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Do You Know How to Run?



Do You Know How to Run?

by Dr. Nicholas Romanov

Does the above question make any sense to you? Isn't running a natural, simple and accessible exercise for health, pleasure and competition? The latest statistical data states that there are over 33 million runners in the US alone, making RUNNING the most popular sport in the world!!! That same study proclaims that every year, 2/3 of those runners are injured, making running the most dangerous sport in the world!!! This astounding statistic has yet to decrease in the past 30 years, despite our cutting edge running technology.

Two "simple" questions can be raised on this matter: Does the enormous number of runners show that we know how to run, and I mean actually run correctly? If so, then why does the running injury rate remain so high, despite much improved medical services, more sophisticated running shoes and more educated coaches and athletes? While there is no agreed upon answer, there is plenty of debate about the different causes of running injuries. Some say volume and intensity of training have a direct effect on running injuries, others blame running surfaces, and let's not forget shoe design. However, no one ever talks about HOW WE RUN.

Is There a Running Technique?
No matter how you run, it's ok. If you try to apply this logic to any other human activity such as swimming, tennis, dancing, driving a car and so on, it would sound absurd, but not for running...

Despite more than 100 years of scientific study in running, with tons of articles, books, and experience of the best coaches in the world, we still didn't come to a commonly accepted model of running technique. In 1987 the collective mindset of the running community was best summed up by Nitro when he said, "...there is no scientifically founded ideal (running) technique that suits everyone."

If you follow this way of thinking, you must also agree that there is no correct technique for swimming, biking, or even the hammer throw. I can't agree with Nitro's thinking because I believe in the wholeness of nature, and the existence of humans as a small part of that nature. Therefore nature sets numerous limitations on human physiological and biomechanical functions.

Are You Taking Advantage of Gravity?
You have to understand that nature's "wholeness" does allow some deviations to its limitations, but they are limited and if you ignore them, nature will punish you. The answer to running injury free, lies in collaborating with Nature, not working against it. All the rules of proper running technique are based on this premise. Nature manifests itself most obviously in running through Gravity, and your task is to understand how you are supposed to interact with it most efficiently. You'll be running injury free with the Pose Method because it shifts the stress and pounding away from your joints and creates a natural cushioned run.

Nature's greatest limitation on humans happens to be gravity, the most powerful natural force surrounding us. The awesome power of gravity can be illustrated by the following two examples. As you know an avalanche, snow mass sliding downhill, moves faster than 200km/hr and destroys everything in its path. You can also compare human force vs. gravity as well. For instance, the fastest sprinters in the world can reach the speed of 12.5 m/s in 6 seconds. Yet in that same time, a free-falling body can achieve the speed of 58.8 m/s. That is nearly 5 times faster in only 6 seconds!!! This example leaves no doubt; human force can never match the power of gravity.

Certainly, behind gravity there exist other forces involved in running, such as a ground reaction force, muscle elasticity, and muscle voluntary contraction. Therefore, when dissected, the running technique is a consolidated model of the different forces in running.

Maximize Your Force!
The following is a proposal for runners, triathletes, coaches and teachers regarding how to run. This theoretical and practical approach to running is what I call the Pose Method.

The essence of this Method is that you employ gravity as the major force pulling your body in a horizontal direction, while the rest of the forces assist this same pull. Integration of these forces only happens in a certain frame (point) of space and time in relation to your body position. Therefore I refer to this position as the Pose, and I refer to the integration of horizontal forces as the Pose Method.

Qualitative technique descriptions from the best runners in the world can be reduced to the following: an easy, effortless, relaxed, smooth, flowing, without visible vertical oscillations, running. Sounds great! But does this mean that those expert runners know how to run correctly or teach others to run correctly? No, because they don't know how to start and continue the described movement, where and when to apply effort and so on.

Nevertheless, the first answer was given around 500 years ago by the ingenious Leonardo da Vinci, who wrote: "Motion is created by the destruction of balance..." And really, what is the starting point in running? It starts in the position of balance, where from the runner starts to fall forward. Indeed, the freefalling is the simplest representation of our freedom to move. It doesn't cost us anything, and requires only some skill of transformation of movement from a vertical direction to a horizontal direction. The latter is the function of the remaining forces: ground reaction, muscle elasticity and muscle voluntary contraction. To increase your running efficiency, we must determine exactly where and how the above forces should be applied.

