Tag Archives: running

Alexander Technique Running on Hove Lawns

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Out running today on Hove Lawns. A beautiful sunny January day. I recalled my initial running sessions with Alexander Technique teacher/marathon gold medallist Paul Collins.

Any time I ran behind Paul I was always really struck by the tiny, small steps he took. Smaller than many peoples walking steps even. Well, he did go on to win, veterans super-distance championships in the 1980’s.

It’s a method that really works. It gives you a sense of time in which you can both observe and organise yourself…

Running slowly in the morning sunlight. Running through my Alexander Technique “directions”…

  • Head balancing easily on top of my spine.
  • Neck free.
  • Back lengthening.
  • Widening across the shoulders.
  • Leading each step with the knee.
  • Small, rolling steps.
  • Looking right out along the length of Hove Lawns to the Peace Statue.

I’m not really trying to go anywhere fast, certainly not striving after a certain level of fitness, but a nice of smooth rhythm develops – a gentle endorphin ripple. And that winter sports injury seems to be subsiding nicely.

Alexander Technique Running on Hove Lawns

alexander technique hove- running fitness breathing

alexander technique hove- running fitness breathing

As I run along Hove Lawns several times a week I see many fellow runners who habitually breathe through their mouth.

The disadvantages of mouth breathing are:

  • It makes less efficient use of the oxygen you take in
  • It is associated with a poor balance of the head on top of the spine
  • It is associated with, less efficient, clavicular breathing
  • It is easier to exceed your safe maximum heart rate for your current age and level of fitness

Mouth breathing, an industrial health specialist told me, is a largely post-industrial habit caused by nasal congestion associated with high density populations, pollution and contaminants.

I mentioned this conversation to an art historian friend. She agreed that it made sense. If a character in a pre-industrial painting has its mouth open it indicates that the character is speaking, singing, shouting or expressing a strong emotion vocally. Not simply standing and breathing through the mouth apparently.

So why do so many people mouth-breathe while running? As an Alexander Technique teacher I find this an intriguing question. F.M. Alexander’s problems were intimately tied up with an inefficient breathing pattern… Congestion and blockages can play their part but I suspect that the main culprit is simply habit.

The benefits of nasal breathing are:

  • It makes more efficient use of the oxygen you take in
  • It automatically keeps you within a safe maximum heart rate for your current age and level of fitness
  • It is associated with a better balance of the head on top of the spine
  • It is associated with more efficient diaphragmatic & intercostal breathing .

Give it ago. Nasal breathing will almost certainly slow you down a little in the short term. You can use this slower pace as an opportunity to perfect your running style and technique. If you stick with this you will soon return to your former speed but with a much smoother and more reliable running technique. In future posts I will look at some simple strategies for freeing up the nasal passages. I will also go into some more detail about breathing in general.

alan.mars@yahoo.co.uk  or call 07930 323 057

The Alexander Technique - move through your life with greater ease

alexander technique hove- running fitness breathing

Brighton Marathon using the Alexander Technique?

Master the art of running using the Alexander Technique

Master the Art of Running

‘Tis the season to run!  And with a big sporting events such as the Brighton Marathon coming up, there’s no better time to brush up on your technique to avoid putting unnecessary strain on your body using the Alexander Technique – Linford Christie did!

Based on the teaching of Frederick Matthias Alexander, the Alexander Technique has been taught and practised for over a hundred years and focuses on positive ‘body use’ – ensuring correct, effective posture, and economy of movement and effort.  This means your musculo-skeletal system is working at its most effective to build strength and suppleness, help avoid injury and combat existing muscular or joint pain.

Malcom Balk, an Alexander teacher, running coach and author of ‘Master the Art of Running’, has some simple but effective suggestions that will help to build strength and suppleness and avoid injury;

THE HEAD LEADS AND THE BODY FOLLOWS Although we run in a forwards direction, the spine is happier lengthening upwards.  With this in mind, it is important to let the head remain quietly poised on top of the spine and to look ahead rather than down.

SHORTEN YOUR STRIDE Learning not to over stride and reduce braking is the key to running more efficiently.  So, stop reaching out with your foot and landing on the heel, instead, let your knees, not your feet lead the stride.

LIE DOWN BEFORE A RUN Before your run, take time to lie down and gently allow your spine to find its optimal resting length. This works much better than ‘posturing’ your self and will prepare you to run in more connected/conscious way.

PRACTICE & PERFECT RUNNING SLOWLY It’s harder in some ways to run slowly as there is less momentum to cover up your bad habits. You also have more of a chance to notice what’s happening when you slow down and pay attention.

Happy practice… See you out there on Hove Lawns!

Email Alan Mars or call on 07930 323 057

The Alexander Technique - move through your life with greater ease