The Balanced Runner – The Feldenkrais Method

EdinJogger Returns

Last year I achieved the impossible, or at least what schoolboy EdinBlogger would have deemed impossible. I ran the Edinburgh half marathon, I mean actually ran! I had too key motivators, to raise as much money as possible for Macmillan and become the fastest person in my office, I achieved both and even managed a fairly decent time of 1 hr 53 mins.

I was terrible at sports in school, I hated not being good at something straight away but wasn’t willing to spend the time to get better. Musical instruments generated the same level of frustration, I knew what sounded good but had no ability to reproduce it. The only things  that made sense were maths and IT, but there’s no sponsored spreadsheet events (even though there should be).

The thing I found out about running is that nobody is good straight away, you have to practise, build strength and develop a good technique. I had no choice last year, I had to put the hours in, at first I was tired before I left the flat, it took a few weeks to be able to run 5km and eventually 10km seemed possible. I had a few injuries during my training and soon realised that a half marathon wasn’t the best first choice but I managed it and felt amazing afterwards.

I gave up running 30 seconds after the half marathon, my life spiralled out of control and I quickly fell back into old habits, the pizza delivery guy may as well have moved in!

I’m glad to be taking part again this year, it’s nice to have something to focus on to keep me fit.

Beating my own time, or even just getting under 2 hours, seems impossible so when Jae Gruenke got in touch about honing my skills I jumped (very carefully, to avoid injury) at the chance.

Jae, from The Balanced Runner, is a Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner and running form expert, who has worked with runners from beginner to Olympian (I’m somewhere in the middle of those two groups).

What Is The Feldenkrais Method?

A technique that helps you reassess how you use your body when running. A lifetime of bad habits condition your body to fight against a natural comfortable running form, the Feldenkrais method challenges your natural instincts and helps you reach your full potential.

How Does it Work?

Initial Assessment

The session started with an observation of my current running form, I ran up and down the street whilst Jae watched. We discussed my technique (who knew I even had one) and I was asked to consider what my body does when running, what I do with my arms, how I land and take off, what my upper body does and whether or not I lean forwards or back.

Some of the questions were incredibly hard to answer, mainly because I’ve never considered what my body does when running. All I ever focus on is maintaining a speed that isn’t walking and not being so out of breath that I required medical attention. So long as I was moving quickly enough I was happy, which is crazy when you think about it, the only thing you use when running is your body so how you use it is key.

The Feldenkrais Method

The next stage involved no running at all. I lay down on a massage table and performed a series of gentle movements, each time considering how my body moves and how the motions could be made more comfortable and natural.

My lack of coordination came to the forefront during this session, if you thought rubbing your belly and patting your head at the same time was difficult then you’ll certainly be in for a challenge performing these range of movements. It’s possible that the movements weren’t at all difficult, perhaps I’m a one-off, if you arrange an appointment make sure you let me know how you get on. 

Jae had such a calming influence and was so patient during my frustrating struggles to command my limbs. It was interesting to spend some time to consider how the body moves and how this can be applied to a more comfortable running technique. It was even more interesting to think I was spending time thinking about this whilst lying on my side.

Final Assessment

Upon standing I felt as if my posture had improved. I’m always conscious of my posture and make sure I stand up as straight as possible, what was noticeable different was that I didn’t need to try as hard to stand up straight, it was much more natural.

Jae assessed my hips for freedom of movement, a follow-up test from earlier in the session, my hips were swinging freely without resistance – a huge improvement from my initial assessment.

The next stage was to go out for a run to see if there had been any change in my technique. I was a little dubious that there could be any change, surely lying down on your side and performing a series of movements couldn’t help you run, could it?

It turns out it could. My body had a much more natural rhythm, the key change being with my upper body. A gentle pivot was occurring naturally, my feet were landing more comfortably and there was less strain on my legs. Jae provided some further feedback on my style and made suggestions about my feet and arms, these were things I’d never considered before but did make running more comfortable.

The Training Continues…

It’s been two weeks since I tried out The Feldenkrais Method, I’m a changed man (in terms of running).

I’m so much more aware of my entire body when running, all I used to think about before was what I was listening to and what I would eat once I was finished. Now I spend a bit of time thinking about my form and then quickly move back to what’s for dinner.

The techniques I learned have helped with my running technique, my style is much more fluid and far more comfortable. I’m looking forward to continuing my training and applying what I learned from Jae on the big day (this Sunday, agh!).

More info at:
www.balancedrunner.co.uk
Appointments can be made by calling the Healthy Life Centre on 0131 229 0724 or emailing healthylifecentrescotland@gmail.com.

Cost:
One-to-one lessons are approximately an hour and fifteen minutes and are priced as follows:

  • Four-session series: £210 (52.50/session)
  • Eight-session series: £380 (£47.50/session)
  • Twelve-session series: £510 (£42.50/session)

Series also includes:

  • Audio lesson recordings to do at home, including a recording of your “key lesson” that most directly addresses your problem so you can stay on top of it
  • Collection of “Tips, Tricks, & Strategies” to help you stay healthy and run your best
  • Free follow-up check-ins – if you have trouble with your running in the future you can drop in for a free 15 minute evaluation to assess the problem.

You don’t need to decide in advance how many lessons you want; you can work that out when you visit. If you decide you want only a single session for purposes of assessment and recommendations, the price would be £60.

Disclaimer
I was invited down to try out The Feldenkrais Method free of charge, I was not asked to write a positive review. All views are my own and my running technique, although still questionable, has improved dramatically. 

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