Technique: Head Position When Running

The head position is a crucial point in making the muscular system of the whole body engaged in a specific way. It could be more efficient or less efficient and balanced depending on the head position orientation. As a consequence, the movement of the body could be more efficient and better balanced or not.

Head

The reason for this influence lies in the anatomical and physiological structure of the head. With such organs as vestibular apparatus in the ears and cerebellum, directly defining and regulating the body’s position in space, the head has an exceptional influence on any movement. This regulation is accomplished by and through muscular work. First of all, through the neck’s muscles, which provide balance of the head, and extend their influence on the rest of the muscular system of the body.

The importance of this regulation of movement comes from very simple things. One of them is the relation of the body with support. What we call a balanced position of the body is actually the position of the body on support. It is a fundamental characteristic playing an undeniably important role in movement. Muscle work happens in the most efficient way when the body weight is on directly on support.

The head position is directly involved in this regulation and therefore defines all the muscular connections and movement of the body. When the head deviates from a proper position (tilts left or right, back or forward) then muscles engage in a wrong coordination and the body shifts from the support. That means that the movement of the body deteriorates as well.

These seemingly simple and obvious relations are violated very often. It most likely comes from having a blurry perception of the head position stemming from general unawareness of the body and weakness of the neck muscles, etc. Majority of people that enjoy running could do very well by going back to basics and sorting out their postural alignment when standing and walking.

 

Eyes

Our eyes exert tremendous influence on our head and body position as well. A common question and sometimes a point of contention is how far ahead are we supposed to look. Is it 5, 10 or more meters ahead or all the way to the horizon? What is the optimal length of our eyes’ focus? Opinions on this matter vary quite a bit, with many different suggestions based on different ideas, but all of them have only anecdotal evidence and very weak theoretical base.

The look of the eyes making your head position efficient isn’t related with any fixation on anything or any distance ahead. Instead it is related to perception. In martial arts this look is called: “you look, but do not see anything”. You should be ready to perceive information, but be not fixed on it. It allows you to keep the body position and muscular system in a ready condition.

Body Alignment

I guess it will be no surprise, if we say that the head position should be along the straight line going through the shoulder, hip and ball of the foot, providing for the body minimum muscular tension (just enough to keep the body at this position) perception of a stable balance and the pressure being on the ball of the foot.

This position is like that of the walking position of some tribal African women carrying heavy objects on their heads. This walking style is distinguished by smooth movement with low vertical oscillations of the body, allowing them to carry heavy objects for long distances. These women seem to carry themselves with outstanding posture and their movement looks very graceful.

These are small rules for the head position in movement and running that provide the foundation for efficient movement.

About the Author

Dr. Nicholas Romanov is the developer of the Pose Method®. A passionate proponent of higher level of education in athletics, Dr. Romanov dedicated his entire career to sports education, scientific research and coaching. An Olympic Coach and a bestselling author, Dr. Romanov has taught on all continents and visited almost every country in the world.
[ Click here to learn more ]

CONTINUING EDUCATION + LIVE SEMINARS + LOCAL CLASSES

Pose Method® 2-Day Educational Seminar is approved for 16 contact hours towards continuing education for Certified CrossFit Trainers and Physical Therapists. Athletes and parents of school age children are encouraged to attend.

The Pose Method® system is a combination of online learning, live seminars and local classes making it the most effective solution available to health and fitness professionals as well as anyone who enjoys an active lifestyle.

Training: Remedy for Fatigue When Running

“What do I do when I get tired when running?” This question came up and it reflected a very interesting mind-set regarding performance from coaches and athletes. Indeed, what can we do when fatigue emerges when we run? Do we have some options in how to deal with fatigue? Obviously not many options exist, nevertheless many coaches and athletes “hope” that there are some magic tricks to go around. Some choose to gamble by using something yet unknown to science.

Is it a question “what do I do?” when a tennis player, swimmer or any other athlete in any other sport get tired during their performance? Do they ask to stop the game or exit the race for a moment to get some rest? Not at all, no one has that kind of luxury, because this is the essence of sport – to find out who can overcome the most obstacles, including fatigue, in order to win.

Then, what can we do when we get tired when running? The answer is as simple as it is complicated.

