Runners often come to me for help with neck and shoulder tension. On their own they try relaxing their shoulders but it only brings a few minutes of relief while running, then the tension creeps back again.
The reason for the tension is often not anything to do with their shoulders, but instead how the hold their head and ribcage. Usually it takes several one-to-one lessons for them to learn how to coordinate themselves so the problem fades away and running feels easier, but there are a few tricks that can bring about some measure of improvement even midrun.
This issue came up for a number of participants in my online camp, so I recorded a quick Feldenkrais lesson that can be done while running to help reduce tension in the neck and shoulders and improve the relationship between the head and spine as well as the core action, leg function, and footstrike.
That’s a lot of effects for a 6-minute lesson! The key is the eyes, since the movements of the eyes are deeply connected to the muscle activity of the neck and how we hold our heads. Thinking in terms of human function and evolution, how we see when we run and how we run when we look around are connected deeply in our bodies and form a virtuous circle. When you improve your ability to look around you improve your running, and vice versa. I wrote about this in the context of football a while back as well.
Here’s the lesson. Give it a go and leave a comment sharing your experiences!
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Jae Gruenke, GCFP, is a running technique expert and Feldenkrais Practitioner. Known as a “running form guru,” she is the Founder and CEO of The Balanced Runner™ in New York City and The Balanced Runner UK. She has helped runners from beginner to Olympian improve their form to become pain-free, economical, and fast.