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The Ultimate Addition to Your Exercise Training

Updated: Dec 12, 2022

How did your body feel after doing your triathlon?

That was the question on everybody’s lips after I finished my first-ever Quarter Ironman triathlon last month.

Happily the answer was "better than expected"!

And not because I trained hard.

In fact the opposite was true, I'd not trained the full distance for the bike or run. Eeek!

Because of this, I really thought my body would protest BIG TIME with tight and sore muscles after the 1km ocean swim, 45km bike and 10.5km run. My body had never in its life done that much exercise in one day before!

Yet, while I was absolutely exhausted, otherwise I was feeling pretty OK.

Signing up to something like the Quarter Ironmaori triathlon was a big thing for me. While I’m passionate about functional movement, biomechanics and mindfulness, I don’t really consider myself a “sporty type”.

Training for the triathlon, I (mostly) enjoyed doing higher intensity workouts but I realised that if I did that every day and never paid attention to how my body felt or did any mobility work, my body would break.

I get that most people will never do (or ever want to do) a triathlon event.

But the principle of balancing exercise and recovery is important no matter what activity you’re doing. Whether that’s gardening, dog walking, pole dancing, training for an event or working out at the gym.

Doing regular Feldenkrais® Awareness Through Movement sessions (or as I like to call them “Not Yoga”) really helps with exercise recovery.

Doing a lot of repetitive exercise can tire and strain muscles, and if overdo it, can also impact your muscular development. The low-impact movements done in Feldenkrais® “Not Yoga” sessions supports muscle recovery to create the perfect balance. Moving in lots of different ways, in many planes of movement means better alignment, lengthened muscles and supple joints. Think of it as “wear and repair” vs “wear and tear!”

In the months leading up to the Ironmaori event, I made sure to schedule plenty of “Not Yoga” sessions in my training schedule to ease off muscle tension and also iron out any twists, weirdness and niggles. That little ping in the knee. Slightly sore back. Tight shoulders.

By addressing any issues, I also knew that I wasn’t strengthening an imbalance or improving a weakness as I trained.

The great thing about Feldenkrais® is that it works on a neuromuscular level. Which means it works directly with your nervous system. This aids what's called systemic recovery - or nervous system recovery.

Because just like your muscles, your nervous system can be overworked from too much exercise (as well as other everyday stress too!).

Your nervous system is responsible for generating muscular contractions in all types of movement, so when it's fatigued your movement is slower, weaker and less coordinated.

The movements in Feldenkrais® sessions calm your nervous system, leaving your body and mind refreshed and restored. There's no sweat, effort or strain involved. Indeed you feel like you've just had a massage from the inside out. What I like to call doing a "work-in", rather than a workout!

But the real kicker in having a mindful movement practice like Feldenkrais is the mindfulness part.

Having awareness of what’s going on in your body and mind is hugely valuable. Feldenkrais® teaches you to FEEL things out. Not just do an exercise or movement, but to notice and feel HOW you are doing it.

Better self-awareness helps you understand your movement patterns, get to know where you hold the tension, what muscle groups you don't recruit easily, where tend to overwork and those weird little habits you do without even noticing.

And until you can FEEL those things and reprogramme the underlying movement pattern, you will end up doing the same thing again and again, hoping for a different result.

And probably most importantly, improved self-awareness tunes you into what your body is saying. You learn to listen to what your body whispers before it becomes a scream!

Do I need a longer or shorter workout today? Do those hamstrings need some attention? I'm a bit tired today, how's that affecting my foot placement? Am I actually doing what I think I'm doing?

And to know if it was truly my body saying “not today” or just my brain playing tricks and finding excuses to skip a session?!

(and OK, sometimes I fudged the ‘body cues’ and deliberately skipped workouts because it was too cold, raining or I simply just didn’t want to… because I'm still an athlete work-in-progress!).

Listening to body cues is helpful any time but it was particularly useful for transitioning back to exercise after COVID and seasonal illness. The slow, easy movements and knowing what level of exercise and intensity I could do (usually less than I wanted or expected!) meant I didn’t overtrain and set my recovery back.

And of course, Feldenkrais “Not Yoga” sessions were gold for post-event recovery.

After the triathlon event, I spent lots of time on the floor going through short and easy movements to allow my body to rest and reset. My quads were a bit tight, yet after one 20 minute Feldenkrais® session, that tension eased right off. Lots of sleep and walking round the block a few times - at a super slow, easy pace - was the only other post-event recovery I did. No pills, potions or stretches required.

And as I rolled on the floor and meandered on my easy walks, I thanked my lucky stars that I had this training and recovery tool. It felt like having a secret super power!

As the founder of the Feldenkrais® Method, Moshe Feldenkrais said “our ability to recover is our greatest quality”.

I wholeheartedly agree.

Whatever your jam is when it comes to exercise and moving your body, I invite you to experience out how Feldenkrais® "Not Yoga" sessions can be the ultimate addition to improve your exercise recovery. Enjoyed this blog? Click here to download your free copy of "Secrets to Better Sitting Posture" for 5 easy ways to improve your posture, get rid of pain, aches and tension and feel more comfortable.

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