First the complicated part. It comes from the complex nature of fatigue, which is never just physical fatigue, but has mechanical, anatomo-physiological, psycho-emotional, mental, and spiritual parts. Which one of these states is more “tired” is very difficult to identify, but there is something known from our experience and science about the relations between these parts and their influence on each other.

 

Psycho-emotional aspect of fatigue appears much sooner, long before real energy exhaustion in the physiological component of fatigue steps in.

 

Generally, from science and experience it is well-known that the psycho-emotional aspect of fatigue appears much sooner, long before real energy exhaustion in the physiological component of fatigue steps in. Our psychology reacts in advance trying to “prevent” the danger of growing fatigue and to convince our mind to stop the performance. Therefore the brain receives lots of signals of fatigue in the form of burning sensations, pain, and reduced strength of muscles.

Focus on the Action

How do we deal with this psycho-emotional component of fatigue? Simple, our mind has to (and I am emphasizing this) stick to the action. In different sports it’s a different thing, but the meaning remains the same. Action is something that allows us to continue our performance. In running, from the Pose Method concept point-of-view, it is the action of pulling the foot from the ground. Do we have any other option, or some trick to continue our performance? The answer is, clearly, no.

 

Action is something that allows us to continue our performance.

 

Our ‘business’ is to keep our mind from exerting a discouraging influence of our negative emotions connected to the signs of growing fatigue. We must remain focused on the action of pulling so we don’t have the opportunity to dwell on what feels like danger to our life, and prevent our mind from recruiting defensive mechanism of the body to shut down our performance. Our mind is supposed to stay focused on the action no matter what is going on in our perception. In the Pose Method of running the only action to stick with is the action of pulling the foot from the ground while you are falling forward from the Pose.

This and only this focus of your mind will allow you to avoid unnecessary energy expenditure and keep utilizing it into your running no matter how fast and long you run. It is the essence of training and racing performance.

 

About the Author

Dr. Nicholas Romanov is the developer of the Pose Method®. A passionate proponent of higher level of education in athletics, Dr. Romanov dedicated his entire career to sports education, scientific research and coaching. An Olympic Coach and a bestselling author, Dr. Romanov has taught on all continents and visited almost every country in the world.
[ Click here to learn more ]

CONTINUING EDUCATION + LIVE SEMINARS + LOCAL CLASSES

Pose Method® 2-Day Educational Seminar is approved for 16 contact hours towards continuing education for Certified CrossFit Trainers and Physical Therapists. Athletes and parents of school age children are encouraged to attend.

The Pose Method® system is a combination of online learning, live seminars and local classes making it the most effective solution available to health and fitness professionals as well as anyone who enjoys an active lifestyle.

Theory & Practice: Flexibility vs Stretching

In general, people have the impression that flexibility = stretching. That flexibility is just as simple as stretching your muscles in order to lengthen them to get a bigger range of motion. People misconceive that after stretching, we can relax our muscles, and by doing this, prevent our injuries.

This is what we have been taught, educated by press, articles and books in the fitness field. There is a long-standing misunderstanding of what flexibility is all about.

FLEXIBILITY ≠ STRETCHING

Flexibility

Flexibility, (“flex” means “bend”, or ability to bend) as a bio-motor capacity, is the ability of your joints to bend during movement. This is provided by three elements: joint mobility, elasticity of tendons and ligaments, and ability of our muscles to relax, which allows us to increase their anatomical length.

Mobility of joints is something we mostly inherit, so development of joint mobility is a difficult task. The situation with ligaments and tendons is better, because of their ability to increase their length through elasticity. However, there is a limit to both elements because of their autonomy from the influence of our brain, which cannot regulate their state of flexibility.

Muscles, on the other hand, are directly connected with the brain and their most important function is to contract and relax. Knowing this, we can assume that we can directly and indirectly regulate muscle relaxation during movement.

Stretching

I could not track down the origin of the reason for association of this term with flexibility. Perhaps, it came from a visual image of flexibility exercises, where it looks like we are pulling our muscles to make them relax. I don’t think our muscles like any violent approach to making them relax. On the contrary, our muscles do not like any special efforts made to lengthen them and react to these attempts by becoming tense; the muscles contract in order to prevent hyperextension, as you can probably recall from your own experience. Nevertheless, millions of people exercise stretching, moving in the wrong direction of damaging their own muscle tissues.

