Recently on my walk I was very aware of how other people were walking and running. I began to notice their posture and walking/running style. I am used to looking at people’s posture as I have been teaching yoga and general exercise for many years, but I had not, until that day, realised how poor most people’s running/walking posture and style actually is. I contrasted this to how I was walking that morning –effortlessly, lightly and joyfully. I felt like the seagulls I had observed earlier, sitting on the sea, and then gliding along the sea effortlessly–almost like stillness in motion.
Do we ever observe our posture or style whilst running, walking or exercising generally?
We each have a unique walking, running, and exercising posture and style. Some styles and postures support us, and some can be harmful to our bodies. For example, some of the more common postures and styles that I have observed are:
- Leaning over to the left or right; so that one side of the body (head, neck, shoulder and hip) is lower than the other side, and therefore contracted;
- Leaning forwards or backwards, which strains the lower back (at least);
- Lifting the shoulders up and/or rolling the shoulders in, which puts pressure on the trapezius muscles, shoulders, neck and breathing;
- Having more weight on one leg and hip, which leads to muscle imbalance;
- Limping, or rolling one foot in or out;
- Chin poking forward or jaw tight;
- Tight hips and/or knees rolling in.
Further, many of us while exercising:
- Breathe heavily through our mouth;
- Wear knee braces;
- Have a heavy heel strike or a flat foot;
- Hold tension in our body, as if we are protecting ourselves from something;
- Look to be in pain, or at least extreme discomfort;
- Do not appear to be aware of our surroundings or of other people.
Perhaps we do not notice we are doing these things, especially when we are listening to music or talking on our phones or talking animatedly to someone; or, perhaps we do notice but push on, regardless of how our posture, style or behaviour may be affecting our body; regardless, perhaps, even of pain!
I also used to exercise without regard to my body –my posture, my style, how my body was feeling… I was aware of the pain sometimes, and cramping –such as towards the end of a 100km bike ride –but I ignored the pain and pushed on.
How can we start to correct poor posture, style or behaviour whilst exercising?
When I commenced studying with Universal Medicine, I started to bring more awareness to my body and connecting to how I felt, before I moved. By bringing my focus to the quality of being in my body - i.e. understanding how my body felt, e.g. was I being gentle with myself and feeling still and connected to my body, or was I feeling tense and anxious and racy, with my mind all over the place - before I started to exercise, and by developing that relationship first, I was then able to take that connection and focus into the exercise. Therefore I knew if and when, my posture, style and behaviour whilst exercising were supporting my body or were harmful to my body. This in turn led me to make choices that were more supportive for my body.
For example, I now:
- Ensure I breathe only through my nose (when I start to breathe through my mouth whilst exercising, I know I need to stop or slow down whatever I am doing);
- Walk instead of run, to protect my knees, shins and ankles;
- Observe my feet, e.g. am I limping or rolling my feet out or in;
- Release any tension I feel in my body –for me this usually means I consciously drop my shoulders and unclench my jaw;
- Open my pelvis;
- Have an elongated posture, by drawing the crown of my head away from my feet, with my chin tucked in under my nose;
- Lift and open my chest; and
- Have equal weight through my feet.
How different my body feels now whilst exercising, and afterwards! I no longer get a build-up of lactic acid in my muscles, so they recover well from the exercise, because I observe my posture and style and let my body guide me as to when I have exercised enough. I do not get cramp whilst exercising (from over-exertion). My body no longer aches from over-exercising or from exercising in a way that is not supportive. For example, I don’t have tension in my lower back or neck from exercise (I used to get this tension a lot, especially when long-distance cycling, hunched up over the handlebars for hours on end).
Simple really –to be aware of our posture and style whilst exercising and to let our body guide us –but what a difference it can make to how we feel and how we enjoy exercising.J
This article is inspired by the teachings of Serge Benhayon and Universal Medicine. For more information on connecting with your body while exercising see: