Feel sore or as if your running form is getting sloppy? Try the Chi form of running – for a change. Quite frankly, coaches are divided as to whether it’s worth changing running form, but most of us say that if you do consider changing it, start by incorporating changes in drills before you run and build strength and flexibility in your whole body to support the changes. For example, building strength in your core muscles and strength and flexibility in your hamstrings will help your overall running form.
So what’s Chi (pronounced chee) running? A concept with origins in the ancient martial art of T’ai Chi, Chi running is a concept of techniques and training principles developed by Danny Dryer to help you stay free of injury. Dyer wrote Chi Running: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless, Injury-Free Running. The Chi form focuses on preserving energy efficiency and is based on the physics of body mechanics. Basically, the form reduces the impact on your joints and allows your leg muscles to work less when you run.
Dryer’s Chi method addresses five main points of form. They are:
Run Tall. Hold your spine straight so your joints are in alignment and your skeleton is supporting your weight. (When runners slump and bend forward at the waist, their leg muscles rather than your overall skeleton supports most body weight.)
Lean Forward Slightly. By doing this you use gravity to propel yourself forward – not just your legs. This lean also helps keep your body in alignment, with your foot landing under you – not in front of you. So – lean from your ankles, not your waist, and keep your spine straight. (But don’t lean so far forward you are out of control or actually falling!)
Land on the Mid-Foot. While you’re running, land with a mid-foot strike. You want your foot to land underneath you, in line with your hips and shoulders.
Run from Your Core. Engage your core muscles while you run. Strong core muscles help keep the hips and pelvis aligned. (Keep your pelvis level while you run.)
Relax. Tightening up your shoulders or other muscles can waste energy, making you less efficient. To help you relax, before you run do ankle, hip, and pelvic circles. While you run, shake out your arms and hands, and do a few neck circles.
As Dreyer says, practice makes perfect!