Muscles contract and relax. When you stretch them – they actually lose a bit of elasticity for a brief period, so you intently and intentionally weakening your musculoskeletal system instead of strengthening it. Stretching your muscles on regular basis will have lasting effects, but not the ones you’re looking for.

Why don’t our muscles work this way? Because they obey your body’s movement as a whole, where muscle activity and relaxation is used to serve the desired movement. So our muscles contract or relax according to the body’s needs to make this or that movement, but not as an isolated function. When we just “ask” them to relax, by stretching them in a separate movement, they do not understand this action. Our brain does not allow the muscles to stretch independently without their involvement into the movement of the body. Pulling your own muscles is the straight way to injuries or to muscle soreness, at the least.

 

Try our full flexibility development program. Start your FREE TRIAL now >

How to Develop Flexibility

What would be the best way to develop our flexibility? First of all, do not stretch your muscles – ever. What I propose for this matter, I call, “Action Flexibility”. The essence of it is very simple, work with or through your mind.

Your ability to bend is achieved through your mind and muscles. It involves them into the movement you want to do. Muscles will contract & relax on their own. This will produce the movement, or relaxation in their reciprocal relationship, so that not to resist the movement being performed.

Therefore, our brain makes this precise regulation about which muscle is supposed to work and which is supposed to relax. Following this simple logic, we can see, that our ability to relax and flex depends on how much we can focus on production of the movement, without any consideration of muscle tension or relaxation.

Try This Exercise

Do a simple test by bending forward, keeping the knees straight, in order to touch the floor with your fingers or hands. First, what will cross your mind, will be a concern about the hamstring muscle tension, which gives you a signal that this movement is a dangerous activity. This is normally what your body’s and mind’s reaction is – a safety issue, a survival instinct.

But you have to be free from these precautionary reactions and keep your focus on the action (doing) of what you want to do, which is to bend forward and touch the floor with your fingers. To put simply, worry about touching the floor, not stretching your muscles. Certainly this action requires you to overcome your basic reflex – fear, but this the only true way to develop your flexibility. Do not stretch your muscles – do the action, touch the floor!

About the Author

Dr. Nicholas Romanov is the developer of the Pose Method®. A passionate proponent of higher level of education in athletics, Dr. Romanov dedicated his entire career to sports education, scientific research and coaching. An Olympic Coach and a bestselling author, Dr. Romanov has taught on all continents and visited almost every country in the world.
[ Click here to learn more ]

CONTINUING EDUCATION + LIVE SEMINARS + LOCAL CLASSES

Pose Method® 2-Day Educational Seminar is approved for 16 contact hours towards continuing education for Certified CrossFit Trainers and Physical Therapists. Athletes and parents of school age children are encouraged to attend.

The Pose Method® system is a combination of online learning, live seminars and local classes making it the most effective solution available to health and fitness professionals as well as anyone who enjoys an active lifestyle.

Theory & Practice: Athlete’s Muscles

I hear discussions of muscles and fibers and I wonder if people participating in the discussion are talking about doing something or is it a theoretical discussion of anatomy. If you’re studying anatomy or have scientific interest in the topic of muscles, tissues and fibers then it makes sense, but if you’re an athlete of any level or a coach – while it might satisfy some curiosity, it won’t serve practical purpose.

Types of ‘Knowing’

Within the context of athletics and training there are things we need and don’t need to know in a sense of practically useful information. It is human nature to want to know. However, just because we’re curious about various layers of muscles, it doesn’t mean we need to know, or that that type of knowing will be practically helpful for performing a specific task. As a matter of fact, certain types of information prevent people from seeing the big picture. It’s ok to amass information, but it is also important to not lose sight of the correct hierarchy of things.

Knowing various types of muscle fibers or singling out various muscle groups, their structure and their function will not make a practical difference and will not make you a better athlete. If you want to be better at running, throwing, jumping, lifting, swimming, etc – what you need to know is how to do it and what specific action(s) to take to make it happen.

Ego VS Body

Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, our body, our muscles “know” what they need to do and they do it. Our problems begin when we insist on controlling every aspect of our body moving in space and time. Add to that the fact that most people either have zero instruction or the wrong instructions on HOW to move and it is not difficult to see the potential mess we can get into.

