Have you ever noticed when you are running and the terrain changes, or there is a loud noise, or a car drives by too close, that your whole body goes into what we call the “startle pattern or reflex”. Try it now, think of being scared when someone jumps out at you! Wow, you tightened your neck and your head pulled back toward your spine, your arms and shoulders lifted towards your ears, you held your breathe, so your diaphragm stopped moving, and your hips, knees and ankles all locked up into an extreme tension pattern. So the bones that make up your joints were pulled into each other, which eventually will start a whisper of pain, and if not changed, will end up in screams or surgery, or the worse, no longer being able to run.
This “startle pattern” typically shows up any time you are surprised and/or stressed by worry, anticipation, fear and anger to name a few. I am amazed to see people in cars on the freeway, actually driving in the “startle pattern”, it doesn’t seem like it would be that big a deal but if you are living in it most of your day, you joints will wear out, your breathing will be compromised, your jaw will be overly tight. Your entire body is effected in this pattern of extreme tension. Now, when you feel yourself going into or are in this pattern of tension and holding, just think to yourself, “this is too much, I can relax my neck, shoulders, hips, knees (if they are locked, same thing – excess tension on knees and low back), and ankles and let my breath out.” Experiment with this new way of thinking and see what happens!