MINDFUL MONDAY: Are you moving symmetrically when you run?
Are you moving symmetrically when you run? This is a tough question, but an important one to ask yourself. Our bodies are designed to work in a way where all the parts contribute to the movement of the whole. Most of these parts work in pairs: our legs, feet, arms, and all of the bilateral muscles that move our body. If one half of any of these "pairs" is not matching the movement of its "twin" your body will move in an unbalanced way, triggering nearby muscles to work harder to compensate for the imbalance.
My right foot turns out when I forget to pay attention to it. When this happens my right foot over-pronates, my right-side groin muscle gets sore, my right IT band starts to ache, and my left leg feels restricted in its range of motion. That right foot turnout creates a domino effect and throws my entire right side out of whack. This makes my left side have to work harder, and it has the overall effect of pulling the plug on my energy… like I'm driving a car with a hole in the gas tank.
How do you find asymmetrical movement in your running form? Here are three ways to help you dial it in:
1. Have a friend video you (use your cell phone) running toward the camera, starting a distance of 40'-50'. Then, have your friend video you as you run away from the camera. When you play back the video, here are some things to look for:
- Do your arms match? Is one hand held lower or higher than the other?
- Does your upper body list to one side?
- Does one foot turn out?
- Does your head tilt to one side?
- Does one of your hips drop when you land on the opposite leg?
Running with any one of these discrepancies will make you work harder with each additional mile you cover.
2. An even more accurate way to tell if you're moving asymmetrically is if one of your "pairs" is sore after your run, and its counterpart isn't. Try to body sense which side is moving accurately and make an effort to have the bad side match the movement and feel of the good side.
3. The most accurate way to tell if you're moving asymmetrically is to have a Chi Running instructor watch you run. They can observe you from many angles and give you tips for how to best correct the situation.
Always remember, any part of your body that is not fully contributing to the movement of the whole, is not doing its job and effecting the overall efficiency of your movement. It's like the difference between a finely tuned engine and one that's not firing on all cylinders. Keep your movement in balance and you'll run more smoothly for the rest of your life.