Thanks in part to my chosen profession, I am a keen and interested observer of posture, body language and movement. I am constantly fascinated by the many ways there are to express oneself through movement; there seems to be as much variety of ways to move as there are people.

As Vancouver’s 10K Sun Run in April approaches, I work with several clients who train vigorously throughout the year for this event. After the run, I work with several of the same clients who are recovering from the event. Some describe a certain amount of muscle soreness such as post marathon stiffness in calves, quadriceps and hamstrings.  Others have more acute symptoms such as shortened Achilles tendons and aching knees.
Though I am not a runner, I became curious about how to run most effectively. That is, to run safely and comfortably rather than as fast as possible. From what I have observed, studied and experimented with in my own body, I have drawn the following conclusions regarding effective running:
-Like anything, proper alignment and body mechanics are the biggest advantages – particularly in high impact activities such as running. The more evenly weight is distributed and balanced, the less stress is transmitted to joints.
-The same words that my ballet teacher told me when I was 9 years old applies to runners: “if you look down, your body will follow you down”. Running with eyes on the horizon helps balance the head on the spine and helps to keep the neck free from excess tension.
-Keeping the spine upright and in line will help the body go forward and lightens the load of impact. I tell clients to “feel up” with their spines, not back. Leaning back while attempting to run forward wastes energy (the same goes for walking).
-Bouncing the wrists up and down puts strain on the shoulders and neck and does not keep the arms free of tension. Clenching fists tightly is also a means of excess strain.
-Knees have to bend and lead before the hips. Taking large strides by tucking the hips under (like a pelvic tilt)  takes the upper body back, and is an inefficient use of energy.
Several clients have asked me about whether to run with a heel strike, full foot or forward foot strike. Evidence seems to support all three depending on factors such as intention and alignment. Based on personal experimentation, I prefer to run with a heel strike but I am running for optimal use of my body, not speed or competition.
Running, like walking, dancing, swimming or any form of movement is an opportunity to be present in the body; to notice the breath, be mindful of keeping strain out of the shoulders and neck, lengthening the spine through intention, looking around and visually taking in the environment whether it is a blue sky, the bottom of  a pool, a crowded room or a long road ahead.