Injury Prevention, Healing, and Alignment for Runners
Thursday, March 3, 2016
by: Annie Thoe, GCFP, Assistant Trainer

Section: Athletes

Over the past thirty years, I’ve found the following tools to be helpful for preventing and healing injuries affecting runners. As a college athlete and hurdler, I wish I had known of these tools for improving my form, recovery, and performance. Running can be an elegant and light experience. I’ve included a few of my favorite practices to improve alignment and ease, and also prevent injury. Let’s get started!
Nature’s Running Mentors
One tool to help with increasing ease while running is to take on the quality of an elegant animal. Imagine a cat stalking or a graceful dog loping. Their feet touch lightly, no more than necessary. If you can run with a functional and elegant intention, you’ll train yourself to move more naturally and with beauty. Barefoot walking (the first step to barefoot running) connects you to the “wild” feelings of touching the earth.) Feel your feet and legs wake up to this connection to the ground and you’ll never run the same again. This process of barefoot running takes time and careful introduction, but can be one of the fastest ways to improve ease and form.
Feldenkrais Lesson to Align Hip, Knee and Ankle for Running
  •  This is one of my favorite short tune-up lessons to do before running, hiking, or any activity. It helps with knee tracking, seating the hip joint for alignment, and frees up the lower leg to land more softly.

Other Feldenkrais Lesson recommendations
  • Lessons for the chest to organize an uplifted and relaxed torso. A relaxed and coordinated chest can make a profound improvement in performance. This will improve breathing and diagonal balance and reduce unnecessary torsion on the joints. The YouTube lesson above help with this, too. You can buy downloads of Awareness Through Movement® lessons online1 from numerous sources, in addition to free YouTube lessons. If you are working with a practitioner, ask for lessons for diagonal balance as well as integrated hip and shoulder organization will be useful for you.
  • Barefoot walking - As mentioned, walking barefoot wakes up the foot and ankle alignment. Soften your contact with the ground. Stop driving your heel into the ground and let your foot float to “land.” Feel more energized with this primal, sensual connection to the earth. Be sure to start out slowly and carefully. It’s easy to overdo barefoot walking and bruise your heels or irritate your feet. Be sure to massage your feet with oil before and after to soften the skin and muscles. Start with just a few minutes of walking at a time. Don’t run barefoot until you can walk well first! Check out these free short lessons for barefoot walking
Barefoot Walking Lesson #1: Flexibility and Stability

Barefoot Walking Lesson: Improve Foot and Leg Alignment Using Reaching

There are many more Feldenkrais lessons to refine form. Try these out and let me know how they work for you. (The photo is from my time with the Hadzabe hunting and gathering tribe in the Serengeti of Tanzania. They have a beautiful, relaxed form— running in sandals made from car tires.)
Happy trails!

Explore these other resources:

Annie Thoe, GCFP, is an Assistant Trainer in Seattle, WA. For more information about Annie Thoe’s nature retreats or guided audio lessons: or 
Facebook and YouTube: Sensing Vitality

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