Alexandra, the Body Engineer, tells how to run safely in winter

By Kevin Black in Local People

Alexandra Merisoiu, who is moving soon to the Oxted area, is known as The Body Engineer.

She is the founder of The Merisoiu Technique Institute Of Health & Natural Human Movement™ and coaches groups and one to one in the ever changing woodlands around Oxted and Limpsfield – men and women.

Since 1995 Alexandra has explored how the body and mind works. She has done this through using many different sporting techniques and working with a wide variety of highly respected coaches. She has been ranked second and third at the world karate championship and has twice been national karate champion and is a 3rd Dan Black Belt in Karate Shotokan. She still competes at an international level. It is through these learnings that she has created The Merisoiu Technique

Alexandra says clients come to her lacking the confidence, enthusiasm and desire to spend time exercising in a gym. They also lack the mental and physical strength and power required to reach their fitness goals.

The Merisoiu Technique was created to overcome these problems. It’s a system that focuses on building strong foundations for a powerful body and mind.

Here Alexandra explains How to Safely Run in Winter

Spending my childhood in Eastern Europe where we had and still have plenty of snow gave me the possibility to learn and practice running on snow and ice.

And, as a coach, this is an advantage for my clients, who learn to run safe and much more.

Whether we will have snow in England this winter or just rain and mud, I will share with you a few essential running technique elements to keep you safe as a runner in winter, on snow, ice, rain or mud.

Do keep in mind that running on snow and ice is not something to be taken lightly, you can seriously injure yourself.

Why run in winter?

What makes running in winter particularly challenging and, from a fitness perspective, effective is the fact that more muscles in the body engage and work harder than when running on dry terrain, comfortable in summer.

Your stability muscles perform extra work to keep your body balanced. From the foot and toes all the way to the upper body your muscles are turned on. The core is also doing a lot of work to keep you upright.

So  your body works harder and that is one of the reasons I coach outdoors all year round, to get this diversity.

In the warm season we practice slightly different aspects of Body Mastery than in winter. They complement each other forming a complete system. And my clients love this and the benefits that come with it.

How to run on snow, ice and wet or muddy terrain

I wrote about these elements of the running technique before and I still write about them. The technique I teach has elements of the POSE Method and natural running.

To this I add Karate concepts that apply to running, from 20 years experience in the world of martial arts.

For this article I chose three very important, if not the most important, elements from the technique to help you with running in the snow or wet terrain – depending on how winter looks like where you live.

1. Keep your feet under the body

No more over striding. In fact we should not over stride in general not only in rough conditions.

Forget about speed and distance, you do not know what you will find under the snow or mud. You must focus on and master control over your movement.

The shorter the strides the more control you have. This applies to running on mud as well as snow and ice.

Shorter strides keep your body aligned and that is how you gain control. It has to do with your GCM – General Centre of Mass. I will wrote more about it in this article.

Think about penguins. They keep their feet under their bodies, and they take very small steps,. And these little guys walk on ice! Nature teaches us everything, we only need to pay attention.

Thus keep the feet under the body.

2. Pulling instead of pushing off

Many times pushing off leads slipping and falling flat on your face. It’s an aggressive form of running. Aggressiveness towards your body.

To master body movement, essential for running in winter and not only, and be in control, lift the back foot off the ground rather than pushing off, against the ground.

Shorter strides will help with this element – the longer the stride the more difficult it is to transfer the body weight and lift the foot, so you end up pushing off.

Long strides force you to push against the ground. The foot is far behind you so you cannot lift it. The shorter the stride the easier it is to lift the foot gently off the ground, gently even if you run fast.

Short and long strides are different for each individual. A short stride for you might be a long stride for me.

Thus keep your feet under the body and that will keep the stride short relative to your height.

3. Foot landing

How your food lands is as important as how you pick it up. Land heel first and chances are you will slip and fall on your back.

And this is why

Firstly, it has to do with your GCM or General Centre Of Mass. When you land heel first your bum is pushed back and your body weight distribution is lost. Furthermore, your feet go ahead of the body, they are not under the body anymore, so you have less control.

Second, chances are that if you land heel first you don’t place the foot on the ground, you rather drop it, or you drop the front of the foot as it lands. And that itself causes stress on the joints and loss of control.

Third, placing heel first increases the chance of slipping, in general. It’s that simple.

How to land safely:

Landing flat foot or mid-foot (not on the toes, heel must touch the ground) means you can easily keep your feet under the body and control over movement.

Martial Arts and Running

Martial Arts practitioners and instructors, who understand body mechanics, will never step heel first. And when stepping back in/from a stance, never lift the toes and dragging the foot back on its heel.

They, who know what they are doing, will step with toes first and step back with toes on the ground.

Running is the same. And this is what I teach my outdoors clients but also when I teach karate in Oxted.

Bring in these elements – feet under the body, pulling and mid food landing – and you will see how much more control you will over your body when you run.

You can only see the difference if you try and work to develop the technique. It will not happen overnight.

Bear in mind these are only three aspects of the technique, there are many others. These are a good place to begin with though.

Contact Alexandra for more details at Alexandra@alexandramerisoiu.com

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