Outdoor athletes, and especially mountain athletes do a lot of “terrain training” and often without even knowing it. Terrain training is a combination of multi-directional movement (forward, backward, lateral and diagonal moves that take you up and down hills), mixed with all types of terrain features like, hills, trails, steps, dirt, sand, gravel, grass, rocks and roots. What this does is strengthen the connections between mind and muscle, as well as strengthen the musculoskeletal system.
Don’t Make the Mistake
Hills and inclines are excellent training tools, but, one of the most common mistakes outdoor sports and fitness enthusiasts make is taking the path of most resistance, muscling through it, or trying to “conquer the mountain.” That’s a big mistake, because the mountain will win, every time.
Instead, try to integrate with the environment and the terrain; become one with it. Find flow and grace, and Incorporate Kinesthetic and Proprioceptive Awareness training into your routine.
Kinesthetic Awareness is knowing precisely where your body is in space and time. Like a surfer riding a wave, or a mountain biker flowing down a single-track trail, or an inline skater slaloming down a steep pitch. It’s how we learn to respond to the terrain.
You see, even as adults, we never stop learning. Every time we try a new sport or a new move, we are literally setting new neuropathways. And it’s through repetition and constant refinement in our technique that these pathways get stronger.
Steps towards Kinesthetic Awareness
1. Feel through your feet.
This is a HUGE Point! Because our feet are what connect us with the earth, and most often the feet sense first, and then send the signals to the body and brain.
What’s more, the foot is the anatomical region with the most proprioceptive sensory receptors with very distinctive nerve circuits.
2. Look ahead.
Train your eyes to look at least 10-15 feet and beyond when you walk, run, skate, or ride your bike. You wouldn’t drive your car down the freeway staring at the hood ornament. It’s the same with your athletic endeavors. Look ahead!
3. Have fun!
Take the path of least resistance. Integrate with the environment and terrain.
Relax! Play! Be a kid!
Looking for more tips to better athletic performance and injury performance? Check out the article on Environmental Integration.