AEQ method and Long Distance Running
Every marathon runner should master the awareness of their body. This means that they should constantly observe and learn to detect changes which happen during movement. This way, it would be easier to determine the cause of injury, or even prevent it, which would in turn lead to better results. We consciously examine our posture as well as the way we sit, walk and run. Some of the movements, which we carry out unconsciously and automatically, should also be observed and adjusted.
And there are also other movements which we actively carry out – when doing sports, recreation or work (on an assembly line, behind a computer for several hours, on long drives etc.) – and which demand more of our energy and attention. Regular and conscious examination of movements is extremely important for maintaining efficiency or even enhancing it. Such awareness, as well as control, allows elegant, effortless and less strenuous movement. If there is less strain, there can be more movement – here, we are talking about rationality or the rule of less is more. The input of energy is lower, the effect stronger. This behaviour should nevertheless be nurtured with persistence, because the effect can be achieved only by slow, yet persistent learning – we cannot expect long-term results by trying to force it or experiencing pain. Why? Learning is always more efficient if we internalise it; if what we learn becomes an essential part of us. The best learning is practical, but it’s recommended to familiarise ourselves with it also through theory, so we can grasp the meaning of correct movement also with our mind and understand it. We teach ourselves, a therapist is only there to help and guide us.
Learning to be aware is not a widely known method, in fact, it’s only known by a few. We know we can learn different skills, for example play football or guitar, become a hairdresser or mechanic, train or strengthen our muscles, improve our physical fitness etc. All of the above skills are widely recognised, while the control of muscles in the centre of our body, when we don’t see them or haven’t yet learned to feel them, is an almost unexplored field. And this is where most of our problems occur. We usually attribute conditions like stiffness and pain due to the wearing down of our body to ageing. Ageing indeed affects our skin and hair, yet, problems with the motor abilities stem from an ever increasing, unconscious muscle tension, aggravated by sensory-motor amnesia which inhibits the efficiency of body systems. I have the opportunity to observe beneficial effects of active therapy of clinical somatics on the well-being, movement and thinking of my clients. At the end of therapy, their goals, wishes and habits change. They start feeling the lightness and happiness of being again, both of which arise from a supple body and painless movement. Regular and conscious observation of usually automatic actions, habits and reflexes is extremely important, yet, very rare. For this reason, there are an ever increasing number of tired and weary adults who suffer from pain and whose medical issues are building up without any logical or obvious reasons.
Long distance runners face the same problems: extreme strain and unending training accelerates the alienation of body and mind as well as the loss of awareness, while, at the same time, their running is not as efficient as they expect it to be. Long periods of such running usually leads to an athlete feeling like their physical fitness is worse or even that they are becoming weak. Athletes therefore change training: they add exercises for strength, which of course doesn’t make any sense. Various muscle and joint injuries occur over time, but cannot be successfully treated with the usual therapeutic methods in the long term and prevent acquiring all the necessary knowledge. For it is them who should notice the negative changes, understand where they originate and be able to eliminate the irregularities. This is how they could prevent serious injuries, loss of motivation and poor results. Adding clinical somatics to the training process and life, brings awareness into the life of an athlete and changes them and their running. A runner won’t lose its enthusiasm for running, won’t make wrong decisions at trainings and competitions and will prolong their active running career. Most runners sooner or later lose their feeling for when the strain is excessive, since they get accustomed to pain and think that constant fatigue is a sign of good training. Such condition leads a runner to discontinue their career and also to strains relationships with other people. Regular exercise of somatic movements and enhancement of proprioception, both of which a runner learns and acquires during active therapy of clinical somatics, allow easier focusing on the movement when running and more frequent observations of posture and movement. If we strengthen these feelings, it will be easier for us to adjust our running to changeable conditions – during running and in life. We are able to detect and eliminate irregularities ourselves. This method of training gradually changes a coach into a professional consultant which is also his task.
An athlete who has a properly developed and maintained awareness and knows their weaknesses will be able to contribute to the professional team better. The alienation of athletes from themselves is often the very reason why discovering the reasons for current condition is left to technology and the feeling or guesswork of a coach. I see time and time again how recreational as well as top athletes, after dedicating several months to clinical somatics and differentiation, change and start to observe more closely what and how they need to do something in order to reach their goals in the fastest possible way. They use technological tools as tools and not as the basis for determining their current condition and feeling. Generally, and in particular among top athletes, as well as progressively more among recreational athletes, most of them are reaching their genetic maximum in the field of VO2 max and strength/body weight ratio. At the same, they are increasingly more aware of constrained and inefficient movement which only deteriorates over years. AEQ method offers an answer to these problems, which seemingly have no easy solutions, and, in a relatively short time and in an easy and painless manner, “reminds” athletes of the childhood lightness and efficiency of being as well as uses the existing strength, fitness, experiences and wisdom to bring out content, motivated, self-aware and confident athletes who are making progress, know how to protect themselves from injuries and what they still need to do in order to reach their goal.
A AEQ teacher teaches a client how to improve the differentiation of the body. An athlete then understands, detects and, if necessary, eliminates to be stuck in one of three reflexes or their combination: Landau reflex, Trauma reflex and Startle reflex which contribute and leads to sensory-motor amnesia. With active therapy and by doing somatic exercises correctly, an athlete learns to direct their attention and awareness there where they want – they can achieve the desired goals with the least strain and without injures.
Aleš Ernst, teacher of AEQ method level 5