Lower your expectations. And your shoulders.

Good morning, friends and massage enthusiasts.

How’s your social distancing going?

I’m trying hard to find silver linings, so one of the things I’m doing is taking classes, online, with my wonderful Open Door colleagues I don’t get to see enough when we are all busy working.  I mentioned Tai Chi in my letter the other day and this morning I took a great half hour class with Sarah Booker, athletic trainer.  It’s called Running Warmup and Go! and you can read more about it and get in touch with Sarah (and see all our current online offerings) here.

I learned all about foot doming, and working the toes independently!  It is fun to try to engage, first, only the big toe, pressing down into the floor, and then to relax the big toe and press the other toes.  That big toe is really a helpful type and does not want the other toes to have to work too hard.  But persist!  Play with those intrinsic foot muscles.  Strong feet and arches contribute greatly to pain free running.   Sarah can tell you more!

We did a bunch of other warmup work and then I said goodbye and went out for a run.  My main running goal right now is to R E L A X.  Take it easy.  Savor the time outdoors.  Think about good form and efficiency rather than speed or distance.  Enjoy the air.  Settle my worrying brain.

The parts of form I need to work on the most right now are: relaxing my shoulders and engaging my core.  When you’re out of breath and working hard, there are a bunch of muscles in your shoulders and neck that want to jump in and help by pulling the upper ribs UP while your diaphragm pulls DOWN.  Problem is, these muscles use your head and neck as their anchor point to haul those ribs up, which often results in headaches, neck and even jaw pain.  Me?  I’m not a professional or competitive runner.  I just like running.  I don’t like pain.  So if I can’t keep my shoulders low and relaxed and my chest open?  I just walk until I can.  No shame.  I set off again, thinking, shoulders low, collarbones wide.

The other thing that happens when I’m out of breath is I start belly breathing and I lose the engagement of my core muscles, my internal organs are flapping around and my back hurts.  No good.  So again: I walk until I can breathe easily with my shoulders low, collarbones wide, and belly button gently drawing UP and IN and my tailbone tucking under.  Then I set off again, strong, relaxed, at ease.  Begin again.

Bonus: When you’re relaxed and your expectations are low, you can pet more dogs.  Petting dogs improves your life.  It’s science.

Be well, everybody.  Run slow.  Pet more dogs.  Wash your hands.

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