Time is a hot commodity these days. When we’re multitasking our way through the morning commute (except for texting while driving, right ladies?!) and juggling four tasks at once all before our lunch break, we never have quite enough time to do it all (let our Ultimate Beauty Body Formula help)! For many of us, our workouts are the one part of the day that we carve out just for taking care of our health, and even those can be interrupted by a rogue work email or impromptu dinner invite. As a committed Bikini Beauty (join the BikiniBOD community today!), you know that any disruption of the path to your goals is seriously not okay, especially if that disruption comes in the form of injury.
Nearly 70% of runners experience an injury every year, and even minor injuries require 2-3 weeks of downtime to ensure that things can heal properly. Running injuries usually affect the ankles, knees, shins, and even the hips, which, when factored into the moves that comprise your weekly workouts, pretty much crosses everything off the list. Long story short: getting hurt sucks. However, paying attention to proper technique can help prevent you from being benched.
As far as running goes, there are plenty of tips and tricks that will help improve your form, including: focusing on your foot strike, the length of stride, and the impact on the knees. The newest way to run is called 'ChiRunning', which takes the attention away from the legs and puts it all on your core. ChiRunning is designed to address the two vital reasons for assessing your form: injury prevention and energy efficiency. Its effectiveness lies in how it reduces the impact on your joints and allows your leg muscles to actually work less when you run.
Based on the movement principles of T’ai Chi, this method concentrates on how energy moves from your center into the limbs to create movement. Chi (pronounced "chee") is the energy that unites body, mind, and spirit, and as anyone that has embarked on a half marathon will tell you, all three need to be in sync in order to successfully make it through all 13.1 miles without completely losing your sanity. Engaging your core and relaxing your limbs allows your legs to simply support your body weight instead of propelling it forward. When your body is aligned and your joints aren’t being pounded incessantly, chi can flow freely throughout the body, making running feel effortless.
There are five main principles of ChiRunning. Mastering all five separately and then combining them into one cohesive technique will make your future runs peaceful and even more effective than they were before, allowing you to reach that euphoric, mind-clearing headspace that you thought only the running gurus could achieve. To become one of these gurus, start with…
Begin with a few pre-run dynamic and muscle-loosening stretches to make your very first stride an easy one. Shake out your arms and legs, roll your ankles, rotate your hips and pelvis, and give your neck a few slow nods up and down. When you get tired halfway through your run, it's normal to tighten up your shoulders or other muscles, but the accumulated stiffness and tension wastes energy and makes you less efficient. Feel your technique slipping? Zero in on where exactly you’re tense, and adjust as necessary. This could be as simple as lowering your shoulders or giving your hands and arms a quick shake.
Maintaining proper posture is just as important when sitting at your desk as it is when running. An aligned spine allows your bones to collectively support your weight and joints and makes it so that they fall into the correct position. Maintain this alignment during your run so your skeleton continues to distribute the weight and pressure evenly. If you slump your shoulders or hinge forward at the waist, even slightly, your legs are left to support most of your body weight, and the uneven dispersal can unnecessarily burden your knees and ankles. With correct posture, you lessen the amount of work your legs have to do and move more powerfully.
One of the most difficult running techniques to master is the landing foot strike. Heel striking adds a lot of stress to your joints and can exhaust your legs that much faster. Landing with a mid-foot strike keeps your posture in alignment from legs to hips to shoulders and keeps the energy emanating from your core. You want your foot to land underneath or slightly behind you to ensure even dispersal of impact.
One of the biggest forces we have to fight every day is gravity. For the clumsy ones in the bunch, this can be a daily struggle, but when running, allowing the force to do the work can actually improve your workout efforts overall. By adding a slight forward lean to your run, your body naturally accelerates and instead of relying on your legs for propulsion, gravity’s got your back (er, front). Keep your spine straight and lean from your ankles (not your waist), and keep it subtle enough so as not to risk falling or losing control. This lean also helps to keep the aforementioned principles maintained, so you can always check in with your body’s alignment to ensure that the other techniques are being adhered to.
If ever there was a case for an ab workout, it would be to aid in ChiRunning (followed by looking bangin’ in your bikini). Hip pain from running is often caused by a weak core, which isn't strong enough to keep the pelvis aligned. A level pelvis reduces injury, and can be achieved simply by engaging your core muscles while you run. Incorporate the following exercise into your next ab workout, and recall the sensation in your muscles during your next run: Stand against a wall and try to press your lower back into the wall. Concentrate on how your pelvis reacts; you should have to engage your lower abdominals in a vertical crunch movement. Emulate this feeling next time you step out for a jog and notice how much easier everything falls into place, and how much less pain you feel afterward.
ChiRunning helps your body to move in the way it was designed to move. Cohesion between the mind, body, and spirit will increase the success of your runs tenfold, and will keep injuries at bay. A healthy body is a beautiful body, and assessing your form while practicing efficiency will help you reach your goals that much faster.
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