is for jaw.
True confession: Sometimes I run with my jaw.
When I’m near the end of a longish run or a race, I pull out all the stops to get to the finish. For whatever reason, I push my chin out and up, as if my jaw can pull me ahead faster than my feet.
Of course, that doesn’t happen. Instead, I interfere with my breathing just when I need to take in as much air as possible.
Completely unhelpful? Absolutely! But it happens all the same.
As I said in my “I” blog, running can teach us about how we handle stress. Over the course of our daily lives, we develop habits around stress, some less helpful than others. I don’t know when or how or why I started sticking my chin out. Maybe it was a way to make myself look taller when I was a kid—who knows? In any case, like most habits, it probably seemed like a good idea at the time, or I wouldn’t have kept on doing it.
And where is your jaw, exactly? Most people will point to the chin as if that’s the entire jaw. But the jaw is bigger than you think, and here’s how you can find it:
Gently put the ends of your index fingers just in front of your ears. Then gently open your mouth wide. You should feel a little hinge moving under each index finger. Congratulations, you’ve found your jaw joints!
The next time you’re out, pay a little extra attention to what your face and jaw are doing when the going gets tough. If you notice any tension, try the little procedure when you get home, preferably in front of a mirror.
J can stand for a lot of other things: joy, jazz, jump, jog. I encourage you to explore your own ideas.
Please feel free to send me any questions you might have. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
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Meanwhile, happy running!