While we think about what we assume our muscles should be doing in order to move our leg this way or that way, and we think of what muscles should be firing or working – our body and its constituent parts have already not only activated the necessary parts, but most likely have already finished the job, too. The speed of our thought, no matter how fast we assume we think, is a lot slower than any interaction that naturally goes on within a human body. So, unless it is your intent to slow yourself down, think only of the action that needs to happen to promote a particular task at hand, i.e. if you want to run, think only of pulling your foot up to change support. The rest of the elements of a particular athletic activity should be worked on and brought to the level of autopilot in training sessions.

‘Big Picture’ Hierarchy

The most logical place to start the hierarchy of movement is our environment. Our movement is not a random and independent twitching of muscle fibers. Our whole body is at the mercy of natural forces that make up our world and are ruled by gravity. It holds everything together. Gravity is the starting point.

Gravity gives us bodyweight. No gravity -> no bodyweight -> no movement. Gravity less than on Earth -> same body different weight -> dramatic changes in basic movement (Ex.: running turns into hopping)

Dr. Nicholas Romanov, founder of the Pose Method, demonstrates how our active muscle efforts are useless without the presence of body weight. How do you use your muscles when running? Have you ever been told to “fire your glutes”? In this video, watch how your muscles can be rendered useless when you can’t apply your body weight.

Muscles’ Purpose

All muscles are equally important. We should not take our body apart – these muscles are for running, these fibers are for speed, these are for cycling, and these are for lifting, etc. This is not how it works. This confusion comes from lack of understanding of how our body operates. Each muscle and muscle group perform their own important function, and, as we can see, they are all connected. All muscles work in sync. The synchronization includes the entire body and extends all the way to our heartbeat.

Now let’s zoom out to see the big picture. Muscles, along with tendons and ligaments, hold the whole body together and provide an intricate network of mechanisms that allow movement. ‘Allow’ is the keyword. Without our bodyweight, the same network of muscles still provides the same mechanisms yet movement either does not happen at all, or looks very differently.

As far as movement is concerned, our muscles mean nothing without our bodyweight. Muscles do not create or initiate movement. Muscles play the supporting role.

 

Recommended:

 

About the Author

Dr. Nicholas Romanov is the developer of the Pose Method®. A passionate proponent of higher level of education in athletics, Dr. Romanov dedicated his entire career to sports education, scientific research and coaching. An Olympic Coach and a bestselling author, Dr. Romanov has taught on all continents and visited almost every country in the world.
[ Click here to learn more ]

CONTINUING EDUCATION + LIVE SEMINARS + LOCAL CLASSES

Pose Method® 2-Day Educational Seminar is approved for 16 contact hours towards continuing education for Certified CrossFit Trainers and Physical Therapists. Athletes and parents of school age children are encouraged to attend.

The Pose Method® system is a combination of online learning, live seminars and local classes making it the most effective solution available to health and fitness professionals as well as anyone who enjoys an active lifestyle.

Theory & Practice: The Role and Importance of a ‘Standard’

We use the word ‘standard’ on daily basis, we’re all very familiar with its meaning. Here’s a quick sample of the meaning given in a dictionary just so we’re on the same page:

standard |ˈstandərd|
noun
1 a level of quality or attainment
2 an idea or thing used as a measure, norm, or model in comparative evaluations: the wages are low by today’s standards | the system had become an industry standard.
• (standards) principles of conduct informed by notions of honor and decency: a decline in moral standards.
• a form of language that is widely accepted as the correct form.
• the prescribed weight of fine metal in gold or silver coins: the sterling standard for silver.
• a system by which the value of a currency is defined in terms of gold or silver or both.

 

 

 

Standard Exists Everywhere

A ‘standard’ is, basically, an approved and generally accepted model of something, a rule or principle that is used as a basis for judgment, an average or normal requirement, quality, quantity, level, grade, etc. When Apple develops their gadgets – they have a standard they follow. When car makers build their creations – they follow standards in car manufacturing.

There are standards being taught and displayed in all sports. Not all are necessarily correct, according to my understanding of movement and in my humble opinion, but there are standards nonetheless. In running, however, we are all suddenly unique and all have different techniques and styles. Does that not sound a bit strange? It does. And it is. Of course we are all unique individuals, but let’s not confuse our personalities and styles with technical standard in movement.

Benefits of Having a Standard

What does having a ‘standard’ offer us when it comes to human movement in sports, and in general?