Falling...Over and Over Again!
The following reasoning could lead you to the proper answer. If we know that the main role of forward motion belongs to gravitational force, then the ground reaction force and elasticity are indirectly redirecting this pull. So when your body is in the process of falling forward, your major attention should be devoted to the foot on the ground, which does not have any chance to be lifted without your effort. So your effort should be directed to pulling your foot from the ground, which you can execute by using your hamstring muscles. While doing that you automatically include muscle elasticity, which pushes your body weight off the ground and allows you to change the supporting foot.

This is the most efficient cycle of movement: falling forward from balance, and changing the support from one leg to the other by pulling the foot from the ground. This cycle emphasizes minimum effort, minimum braking to your body movement, and maximizes your horizontal forces.

An interesting thing about this technique is that during the cycle, all these horizontal forces only integrate with each other at 1 point, in the Pose, when the body is in the state of balance on one leg, with the GCM (General Center of Mass) above the ball of the foot, with the s-spring body shape. This is the position from which you can fall forward and pull your support foot from the ground simultaneously, producing non-stop falling.

Therefore, the actual formula of running technique can be summarized in the following way: fall and pull in the Pose, which can be further reduced to just the pull when your Pose and fall are established well enough.

Start Today!
This running formula can be easily employed by athletes of any level, from novice to elite, and by runners of any distance, from short (100m) to ultra-marathons. Gravity doesn't discriminate over the speed and length of running, as long as your falling, you have to pull your support foot from the ground. Certainly, it will be a different cadence of pulling depending on how much we want to use gravity. The lowest frequency rate can be about 180 steps per minute, due to necessary muscle elasticity involvement. Whenever stride frequency drops below this level, muscle elasticity involvement reduces causing muscle voluntary efforts and energy expenditure to increase.

The Pose Method is a very simple concept to understand, but not that easy to execute. Executing the Pose Method involves completely different neuromuscular patterns, compared to what you've experienced before. It requires the re-education of your body in your understanding, visualization, feeling, and execution. In other words, a completely new perception of everything. Basically learning the Pose Method is a battle between old habits and a new technique.

My personal experience with the Pose Method has been nothing but positive! My only encounters were with happy, injury free runners and triathletes from different countries competing at all levels, from beginners to world champions. My lifetime goal is to make the Pose Method available for more athletes and runners around the world in order to help them accomplish their athletic goals.

Your Guide to Running The POSE

Do

1. Change support quickly from one leg to another.
2. Raise ankle straight up under the hips.
3. Make your support time short.
4. Retain your support easy, effortlessly, light.
5. Keep your support and body weight on balls of your feet (midfoot).
6. Keep ankles fixed at the same angle.
7. When on support, keep your feet behind the vertical line going through the knees.
8. Keep knees and thighs hanging down and relaxed.
9. Keep shoulders, hips and ankles along one vertical line.
10. Keep your body leaning forward and free falling.

Don't

1. Don't touch ground with heels, keep them slightly above the ground.
2. Don't move your weight to toes, pull your ankle up, when weight is on ball of the foot.
3. Don't move ankles back and forth.
4. Don't try to increase stride length or range of motion to increase your speed.
5. Don't move your knees and thighs too far apart, forward and backward, during stride.
6. Don't fix on landing, just lifting.
7. Don't point toes and don't land on them.
8. Don't push off or toe off, LIFT ONLY!

Remember!
  • When on support, keep your feet behind the vertical line going through the knees
  • Your legs should land themselves without any muscle activity, just by gravity pull
  • Arms performance is a natural balance for legs movement
  • ALWAYS KEEP YOUR KNEES BENT, DON'T STRAIGHTEN THEM



About the Author: Dr. Romanov developed the Pose Method® of Running during the 1970's. Since then he has received proper recognition and numerous honors for his revolutionary running Method. The USA Triathlon Olympic development program successfully implemented the Pose Method into their training system. After the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, the British Triathlon team invited Dr. Romanov on board as one of their coach-es. Presently, Dr. Romanov works with Mexican National Triathlon Team, as well as elite athletes around the world. For more information, including how to schedule your own Pose Method Clinic, please visit Pose Tech. This article reprinted with permission from Peak Running Performance.


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