I spent a great (if not overwhelming) afternoon with the wonderful Helen Hall. Generous with her time and wisdom I learnt a great deal, a lot fo which I am still processing – both as there was so much to take in and a lot of it neurological, leaving my brain feeling confused as it struggles to learn / unlearn new pathways to help improve my movement.
Helen has a great set up out in Amersham, coupled with some friendly dogs and a warm, welcoming environment. I had decided to go and see Helen, initially after hearing her spoken of in glowing terms by Ranjan Chaterjee on his podcast. I bought her book and discovered that she was the first running coach to seriously integrate the ideas of breathing / breathwork into running practice. Interested to discover more I got in touch and had a lovely long conversation with her – clearly very passionate and someone I could learn a lot from I wanted to visit her. Looking at her website I was fascinated with the tech that she had to film someone, walking & running to help unpick their posture / mannerisms which then inform treatment / corrections and allowing improvements. This appealed massively to the geek side of me and I booked in to see her.
The first couple of hours involved taking stills and film of me standing, walking and running to compare the differences between each 3 position. Focusing on movements in each plane, how the spine moves, force applied through the feet, gravity lines, centre of mass, tracking and so much more (I forget as it was so granular) – this then is followed by Helen talking her way through what she sees and applying her many years of experience to unpick what she sees and theorize as to how to improve / undo / change certain patterns based on what you have asked for. For me I was interested in running more efficiently and it was clear that with too much of a forward lean, the extra weight of my head needed resolving (so gravitational field work begun). Alongside which I have poor contra lateral movement (left arm / right leg and vice versa) with a more natural ipsi based movement pattern. The horrorshow that my right hand side presents (well in my mind anyway) is all to present when watching myself on film. Some suggested neurological exercises to help the mechanics where suggested for this.
In all this it was nice to find that I run more naturally than I walk and my pelvis works really well. I did come away feeling dazed. Possibly a combination of the amount fo information I had received and challenging my brain to move in patterns and into places that it doesn’t want to and has forgotten how to. I’ll be interested to see how the exercises make a difference over the next 6 weeks and what happens when I return.
The take away for me was the importance in the mind body movement paradigm – with mechanics absolutely dependent on the neurology – how this may have changed many, many years ago to protect me, a result of childhood injury. Now this can be newly learnt, changed and improved upon. All of which didn’t make my hamstring tweak at the track this morning any easier to bare! I suspect too cold for short shorts.