  • Precise model to learn. With a standard model to learn, a student avoids the potential pitfalls of a wandering mind. Experimenting on top of a learned standard is quite different from experimenting without the basic foundation. While the first is full of advantageous discoveries, the latter is full of confusion and easily avoidable mistakes.
  • Precise model to teach. If there was no standard, all teachings or attempts to teach would be disorganized, scattered, unfocused, etc. There would be no way to determine what’s a mistake and what is not. There would be no way to offer clarity of the subject to a student. Teaching would be an impossible task.
  • Ability to identify and correct errors. This is probably one of the most important attributes of any model of any ‘standard’. When there is a clearly identified and put forth model for a standard, any deviation from that standard is easily seen. That is precisely the definition of an ‘error’. In order for something to be labeled an error there has to be a clear standard according to which something is classified as an error. One does not exist without the other.

The claim that there is no correct running technique or any other correct sports technique is unfounded and is not supported by science. Moreover it does not make any sense. Unless we figure out how to defy gravity or it suddenly changes the way it works – we will abide by its current standard of operation that has not changed since our planet came into being.

The laws of operation of all natural forces with gravity at the helm consequently lead to a particular set of rules in movement of a human body. This standard branches out into standards in human movement when participating in various athletic activities or simply moving around. Movement related misuse injuries and pain are our signals that we’re deviating from the already existing standard of movement. Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, won’t change this standard. Plain and simple.

 

 

Recommended:

 

About the Author

Dr. Nicholas Romanov is the developer of the Pose Method®. A passionate proponent of higher level of education in athletics, Dr. Romanov dedicated his entire career to sports education, scientific research and coaching. An Olympic Coach and a bestselling author, Dr. Romanov has taught on all continents and visited almost every country in the world.
[ Click here to learn more ]

CONTINUING EDUCATION + LIVE SEMINARS + LOCAL CLASSES

Pose Method® 2-Day Educational Seminar is approved for 16 contact hours towards continuing education for Certified CrossFit Trainers and Physical Therapists. Athletes and parents of school age children are encouraged to attend.

The Pose Method® system is a combination of online learning, live seminars and local classes making it the most effective solution available to health and fitness professionals as well as anyone who enjoys an active lifestyle.

Theory & Practice: Gravity + Movement

Gravity is mentioned everywhere – advertising, articles, news, etc. It is talked about in relation to what seems to be a random selection of things like treadmills and some other exercise equipment, shoes, even bras, and a few other curious products. All of that is great yet based on the information mentioned along with the popular word ‘gravity’ shows that gravity is still very much the elephant in the room and it is treated as something that “applies to this but not to that”, “it is here, but not over there”. Fact is – gravity is in the very matrix of our world, gravity is a silent dictator that rules it.

Gravity came before anything else. In order for our solar system to have come into existence, gravity had to have been already present. Here on Earth, gravity is in effect 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, never letting up for even a second. Gravity does vary across the surface of our planet but it is there nonetheless and the differences are not significant enough to affect the way you move. Gravity is everything and it is everywhere. “The most essential characteristics of all biological systems are defined by the Universal Law of Gravity”, wrote a Russian scientist and academic P. Anokhin.

Gravity is the most valuable factor of life on this planet because life as we know it, is impossible without gravity. Without it we couldn’t move the same way, we wouldn’t look the same way, we couldn’t breathe, and we wouldn’t have the air to begin with. The influence of gravity shapes and structures all living creatures including human anatomical and physiological structure, size and weight.

All human movement is gravity-dependent. Whether you’re running, swimming, walking to your car or reaching for milk in your refrigerator – you’re moving under the influence of gravity. Try this, stand straight, relax, feet slightly apart, knees relaxed (not locked, not bent), arms down, upright and relaxed posture. Now shift your body from one foot to another without breaking contact with the ground. Do you feel your bodyweight? That’s how we feel gravity. Wherever we go, whatever we do – it’s always there. But it doesn’t just pull us down like so many would insist. It does so much more.

Leonardo da Vinci was the first to recognize it as a propulsive force, “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 most rapidly which is furthest from its balance”.

