Running: The Holistic Exercise?
Column #56, 8th November 2008
“Knowledge is not power, applied knowledge is.” Paul Chek, Holistic Health Practitioner. Wise words and today we will apply them to the fine art of Running. Whilst seemingly one of the most natural and functional movements that the body was designed to do, opinion is still divided as to its health benefits.
Concerns on both sides of the debate are well founded. When programmed correctly, there are many well-known health and fitness benefits of running. Conversely there are instances in which it may not be suitable and it could easily push the body out of balance, further away from our goal. As a physical example, pounding the pavements when there is instability in the pelvis or at the ankle could cause injury. Corrective work for a more stable/functional structure can improve running performance dramatically.
Many people look to running for weight loss, but why does it work for some and not others? The answer may be in the fact that we are all individuals on all levels. Depending on our current physiology and metabolism, running could just be adding more stress to our system, causing even more weight gain. Some say we were built to throw a rock at the rabbit, not chase it.
So the key is to be able to apply running to your training at the right time, for the right reasons and in the right way. When we do this we can make leaps and bounds and here are a few less-appreciated reasons (that deserve greater acknowledgment) why:
Breathing: Incorrect breathing patterns are very common, typically due to occupational demands. Behold the Diaphragm, one of the most influential muscles in the body as it is rooted deep into the spine and is integrated through many visceral organs and abdominal muscles. When dysfunctional it can cause dysfunction in any one system or organ, so can be the cause of back pain, hypertension and digestive issues to name a few.
Eyes: Our eyes and associated muscles benefit greatly from being outside, away from the close proximity of computers, books and televisions. The movement, rhythm, colours and distances could prevent unnecessary degeneration of eyesight quality
Movement and Rhythm: All the systems in our human body, (circulation, skeletal, digestive, reproductive etc) evolved in tandem and synchronicity with our ability to move. If our movement reduces so does the efficiency of these systems. Moving with free-flowing rhythm vibrates through the body and helps create harmony on many levels. Movement of the body involves groups of muscles working together in harmony and running can improve the efficiency of these movement patterns known as ‘Slings Systems’.
Electromagnetic: We all hear about the benefits of getting the right amount of sunlight. One interesting reason is that certain frequencies of sunlight are essential for detoxifying the blood. Therefore running outside over different terrain is a completely different scenario to pounding the treadmill indoors.
At its simplest level this boils down to us being outside and moving, something we can all benefit greatly from in many interesting ways. It is however, advised that if you are looking to perform the exercise in a safe and effective way that will prevent injuries and enhance performance, that you investigate and assess your physical and physiological status with an exercise specialist.