturday and again it was hard to keep pushing forward all the time but it felt a bit easier and I took another minute off my time. I will keep playing around with this proprioceptive cue. Matt says it is simply "running tall".
The next thing I need to try is called a Foot Pad Release. This comes from an out of print book I have called "The Athletic Ritual" by Kate Montgomery. I have been wondering about the balance of my left foot on the ground. These release moves are supposed balance the three pads on the bottom of the feet (ball, side, and heel). With foot stability you can run and exercise more easily and avoid knee, hip, and back problems. According to the author you can restore stability and balance throughout the body by releasing these pads. The book has pictures and directions but I found this: Oh My Aching Feet by Kate Montgomery which explains the directions just as well.
This book has some other interesting and unorthodox approaches that I have tried in the past of have been looking at recently. There are breathing exercises, energy balancing exercises, acupressure points for increased energy and performance, stretching, visualization, and releases for the diaphragm and sacrum. I have explored some of these a few years ago. Sometimes they seemed like they worked a bit, but I can't vouch for anything long term for these ideas or I would be still doing them. I also see that she has a section on different cross-crawl patterns that include work with eye movements as you do the patterns. One component of Z-Health drills is the use of eye exercises, also!
Last week I took out some books on running posture to see what I had on my library. I have read through most of these books through the years and thought it might be good to check them out again. I started rereading one that I enjoyed a few years ago called "The Art of Running". It is peculiar because it is really based on a postural program called The Alexander Technique that is vaguely alluded to (you need to go to an Alexander teacher to learn it) but as far as I can tell it involves something to do with how the head balances on the neck. I like the pictures of great runners, the writing, and some of the visualizations so I decided to plow through this one first.
Here are the books I have that deal with running posture.
Next is a Yoga For Runners routine posted by Sadie Nardini on the Runner's World Forums. I only tried it a few times but it seems like a good routine for runners if you want to put some time into a Yoga routine.
Finally here is some exercises for the Tibialis Posterior muscle or tendon. It says that these exercises can help with ankle and leg alignment. I bookmarked this a few years ago and some day I will put some time into finding out more and trying these exercises.
There is always something new to think about or implement if one wants to keep running fluidly. I wish running was as easy as it was when I was younger when you could just run out the door and not worry about anything except the act of running!