Running is a fundamental human skill, both for physical and mental well-being. Running well is an integral part of all sports. Running fast, running a lot, and being able to do so without collecting injuries is crucial to being able to train, to compete, to play. Have you ever really thought about how your are running? What framework or standard are you using for your running? In this article we will learn the basics of a system for efficient running that is safe, effortless and pain-free.
During extreme stress, humans do one of three things:
and the most efficient way of flight is.. Running!
The misconception of “good running technique”
What does good running look like? You have probably never thought about it? Perhaps you get a feeling for it: “it looks easy” “it looks effortless”.
Running is just like breathing – just because you can do it – does not mean that you are doing it well or that it cannot be improved.
About Hating running
Some athletes simply HATE RUNNING. Countless times I have heard: “I do CrossFit because I don’t like running.“.This is completely WRONG. That kind of thinking is a guaranteed to injure yourself. I promise. Please prove me wrong!
Locomotion is the ability to move from one place to another, simply put: movement.
In Episode 32 of The FLAWD Pocast, Carl Paoli suggests that: locomotion is a key skill. In episode 28 FMS Ninja: Stuart Elwell talks about human progress through movement. From being born, we learn supine (laying on our backs), learning prone (laying on our tummy), rolling between supine and prone, quadruped (on all fours), crawling, sitting, kneeling, squatting, vertical stance, gait (walking) and once you have gait you have the ability to run. As it turns out running is a progression for being human, we are evolved to run.
One of the most efficient and comprehensive systems/frameworks for running well is called Pose Running, created by Dr. Nicholas Romanov. Pose running is also what is being taught at CrossFit Endrucance Seminars (now PSE), and as CrossFit Speciality Course: Pose Running. We had two great coaches in pose running on the podcast: Ep 16 Jeff Ford and more recently Ep 31 with Valerie Hunt. I suggest you listen through those episodes to learn even more information about the pose method of running.
80% of runners are injured!
Some estimate that nearly 80 percent of runners are injured each year. So how did one of our greatest strengths become such a liability?
“The data suggests up to 79 percent of all runners are injured every year,” says Stephen Messier, the director of the J. B. Snow Biomechanics Laboratory at Wake Forest University. “What’s more, those figures have been consistent since the 1970s.” Messier is currently 11 months into a study for the U.S. Army and estimates that 40 percent of his 200 subjects will be hurt within a year. “It’s become a serious public health crisis.”
In Sweden there are about 1.7 million runners which means that about 1.3 milljon swedes are injured right now!
What are the “running industry” doing to help runners? Even though we are seeing a slight change in recent years the industry is slow. Always follow the money! The industry of running is huge! Just consider that 4 billion USD is spent annually on shoes! Why would they offer you any solution that will give them less money? However it is slowly changing and shoe makers are realising that the foot is not some random thing we have to carry around, it is one of the most ingenious inventions of nature! The foot is simply ingenious in so many ways, mainly it has an arch, (almost all humans have this arch more or less) , an arch has the weight distributed over the whole structure which reduces weak points. An arch is springy, solid and super strong!
Some years back there was a small revolution with “barefoot” or “miminalist running”, mainly thanks to Chris Mcdougals book: Born to run. All of a sudden everyone (including myself) where running in minimalist shoes, in vibrams and barefoot. Which is really good, but we moved to fast, from zero to 100 and some people got injured, and now I noticed a contra movement with extremely padded shoes! 🙂
As it turned out it was hard to run barefoot, it was painful, and it takes an large amount of patience to build up barefoot running strength. Especially in adulthood, so people gave up and wanted the quick fix, thinking – it must be the shoes! Shoes are like tires on a car – to protect ourselves from glass and other things we do not want to have in the foot. We have a whole episode (in swedish) talking to Magnus from Freefoot about the importance of using minimalistic shoes. To heal your feet – be more barefoot. If you are using a shoe with a lot of support, do not jump into a zero-differential shoe, adjust and ADAPT slowly to minimialistic shoes. WHY?! If you are running barefoot for instance , you have to run “efficient” you cannot bump your heel – it will be painful!! 🙂
Check out this short episode from Jeff ford about shoes:
Remember occams razor , the simplest solution is most likely the best solution. And complex shoes is not the solution! I am sorry – but you have to change!
Introducing: The Pose Method
Is running really a skill that I can improve? YES! Lets review the theory behind pose running. The Pose Method is based on the research of Dr. Nicolas Romanov. It is sound, safe and makes sense.
The real game-changer is the attitude we adopt in our lives as runners: the conviction that we are responsible for taking care of our running machines like a master mechanic would. There are many factors in successful running, but Brian Mackenzie boils it down to 6 in his book: Power Speed Endurance.
The 6 factors for successful running.
Ground Reaction Force (GRF)
Lets discuss each of the basic principles in order.
All human movement is gravity-dependent. Gravity is the most powerful force we can harness. Gravity always win! 🙂
There are 4 forces of nature
The four fundamental forces of nature that we know (Larsson, 2010) quoting my own research I just had to do it! :). They are:
The nuclear force, which is the strongest of the four but its range is limited to submicroscopic systems, such a as nuclei.
