Relaxation exercises help identify and remove tension from the body. Studies show that a tensed body uses more energy than a relaxed body. It is essential that we run in a relaxed state to achieve maximum efficiency and prevent injuries.
Before we can learn how to relax our body while running, we need to know what it truly feels like to have our body in a relaxed state. When we have experienced this, tension in the body is much more easily recognized. It is only when we become aware of tension that we are able to release it.
Initially, relaxation exercises should be learned and practiced when not running. As our skill improves we will be able to consciously relax our bodies while running.
Holding tension in our body requires energy and we want to conserve all our precious energy for running. We will be using all our energy wisely and reaching our maximum efficiency when we keep our body totally relaxed while running.
The following video from InnerHealthStudio.com is very relaxing and guides us through the process of progressive muscle relaxation. These exercises help us learn how to notice tension and then how to totally relax our muscles. These exercises can be practiced as often as necessary.
A very useful skill to develop is to be able to use your strength and remain relaxed while running. It requires practice and awareness, but well worth the effort. You will be a more efficient runner and because you are not holding tension, you greatly reduce the risk of injury. You muscles will not feel as tight as before and will not require as much stretching. The exercise in the excerpt below will help you learn this.
Utilizing your relaxed strength is particularly helpful when more effort is required to run and train, such as when running uphill or doing speed work. These are also great opportunities to enhance your awareness of any tension present in your body.
The following exercise is an excerpt from the book: Body Mind Mastery: Training For Sport and Life by Dan Millman. This exercise really helped me to understand and get a feel for what it means to be strong and soft at the same time. There are many other great relaxation exercises and practices throughout this book that can help you discover your full potential and natural athletic abilities. This book is a bit dated but the techniques and tools are still relevant and offer an alternative and refreshing perspective with much pointed evidence that all physical improvement begins with relaxation. Dan's athletic career was in gymnastics but what this book offers is relevant and inspirational to all athletes.
Excerpt from Body Mind Mastery: Training For Sport and Life:
This relaxation exercise teaches you how to use your muscles more efficiently with less tension and effort. Visualizing the flow of energy is very powerful and effective in developing relaxed strength.
Try this simple awareness technique while you are running.
All resistance creates tension and stress. As you increase your awareness to any type of resistance, you can make a conscious choice to change your thinking and let go of the discomfort that it creates. This is essential to running in a peaceful, more relaxed state.
Throughout the day, whenever you feel tension, shake it loose and breathe deeply to relax. As your awareness of tension increases, you will be more in tune with your body and quickly notice when it is feeling tense.
You may mistake this as an increase in tension, but it is not. You are just becoming more sensitive to it, which is the first step to having a more relaxed and tension-free body. You are getting ready to use your relaxed strength to run efficiently and injury free!
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