Monday, 21 September 2020

'Hunting in the Forest': moving smoothly forward... (video)

This exercise builds on Listening Foot, Knee Raises and Vertical Hip Release to explore taking your weight forward smoothly and efficiently onto a secure but springy and responsive leg as you walk. Your hip is the stable interface between your leg and your torso.

As ever, remember that being strong and stable as the hip takes your weight is not the same as bracing :-) Bracing resists movement whereas we want the hip to accept and respond to the weight transfer in a manner that keeps connected with the springs in our knees and ankles as well as movement in the torso. 

Click on the link below to see the video:

Thursday, 10 September 2020

A walk home


Curbar Edge

Sunday was lovely weather, just right for being outside, so I decided to walk home from Curbar Gap after being dropped off there. This is the kind of distance I used to do regularly (about 12 miles or so) but since my knee issues I haven't really done many walks of over eight miles; my thought was that this needs to change!

It is a really pretty route: Curbar and Froggatt Edges, then Longshaw Estate and Burbage South before heading to the Limb Brook valley via Houndkirk Rd and then Ecclesall Woods and head for home with the option of going through Lady Spring, Park Bank and Chancet woods. It has the advantage of a lot more downhill than uphill! Around Houndkirk Road I noticed that I was experiencing hip pain. This is something that began a few years ago and became steadily worse until it was keeping me awake at night. I eventually began a series of Pilates sessions with an excellent teacher and that sorted the problem out within a month; I had lost coordinated movement a few years earlier after an injury and was using a compensation pattern. 

Higgar Tor from Burbage South

So, what to do in the middle of a walk with no Pilates teacher to hand? I noticed that my upper back was braced and absolutely static, no counter rotation happening at all. With that in mind, I visualised my helium balloon supporting me from the crown of my head to gently ease my back into a helpful central longitudinal axis alignment that would also be relaxed and responsive. All well and good but no noticeable change in my back. Next, I paid some attention to how my foot was coming into contact with the ground and how that felt as the movement transferred up my leg and into the pelvis, how my pelvis carried my trunk forward over the foot - just noticed, didn't try to change anything. I continued to encourage my back to soften and the spine to ease upwards whilst checking that my sternum was staying in a neutral position - that I wasn't tensing up and sticking my chest out. Ten minutes or so passed and there it was - the back relaxed and the counter rotation returned, tuning in with the foot strike and the hip movement. My gluts were able to do their job and the feeling of easy propulsion returned. It felt good! I have been practicing this tuning in to walking exercise quite intensively over the last few months and at last it paid off. I will make a video to demonstrate and post it up here soon.

Looking towards Sheffield and home from Houndkirk Road


Saturday, 5 September 2020

So, how's the running going?

  (Tammy in the Peak District; sadly, too old to run with me now but still enjoys her walks.)

So, a while back I mentioned that I had begun running again. Well, it's been a slow progress but I am past the 5km mark and have been spending the last few weeks consolidating that. Sheffield is VERY steep and hilly so I find it wise to use the couch to 10k plan as a rough guide rather than an absolute training regime, not least because I am still building up from a long period of injury issues and at my grand age of nearly 49, I don't bounce back quite the way I used to. My knee has been fine on the whole although it still had its not so good days, but unfortunately I managed to irritate my Achilles tendon on the other leg last week so I am having to settle that back down again. Too much, too soon - I had begun pushing myself on those hills! 

I have found all the JEMS exercises I have been doing really helpful, both in my running and walking. I was making my way up some very steep steps out of a valley and I noticed that my trunk was staying upright but relaxed and responsive because I was flexing so well at the knee and hip, allowing my pelvis to carry my trunk whilst my gluts and legs did what they are supposed to. I think as well as the foundational exercises such as listening foot, hunting in the forest (explores how you are carrying yourself as you walk) and thigh slides, the frequent knee raises and vertical hip release practice have been a turning point for me, especially with keeping my weight over my feet whilst lowering my centre of gravity to keep relaxed control when going downhill. There are links to the exercise videos for these both on my blog and on the JEMS website: 

Go to the YouTube channel link.

The JEMS Facebook page also has useful videos such as this one, so much shorter than my explanation of vertical hip release! There is also another one on the YouTube channel.