The weak-interaction force which primary role is in interactions involving certain radioactive elementary particles.
Electromagnetic force, which exists between all charged particles. It is the dominant force in microscopic systems, such as atoms and molecules and its strength is 10-2 compared to the nuclear force.
The gravitational force, which is the weakest the four forces. However it is the dominant force in macroscopic systems, such as the solar system. This is the only force that we have to consider in the context of training and improving running. How does gravity effect me as a runner?
“Natural running” is free falling,
You fall and catch yourself over and over. Instead of pushing off the ground, we shift our General Center of Mass (GCM). This means that the more we fall, the faster we run, and this is the most crucial physics concept of the pose method. The basic idea is that, as you fall forward, you lift your foot up, and you keep lifting your feet, and keep falling. With each stride, you are using gravity to propel yourself forward. Leonardo Da Vinci was the 1st to recognise gravity as a propulsive force, when he stated,
“motion is created by the destruction of balance, that is, of equality of weight for nothing can move by itself which does not leave its state of balance and that thing moves rapidly which is furthest from its balance”
“Gravity is there, and it drives us forward, but we immediately kill it by the way we run,” he says. “Just by not being that killer, you can have 10 per cent more energy for free.” Kanstad. –
The more we embrace gravity, the easier it is to run.
2 Ground Reaction Force (GRF)
In physics, and in particular in biomechanics, the Ground Reaction Force (GRF) is the force exerted by the ground on a body in contact with it. GRF is the striking force of the run. If you land on Ball of Foot (BoF) with your leg under your GCM, you minimize the impact and increase propulsion, allowing you to keep up with your leaning position, so that you can maintain motion. Basically it means – be on the ground as little as possible with your feet!
3 Muscle (Tendon) Elasticity (MTE)
Muscle elasticity is the muscles ability to stretch or contract when forces are applied and then return to their natural state once the force is released. Imagine jumping rope on heels – try it – ask yourself why. There IS NO elasticity there. The muscles on the calf, achilles tendon, ligaments work together with the foot to help your body impacts from the ground. Sometimes this is called MTE for Muscle Tendon Elasticity.
4 Muscle contraction
Muscular contraction and muscle elasticity work with each-other. The more elasticity you use the less muscular contraction you need. Lets take an example: if you land on BoF and allow heel to kiss the ground (key!!), the muscle elasticity cushions your impact and reduce muscle contraction. However if you land on heel first (then rolling your foot) you have taken muscular elasticity out of the equation, and you are not cushioning the impact with muscles of your foot. This also means that you are not transmitting more force through your ankle, knee and hip, you also have to recruit MORE muscles to carry out the movement.
5 Gravitational Torque
Torque is a hard word (in swedish we call it: vridmoment, moment) and we use it ALOT in training CrossFit, lifting things, it is a key for you to maintain: Structural Integrity of your body in everything you do. In running, torque is created when your GCM passes beyond your base of support. This is to avoid you from falling on your face, you need to keep accelerating to maintain forward motion and you do this by shifting from one foot to the other in a cycle. This acelleration produced by alternating your feet is the torque that you are applying to your body.
Think of a car, Once you are in motion, it is easier to maintain that pace because you are using the momentum of your body to your advantage
Practical Application of efficient runnning
3 Concepts for efficient running.
Establish a figure fourg position, which is also known as the “pose,” this is the point during a stride when your foot passes under your GCM and you make the shape of the no. “4” with your legs. You should be balanced on the BoF (ball of foot). The heel can be touching the ground (read kissing the ground), but the weight should be supported on the ball of the foot. This sets up the rest of the stride.
Loss of balance, movement. Maintain stability
The fall happens when you let go, use gravity to your advantage and just fall.
Dynamic stability. Shifting support from beginning to ending position.
This is when the supporting foot is pulled, instead of pushed! From the ground and movement continues. The rear leg is still bent but coming off the ground. Neither foot is in contact with the ground at this point. If you are in the air (not in contact with the ground), you cannot get injured.
DO NOT DO Heel or Midfoot Landing
Striking the pavement with your heels is the same as pulling the handbrake — over and over — on the freeway. Doing so is a high-impact habit that transfers a great deal of stress throughout the body.
Focus on a midfoot strike, as you would if you were running barefoot.
According to a study published in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, barefoot runners experience significantly less impact than runners in shoes because running barefoot forces a better strike. The minimalist approach also builds foot strength, minimizes peak forces and increases proprioception (or general awareness of your body), according to research published in Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews. And it helps you take advantage of the natural “springs” built into your body by your ankles, Achilles tendons, arches, knees and hips. Want proof? Try running on your heels. Barefoot.
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Thank you for reading and listening! You are awesome! 🙂
About the author : Peter
Peter is Podcaster, CrossFit Coach, Security Professional and productivity expert. He is the founder of FLAWD.se and the author of Security Encyclopedia: SakerhetsBibeln.se. Peter blogs about health, technology and productivity. Peter is on a mission to help you to Focus, implement success disciplines and to Win in life!