Four centuries later, Thomas Graham-Brown expanded on da Vinci’s thoughts, writing, “It seems to me that the act of progression itself – whether it be flight through the air or by such movements as running over the surface of the ground – consists essentially in a movement in which the centre of gravity of the body is allowed to fall forwards and downwards under the action of gravity, and in which the momentum thus gained is used in driving the centre of gravity again upwards and forwards; so that, from one point in the cycle to the corresponding point in the next, no work is done (theoretically), but the mass of the individual is, in effect, moved horizontally through the environment”.

Gravity should be considered as the dominant force on Earth, the strongest mechanical force among all the forces of nature and therefore any movement on Earth is both influenced by, and subordinate to, gravity. Before we can really improve our sports techniques and consequently beat personal bests or world records, we must first acknowledge the effect of gravity on human locomotion and then try to understand it and how it works.

About the Author

Dr. Nicholas Romanov is the developer of the Pose Method®. A passionate proponent of higher level of education in athletics, Dr. Romanov dedicated his entire career to sports education, scientific research and coaching. An Olympic Coach and a bestselling author, Dr. Romanov has taught on all continents and visited almost every country in the world.
[ Click here to learn more ]

CONTINUING EDUCATION + LIVE SEMINARS + LOCAL CLASSES

Pose Method® 2-Day Educational Seminar is approved for 16 contact hours towards continuing education for Certified CrossFit Trainers and Physical Therapists. Athletes and parents of school age children are encouraged to attend.

The Pose Method® system is a combination of online learning, live seminars and local classes making it the most effective solution available to health and fitness professionals as well as anyone who enjoys an active lifestyle.

Theory & Practice: Muscle Elasticity

What is muscle elasticity? If you were to stretch a muscle you would see it shrink back a bit. In plain words, it’s a natural ability to recover to original form upon the removal of the force initially applied. In physical activity it is the ability of muscles to perform work, specifically, to contract rapidly after and immediately prior to extension.

A human body is a mix of physics, geometry, psychology and all that good stuff, so we should not talk about muscles and their function as separate from the whole. Muscles are a part of our entire system, and as such, whatever functions they perform or whatever is going on, it does not happen on its own. There is a whole chain of processes happening.

What is Muscle Elasticity

So, actually, ‘muscle elasticity’ is an incorrect term to use. Muscles do not work independently, nor do they work under our command. The sooner you let go of what you imagine you control, the sooner you will discover what you do control and consequently you will move better.

In Pose Method all of the key elements that are of any significance or benefit are brought together. Everything is connected. The center of the method, the Pose, is the most ‘ready to go’ pose of the body facilitating optimum elasticity allowing for the most effective interaction with the support where the entire musculoskeletal structure is ‘loaded’ with potential energy.

When we talk about muscle elasticity what we should be discussing is a ‘muscle-tendon complex’. Tendons play a very important and active role in this process, but the muscles run the show, yet let’s not forget that the true master is gravity.

Muscle-tendon Elasticity Complex

The concept of muscle-tendon elasticity complex is a relatively new one and research with the correct goals is much needed. There are, however, already some very certain and obvious facts about muscles and tendons and how they work together making for a unique system. For example, it is a fact that tendons can stretch more than muscles. It is most likely because tendons were meant to stretch and muscles weren’t as much, muscles were meant to contract and relax.

Speaking of tendons, let’s mention the Achilles tendon, the biggest tendon in our entire body, which just happens to be located at the ankle, which is part of the ‘mechanism’ of movement like walking, running. So instead of being concerned with overloading the largest tendon of the body during running (if it is the largest tendon, is it not logical to assume that it was meant to and it can handle the loading during running? It’s not the loading it is how it’s done that causes the problem), why not question the integrity of the idea of loading the joints (knees) that were obviously meant to simply bend, yet it is often recommended to actively use them in some many other ways.

It is a requirement in Pose Method of running to keep knees slightly bent at all times, why? Besides the fact that joints bend and should not be in locked positions when in motion, especially during running, bent knees help to absorb the shock during movement. It is also a part of the ‘rules’ of the muscle-tendon elasticity complex.

How It Works

Muscle-tendon elasticity complex is the natural ability of your musculoskeletal system to ‘return to its original state’. When the limb of your body is moved in any way in any direction for any purpose, muscles and tendons accommodate by elongating or shortening at various key spots. When we move our limbs back to where the movement had started, it is easy to notice how everything goes right back to its shape and form, and place. When we pull the foot up with the hamstring we work with this mechanism.

