November 22, 2010

Chi Running

So I was going to blog about Chi running and how beneficial it has been for me to incorporate the style in my running. Then my piriformis started to tantrum it up.  I was thinking it was going to be hypocritical to sing the praises of this style if it hadnt benefitted me, but i have to say it has.  The whole last year has been injury free, really due to a change in my running style.  I am starting to feel tight in my butt, but it was only recently after the marathon that I felt the tightness, and my times have been extremely fast here and there, not so chi-like at all!  C
hi Running is the use of smaller, quicker strides, leaning forward to put less stress on joints and muscles.  Here is something I gleaned from the subject:

The Basics of Chi Running (from this site)

ChiRunning focuses on posture, leg swing, the position of the pelvis and a forward lean. It's not a fluffy, hippie theory--it's based on the physics of body mechanics. Here are the basics:

Run Tall. Think about this: When you're standing straight, your joints are in alignment and your skeleton is supporting your weight. When you run, you want to keep this alignment so your skeleton continues to be involved.
It's common, however, for runners to slump the shoulders or bend at the waist, which then requires the leg muscles to support most of the body weight, instead of the stronger skeleton. By maintaining good posture, you lessen the amount of work your legs have to do and move more efficiently.

Lean Forward. One of the biggest forces we have to fight every day is gravity. Why not make it work for us instead of against us? By adding a slight forward lean when you run, your body falls forward and you use gravity for your propulsion instead of your legs. This lean also helps keep your body in alignment, with your foot landing under you.
To do this, lean from your ankles, not your waist, and keep your spine straight. The lean is subtle; don't lean so far forward you are out of control or actually falling.

Land on the Mid-Foot. To keep your posture in alignment--which helps reduce injuries--while you're leaning forward, land with a mid-foot strike when you run. You want your foot to land underneath or slightly behind you, in line with your hips and shoulders.

Run from Your Core. Many women I work with suffer from hip problems while running. Often this is caused by weak core muscles, which aren't strong enough to keep the hips and pelvis aligned. To reduce injuries, it's vital to keep your pelvis level. You do this by engaging your core muscles while you run.
To level your pelvis, try this simple exercise: Stand against the wall and try to press your lower back into the wall. Watch what happens to your pelvis. You have to engage your lower abdominal muscles in a vertical crunch movement. Remember that feeling in your body and try to maintain it as you run.

Relax, Relax, Relax. It's common for runners to tighten up their shoulders or other muscles as they get tired. But all that stiffness and tension wastes energy and makes you less efficient. When you feel your technique slipping, ask yourself: Where am I tense, and what can I do about it?
Sense and respond with the correct adjustments, which might be as simple as straightening your arms and shaking them out or reminding yourself to lower your shoulders. In my book, I recommend a series of pre-run body looseners--such as shaking out your arms and legs, ankle rolls and hip and pelvis circles--to help your muscles learn to stay relaxed when you are running and throughout the day.

How hard is it to change your running technique?
Some coaches say you can't change your running form, but I don't believe that for a second. But it does take time to break inefficient habits. So, you'll need to slow down your pace at first to focus on the basics. Practice makes perfect. The more you practice, the quicker you'll learn it. For the average person, it takes one to three months for his or her muscles to learn something new.

Devote at least one run a week to technique. Don't listen to music or talk to a friend; instead, think about your body position and alignment and make adjustments throughout your run to stay relaxed and move efficiently.

Learning ChiRunning is like learning to ride a bike--once you get it, your muscles remember the movement, and it becomes intuitive. You'll feel a difference in your body once you get it. Many women have told me they suffer less hip, back and knee pain once they switch to this technique, in addition to increasing their endurance and speed. Hopefully, you'll be able to run for years to come.
Danny Dreyer is a running coach and author of ChiRunning: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless, Injury-Free Running. For a schedule of ChiRunning workshops or more info, visit


Andy Bowen said...

Hey Chad,
Nice post, especially the focus on technique by turning off the iPod. I try to focus on technique at all times, which isn't always easy.

You certainly can change your form, and often you need to incorporate stretching and strengthening of the hips, glutes and core, which take the pressure off the hamstrings and makes it easier to do all the good stuff, like lean forward, mid foit strike, bended knees and so on.

I think it is something you can always work on and alway improve on.

Keep it up,

Chad said...

Hey Andy! Thanks, I am glad to say taht even now my glute and hip are tight, but I continue to try to pull back and recover before it becomes a full blown injury, also a part of the process in my running life. Chi running is a challenge for sure, as it is a practice in patience.
I have speed work to work on for sure as well, I hit some pretty tight times, but at the cost of my old weaknesses. Chi would say keep your strides much smaller, and get your core stronger. I am still learning!

Kenley said...

Thanks for the info man. I can see how chi running would make sense logically. However, I have been running the same for a while and have not been injured at all. If it's not broke, why bother fixing it? Well, I would however like to give it a go some time. I have been actually experimenting with it off and on. What I have found that when I run faster and take more strides, I tend to not hit the ground with my heel at all. Feels great like I have more springy power, if that makes sense. It feels like a rotating force. Thanks for the info. Now that I have completed my weight loss goal for the year as mentioned a long time ago, I think I will seek out lighter shoes. The 2150s that I have now, seem like I am running with marshmallows on my feet, too much cushion, if that makes sense. lol. The extra cushion that use to help me is now holding me back. As usual, long comment. sori. I should just go write a post. lol. Take care and God Bless man.

Kenley said...

Btw, what is your stance on barefoot running? Would you try it out or have you already?

Chad said...

I think Barefoot running is a good option for those who are able to do it without any concern for their foot health. I unfortunately have thought about it and realize that my orthotics would have to be left behind. Either that or strap them to my feet with duct tape. :(
Ill probably post about ti soon, as I think it is an amazing concept to get back to basics.