I’ve heard people say that their joints just can’t handle running anymore, or that their joints can’t take the constant pounding anymore, or that they’re pounding the pavement everyday when they’re running.
Back up the truck.
Of course your body can’t handle all that pounding. No body could.
When I feel like I’m pounding I know it’s time for a runner’s meditation. I need to change my relationship to the ground. I don’t think running has to be hard on your joints. I don’t think it has to be hard on your body. But it starts with your mind. What are you thinking?
Imagine you are a cat with feet and legs that adapt to impact and step lightly. When you are running have these two words in your head–Lifting–Lightly. Imagine that you are light as a feather. This is a simple adaptation that does not seem like it’s doing a lot, but it can change your running tremendously. The mental shift from ‘pounding hard’ to ‘lifting light’ will not only lift your body but your mental state as well. Try running a half mile with thoughts of pounding the pavement. Then do another half mile, intentionally thinking about lifting and being light. It can be an amazing difference.
Something that has been huge for me in changing my relationship with the ground has been getting rid of my arch supports, transitioning to minimal shoes, and shortening my stride so that the ball of my foot comes down first instead of my heel. (And yes I pronate my feet when I run, but it seems like, biomechanically, that that is what is supposed to happen. I’m okay with it.)
Pain, in this case, is my friend. If my foot is in an ultra-cushioned shoe I can pound it over and over again into the ground because it doesn’t hurt my foot. It does hurt my joints and the rest of me though. My minimal shoes are like gloves so I don’t slam my feet down into the ground. I’m not pounding the pavement. I’m not pushing off and working hard because my shoes are like gloves my feet and legs are more like springs. When my feet land, they are poised to come back up, unlike the pounding pushing of the cushioned arch supported foot.
Also, because my shoes are more like gloves, my foot can use all it’s joints, tendons, and muscles as my foot adapts to the terrain. Everything gets excercised. And if you know anything about yoga or bodies, movement is life. Trap my foot in a cushioned shoe that doesn’t let my foot move and I am going to lose function. I don’t think there is a one size fits all plan for human feet. Some people feel like they couldn’t live without their arch supports. Others swear by minimal shoes. Find what works for you, but do change your relationship to the ground.
You can think of the ground as hard, unforgiving, and relentless. Or you can think of it as receptive, open, exciting, and inviting.
You choose and your body will express that choice.
Do you have a meditation or mantra that you use when you run?
Wendy Finn is the mother of 4 boys, owner of I.M. Spa, a Raw Food Enthusiast and educator, a world traveler in pursuit of superior massage education, a Master Massage Therapist of 20 plus years, a gardener, and a nursing student. She’s passionate about touching people and sharing health.