WHAT IS CHI RUNNING? (all taken from the Chi Running website)
Since 1999, ChiRunning has helped thousands of runners transform their technique - reducing, preventing and recovering from injuries. Runners of all ages and levels have improved their efficiency and performance, and now find running to be pain-free, easier, and enjoyable. The main principles of ChiRunning include:
- Correct alignment and posture
- Landing with a midfoot strike
- Using a "gravity-assisted" forward lean
- Engaging core strength for propulsion
- Connecting the mind and body to prevent injury
- Flexibility: You need to have it, not only in your muscles, but in your tendons, ligaments, and joints. They all work better when they move with flexibility and any restrictions in your muscles, ligaments, or tendons will limit your range of motion, period. As we get older we tend to become less active. A good axiom that best describes this is: "Use it or lose it." If you don't use your muscles and joints they will begin to stiffen and then, if you still don't do anything, atrophy. Flexibility doesn't just happen, you have to work at it. Even stretching a few minutes a day is enough for most people to maintain a good range of motion and decrease their chances of injury due to muscle pulls.
- Good posture: Your running technique is totally dependent on your posture. The efficiency of your running technique is directly proportional to the quality of your posture. What is good posture? According to Yoga teachers, along with many other mainstream body movement disciplines, good posture involves having a reasonably straight spine with not too much straightness and not too much bend. The more you slump, the more your body's muscles need to work to hold you upright. Poor posture not only restricts the circulation of blood to your muscles and organs but also inhibits the oxygen supply to your brain.
- Good leg motion: Having too long of a stride, or "over-striding," is a major cause of both hamstring and knee injuries. This is when you land with your feet in front of you instead of under you. Not bending your knees when you run will create stiffness and poor circulation in your legs. Your knees should be bent at a 90º angle when you are warmed up and running at a good, medium pace.
- Cadence: Most people have a low cadence, or the number of strides you take per minute. When you run, you want to spend the least amount of time on your legs as possible. The longer you take with each stride, the more time your foot spends on the ground, and the more energy your legs have to expend to support your body weight. Even if it's a split second during each stride, it adds up quickly when you're talking about 1200 steps per mile. Strive to maintain a cadence of 85-90 strides per minute with each leg. Using a metronome is a great way to regulate your cadence - try it and you'll be amazed. It can truly transform your running.
- Body Sensing: Listening to your body is key to preventing injuries. ChiRunning helps you understand why you're feeling sore, tight, or in pain and teaches you how to solve the problem.
- Good mental focus: Making changes takes mental focus. If you want to run faster, farther, and injury-free, you'll need to use your brain to re-educate your body. When you determine the right adjustments to make to your running form, your mind can tell your body what to do until it becomes part of your muscle memory. Not only can this save you some pain (and a few trips to the physical therapist), it can also be meditative to become deeply attuned to your body’s sensations.
- Good upper body/lower body coordination: The general rule is that your upper body and lower body should be doing equal amounts of work. For most runners, this 50/50 ratio is tilted one way or the other. When your upper body and lower body are working in unison rather than against each other, it spreads the work of running over the whole body and takes the load off of any single muscle group. It's similar to the principle that work is best done if the responsibility is spread out over many workers.
- Good breathing habits: Watch a baby breathing sometime. You won't see his chest rise and fall with each breath. You'll see his abdominal area expand and contract like someone breathing in and out of a balloon. It's called "belly breathing", and it's how we should breathe all the time. When your breath is shallow, you only use the very upper part of your lungs and don't take advantage of your total lung capacity. Oxygen is what your muscles use to convert stored fuels into usable energy, and any reduction in your oxygen uptake will effect your ability to burn glycogen.
- Proper bend in your knees and elbows: The less you bend your arms and legs, the more work your muscles have to do when you're running. An arm or leg that is bent at the knee or elbow will swing much easier than one that is straight. As you approach your "cruising" speed, your forearms and shins should both be parallel to the ground in mid-swing.
- Staying relaxed: This includes having a good sense of humor, observing what's going on within you and around you, and responding wisely to those observations. When I'm relaxed I reduce my chances of straining a tight muscle. Tense muscles restrict the range of motion in my arms and legs, making it hard to run faster. A relaxed runner will spend less time recovering from a race than an inefficient runner who is burning more fuel for the same amount of distance.
WHAT DOES THIS ALL MEAN?
By learning to adapt your body in new ways, you can learn to move your body to move more effortlessly and also reduce the chance of injury
- The app-chi running has many videos and such built into it for use
- 3 gears of running: 1st: warmup/easy, 2nd: close to tempo 3rd: speedwork
- Feet face straigth ahead- easier to say but this was one of the first things I worked on. if youa re moving forward, everything needs to move in the same direction
- Tripod on foot-metatarsal points and heels. You want to land on the ball of your foot to help with the midfoot strik
- Form focus-feet/lift from crown/relaxed knees, see shoelaces to align hips- this how your posture should be. I have been working on this so much it has helped my every day posture
- Dantian is located in the middle of the stomach on your belly button. Can move it around (like tai chi). Move it more forward to go forward.
- Relaxed ankle : You want to make sure that you are lifting your ankle limp versus focusing/forcing it up
- SHORT STRIDE - this is so hard for me because I have long legs. a shorter stride is more economic
- relaxed shoulders- I keep my stress in my shoulders so I have to focus on relaxing them
- Arms are in a V- arms stay close to you but arent so close to your body that they are touching
- Arms don't cross mid point- as you swing your arms, they dont cross over your body.
- Small lean- the more you lean forward, the more gravity will help you move forward
- Swing left arm the same way as right- this is personal to me-I swing my right arm more which is probably what has caused my shoulder pain in the past
- Hit the ball of your foot at bottom of the tripod- the tripod from earlier should hit at the same time first, no heel striking
- Keep hips and legs relaxed- by loosing your body, you can move it more efficently
- Pelvic twist to help with hip rotation- this is something I can do! By adding in a pelvic twist, it helps with hip rotation and turning
- Dantian to pull you forward- use your Dantian to move you forward (think of it like spidermans web from his arms)
- BREATHING: 5 (out 2, in 3) in second gear and 3( out 1, in 2) in third gear- this is great. Everyone always says to focus on breathing but this is a techinque so you arent always breathing in and out in the same foot
- Dantian is the axis of the body-upper half is ahead and legs are behind- its the middle of the body. the upper and lower half are in sync but are doing different things. Your feet should land behind you and your upper body using gravity can pull you ahead
- Speed comes from strong core and more lean: I have been focusing on my core and will continue. When I want to go faster, I need to just lean more forward (the lean is so hard for me to get!)
This is definitely a work in progress but I got the steps to help me out. I was able to test some of it out the next day at the Coaster Run 10k and I definitely can see how I get better.I did great in the Pacific Half Marathon using the techniques as well! I am working on relaxing my shoulders, having a midfoot strike by focusing on hitting the ball of my foot, keeping my arm swings level, my pelvic twist/hip rotation and adding in my lean to move forward. A lot to think about but I am focusing on different things on different intervals which helps.
Anyone else follow Chi Running?