Just go out and run. Don't think about it. Just move your legs faster and faster. Work harder. That's all you need to know about running, or is it?
The running industry goes to great lengths to provide support for our feet, to cushion the pounding on our legs, and to, supposedly, make us run faster. If that's true, then why are so many runners experiencing running injuries like plantar fasciitis, achilles tendonitis, pulled hamstrings, blown out knees, you name it? Could it be that all these high-tech shoes do is further degrade our running form and give rise to further injuries?
I began to think a lot about this when I started to study Pose running about two years ago. Pose running, or running on the forefoot, is about total awareness of your body's running form. Pose is simply the proper form of running that employs gravity as the force for forward movement coupled with proper leg-foot mechanics to enable injury free running. The Pose is more fully explained by visiting Dr. Romanov's Pose website: www.posetech.com. Another forefoot running style is Chi Running, which can be found at www.chirunning.com. I don't know anything about Chi from firsthand experience, but both of these sites explain the philosophy and styles of running injury free utilizing a form of running on the forefoot rather than the heel strike. The bottom line for either of these methods of running is that they're not new running methods at all. Instead, these methods reveal how we were meant to run - how humans ran for thousands of years.
Before running shoes took off in popularity in the '70s, we ran in pretty much anything that gave us minimal protection for our feet, or no protection for those who enjoyed barefoot running. If running had been all that bad for us before we had running shoes, then we should have expected running shoe technology to have turned us into super runners with zero injuries. That's just not the case.
What the running shoe has done has taken us from forefoot running, which allows the ankles and knees to absorb the shock of running as they were designed to do, and turned us into heel strikers, which suddenly overloads our legs, creates an unnatural roll through our feet, and damages our knees and hips. These days, running injury free is NOT the norm and a whole field of medical study is devoted to helping injured runners.
I just started reading Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. In my quest to learn more about the book before buying it, I came across dozens of websites that further support the idea that forefoot, mid-foot, or even barefoot running are natural ways for us to run. Check out some of these websites and the author's thoughts on the subject:
The Atlantic: Vindication at Last! by James Fallows
NatureNews: A Softer Ride for Barefoot Runners
Forefoot Runningby Al Kavadlo
I also came across some other websites that studied these methods and discounted, in large part, the need to make wholesale changes in running form. One site in particular, click HERE to read, argues that Pose running may alleviate the injuries to the knees, but increases the loading on the ankle thus setting the conditions for Achilles tendonitis. The site further notes that there's a decrease in running efficiency when testing overall cardiovascular endurance after 12 weeks of Pose running. Of course the shorter stride length inherent in Pose running will require higher outputs and turnover. This might be one reason why Pose hasn't caught on, but that's mere conjecture on my part.
I'm a huge advocate for reducing, even eliminating, injury through proper form, whether this is with lifting, rowing, running, or bodyweight movements. Sometimes, an immediate change in form will result in greater efficiency, higher power output, and zero injuries. Other times, as with running form, immediate changes in form can create injuries rather than fix them. I know that, for me anyway, my first foray into Pose running led to tight calfs and pain because I wasn't doing it right. I encourage those with running challenges and injuries to explore and experiment with forefoot, or even barefoot, running. Start out slow, introduce the body to the new style with short runs, change up shoes to those that promote this style of running, and ease into a new form of running that will, over time, allow you to run injury free.
In the months to come, we'll hold some running workshops. We'll video your style. Work on skill drills. Do short training runs. Quite simply, we'll provide the tools to enable you to experiment and decide whether you want to further explore the forefoot-running movement for yourself. In the meantime, pick up a copy of Born to Run and learn about the most unbelievable runners in the world.