Body awareness is the ability to feel your posture in any given activity, how you move, and where your body is in space. When this skill is fine-tuned, we are able to direct what we are doing when we move. Knowing how and where we hold unnecessary tension in our bodies and how to release it while running, from stride mechanics all the way down to the contraction of specific muscles can be of great benefit. Helping you understand your movement patterns and then how to feel and self-correct your limiting and unnecessary movement patterns is the goal of my Physical Therapy work with runners.
This ability to tap into our body awareness provides insight into what we may be doing that contributes to the pain we are experiencing which can then point us in the direction of what adjustments we need to make to heal or avoid injury in the first place. As a bonus, these are the same adjustments that improve our overall running performance and our enjoyment of the sport.
Very much part of this Skill Set is developing our proprioceptive sense (sometimes referred as the 6th sense or kinesthetic sense. Our connective tissues contains a variety of sensory information fibers. In the last couple decades a vast amount of research into the fascial system of the body has revealed far more Sensory Information Fibers exist then was previously understood. These proprioceptors inform us of where we are in space, how we are moving, how our parts and segments contribute (or fail to contribute) to our whole body movement, and even how we feel.
Because of the vast amount of information that is gathered, stored, and utilized by our myofascial system, learning Body Awareness Skills can and will serve us in many different areas of life as well as running form.
As with any other skill it requires specific kinds of practice to tap into and develop this innate ability. This requires being attentive to our bodies, becoming sensitive to how we are moving, both the parts and the whole. And not only to how we are moving, but to the quality of movement. And learning how to assess and how to improve that quality. For runners this helps to one to enter into an enhanced fluid movement pattern. That is something we all like and is associated with more meditative states.
Traditionally certain practices such yoga, Tai Chi, or ballet for example, are designed to teach some of these skills. With the right instruction runners can use their senses to learn these skills as well. And as an added benefit, once these skills are learned they can be transferred to other activities. It is this skill of “body awareness” that I have come to understand, utilize, and teach to runners for healing injury (chronic, short term, and traumatic), for enhanced enjoyment, and achieving more fluid states.
Running from the Core is a topic that draws a lot of attention from runners trying to improve their game, and is a perfect task within which to apply the “Body Awareness Skill Set”.
Read more about Running from the Core.