Over the course of 2014, as I worked with my runner clients, taught workshops, gave talks, and listened to the running community, I heard over and over again that runners transitioning their form to a more forefoot strike and/or shifting into more minimalist footwear are struggling with achilles tendon pain, metatarsal stress, and other forms of foot and calf pain. If you’re accustomed to wearing conventional trainers and heelstriking, your whole-body movement habits can make you vulnerable to these particular kinds of stress and pain when you try to change your footstrike and footwear.
So I’ve spent the past four months developing a Feldenkrais lesson for runners to help relieve this stress and remove the movement barriers to running comfortably and enjoyably with a slight forefoot/midfoot strike in zero drop, minimalist footwear or barefoot. I designed it to help you feel how to allow your hip flexors to lengthen appropriately for running, coordinate that with the movement of your pelvis, and connect it upwards to your shoulders and downwards to your feet. And I also built in a number of strategies to help you reduce asymmetries that may cause you to have problems with just one foot.
It’s called Free Your Feet, and I’m incredibly excited to share it today as my annual New Year’s gift to you.
The lesson should help you have much more comfortable feet, ankles, and calves when you run, and if discomfort in these areas has interfered with your ability to run that may come as a huge relief. However the lesson will also result in your running more slowly for a short while because the movement patterns involved lengthen your ground contact time, reduce your elasticity, and cause you to run more upright. In other words, it’s an injury recovery lesson, not a running performance lesson. The effect will pass after a couple of runs and you’ll be back to springiness and speed but with feet that feel better. If you wish, you can speed that process up by doing this lesson I created for the UK Feldenkrais Guild the day after you do Free Your Feet.
You can stream or download the lesson from SoundCloud using the link above.
Please share you experiences with the lesson and ask me questions by leaving a reply. It would make my day to hear from you!
I wish you happiness, comfort, and freedom with every step in the new year.
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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.