As humans we were born to run, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t need to work on improving our running technique. In fact, over the past few decades, many running techniques have been recommended, each promoting a certain style.
One of the most popular methods is the Chi running method. Experts from this running style claim that it’s the best way for more efficient and injury-free running.
What Is Chi Running
Chi running is a mindfulness-based running technique inspired by Tai Chi, the ancient Chinese martial art.
The benefits are nice and simple. By putting our attention on our running form and technique, the running process will help us reduce stress on our body. This may improve our speed, reduce injury risk and make training much more enjoyable.
Chi Running may help promote a more natural running technique that works with the laws of physics instead of against them.
According to some research, some scientists concluded that the method did reduce loading on the hips and knee, but it can also increase the loading on the ankles.
This might be a great running option for runners with a history of hip and knee issues.
Chi Running method might also improve efficiency and produce less impact when compared to other common types of running styles.
So What Should You Do?
We should try Chi Running and see how our body feels. If we feel like our running has improved, then we should keep doing it. If not, then we simply go back to what we have been doing.
The Principles of Chi Running
To practice Chi Running, we should try implementing the following form signals
1. Run Tall
The main rule of Chi running comes down to alignment. The method requires proper posture with the head, shoulders, hips, and feet aligned. When aligned, it will help reduce the work that our body has to exert to keep standing and propelling forward.
Proper posture reduces the amount of work our muscles exert and move more efficiently.
2. Lean Forward
Adding a slight forward lean while running lets our body fall forward. This lets gravity help with propulsion instead of just our legs.
The forward slight lean will also force us to hit the ground on the ball of our feet instead of our heel, which may reduce injury risk.
The lean also helps us maintain proper body alignment, allowing our feet to land under us.
But one issue is when most runners lean forward, they tend to do it from the waist, which is a big mistake.
To do it right, we need to tilt our body forward and lean from our ankles, not our waist, so that gravity propels us. We should remember to keep our back straight. Also, we need to avoid leaning too far forward as it might cause us to lose control and fall.
3. Engage Your Core
The Chi Running method involves running with a level pelvis instead of a forward-tilted pelvis, which is common in the running world.
To keep our pelvis level, we need to embrace our core muscles while running. To practice this, we can visualize leaning against a wall and try to press our lower back against it to master a level pelvis. This can help us shorten our stride, which is key for preventing overreaching and heel striking.
Having proper core strength is essential for preventing injury.
Performing core training like different versions of Planks, Russian Twists, V-Sits , Bridge, and many other core exercises will help us build that core strong. A strong core will help maintain proper posture when running, and keeping this good posture is essential for all runners.
4. Land on The Midfoot
Heel striking happens when our foot hits the ground too far ahead in front of our hips.
When we run with a heel strike, we’re putting on the brakes on each step we take. This increases the stress through our muscles and joints, which in turn puts us at a higher risk for injury.
To practice proper Chi running, we should aim to land with a mid-foot strike. We can do this by taking fast and shorter strides.
Running with a mid-foot style may help take the brakes off and reduce the impact. This might help us run more smoothly and improve our running economy.
5. Relax Your Shoulders
For most people one of the first places to feel tension is the shoulders, if ours are beginning to be closer to our ears, it’s time to relax.
If we tend to sit for hours at our computers every day, this will lead to a natural posture of rounded shoulders.
In the same way, we tend to round our shoulders while we’re running and feeling fatigued. And what happens because of it, we close off our airways.
How to Relax our Shoulders
Take a deep breath and sigh, you should feel your shoulders drop immediately.
Throughout the run do this to eliminate energy wasted in shoulder tension.
Dropped shoulders will open your chest up for better breathing while running.
6. Efficient Arm Movements
Many beginner runners hold their arms against their sides, up to their chest while running. This actually requires 12% more energy than letting them naturally swing.
Long-distance running form, such as running a marathon or Ultramarathon, is different from the form for sprints.
While sprinters need to pump their arms fiercely through a full swing, distance runners are saving energy with small movements.
Being an efficient runner for long-distance running is essential, we need to conserve all the energy we can so it can go to our legs.
Here are a few arm movement tips to keep us from swinging across the body or too hard, both of which can lead to IT Band and other injuries.
Imagine holding a butterfly wing or between your thumb and pointer finger.
Hands in a light fist with palms facing towards your body.
The thumb tip is thus pointed forward and the thumb knuckles towards the sky.
This hand placement helps to prevent cross-body arm swing, which is an injury magnet
Arms should stay bent at the elbows at a roughly 90-degree angle, forward and back.
7. Relax Your Body
Many runners start tightening their shoulders and other muscles during a run, especially when fatigue sets in. This is a big mistake because tension wastes energy and limits running efficiency.
On the flip side, when we’re relaxed, we’re saving up our energy and making sure we’re not working against ourself. That’s from where our energy should come in Chi running.
8. How To Add Chi Running Into Our Running Routine
The best way to change our running technique is gradually.
Behaviour change can be challenging, and it takes time and practice to break away from old movement patterns. This is especially the case when it comes to our running form.
It’s not going to happen overnight.
We will need to keep our first few runs slow to focus on the principles. The more we practice and train, the faster we’ll develop and form the movement patterns.
It might take us 4 to 12 weeks for our muscles to get used to a new movement pattern for most runners.
We should devote one session per week to technique. Not thinking about our pace, we should talk to a friend, or listen to music.
Energy goes where attention goes.
Instead, we have to pay attention to our posture, and make the necessary changes to make our run move more efficiently.
9. Practice Tips
We should practice one principle at a time. Once we build up the movement habits, it will become intuitive, and we won’t have to think about it anymore. Each movements, to practice one at a time, our body will get used to it naturally and it will sink into our brain.
Good Chi Running Form, Better Run, Less Injuries, More Fun And Faster!