Muscles and tendons work in unison and in tandem, each one however, with its own timing doing its own job. As should be expected and as mentioned above, muscle-tendon complex has ‘rules’. In order to ‘activate’ the complex and benefit from it, one must adhere to those ‘rules’ otherwise the effectiveness of the complex is dramatically minimized or completely lost. And worst of all – injuries happen. Muscle tears and tendon ruptures are consequences of breaking those rules and performing moves out of synch with gravity.

Muscle-tendon complex, like so many other processes in our body, happens in space and time. It is a rhythmic work of muscles & tendons combined with rhythm of loading. And, it is a biomechanical law that guarantees the magic – with high cadence muscles ‘come to life’, so to say, and work at the highest level of their elastic function. Without much effort on your part your body continues forward movement. Elite athletes, most of whom are naturally highly talented, instinctively run with high cadence. Their perception allows them to naturally sense the ease of movement provided by it.

With age muscle-tendon complex naturally changes, but the decline in elasticity is less for active people than for non-active. So keep moving!

Check out progressions of drills and exercises in our video program for runners aimed at developing your muscles’ elasticity to help you become a better runner.

Read more about muscle-tendon elasticity complex in the Pose Method of Running.

Did you know? The payoff to “elastic” running is that you can maintain a high stride rate without “going anaerobic” and using up your body’s available energy supply of ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate), the fuel of your highest intensity sprints. Elastic running gives you the ability to run faster for greater distances and still keep something in reserve.

References:

  1. Alexander, A.M., 1988, Springs as energy stores: running. Elastic mechanisms in animal movement. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, pp. 31-50.
  2. Cavagna, G.A., Saibene, F.P. and Margaria, R., 1964, Mechanical work in running, J. Appl. Physiol., 19:249-256
  3. Cavagna, G.A., 1977, Storage and utilization of elastic energy in skeletal muscle. Exercise and Sport Science Reviews, 5, 89-129.
  4. Cavagna, P.R., La Fortune M.A., 1980, Ground reaction forces in distance running, J. Biomech, 13:397-406.

About the Author

Dr. Nicholas Romanov is the developer of the Pose Method®. A passionate proponent of higher level of education in athletics, Dr. Romanov dedicated his entire career to sports education, scientific research and coaching. An Olympic Coach and a bestselling author, Dr. Romanov has taught on all continents and visited almost every country in the world.
[ Click here to learn more ]

CONTINUING EDUCATION + LIVE SEMINARS + LOCAL CLASSES

Pose Method® 2-Day Educational Seminar is approved for 16 contact hours towards continuing education for Certified CrossFit Trainers and Physical Therapists. Athletes and parents of school age children are encouraged to attend.

The Pose Method® system is a combination of online learning, live seminars and local classes making it the most effective solution available to health and fitness professionals as well as anyone who enjoys an active lifestyle.

Theory & Practice: Stride Frequency and Muscle-Tendon Elasticity Complex

Stride frequency is one of the most important parameters of running technique. Why is stride frequency so important? Why do we pay so much attention to it?

The frequency of our strides in running is really nothing more than the rate at which we change support from one foot to the next. When we change support, we start free falling and let the force of gravity accelerate us forward. Yes, gravity is a force that, here on Earth, is always directed downwards, but it is not correct to say that gravity acts downwards. It is better to say that on Earth gravity pulls objects towards the centre of the Earth. So no matter where you are on Earth all objects fall to the ground. However, in combination with objects and other forces, in running, gravity is the leading force in movement forward.

Acceleration due to gravity is a constant, but our ability to take full advantage of gravity’s pull is a function of our body’s free fall and our stride cadence. If you fall forward and don’t move your foot to create a new point of support, you will quickly find yourself face first on the ground. Lean very slightly and you can move your foot slowly to prevent hitting the ground. You’re still falling forward – you’re just not falling down. Increase the angle of your fall more and you have to move your feet faster to avoid hitting the ground with your face.

The less we do to counteract gravity, the less is the load we place on joints, ligaments and tendons, which in turn reduces our chance of injury.

The faster we change support, the less we do to interrupt the gravitational pull and the faster we run. Even better, the less we do to counteract gravity, the less is the load we place on joints, ligaments and tendons, which in turn reduces our chance of injury. It really is that simple.

The faster we run the higher is the stride frequency. The fastest 10K runners, for example Haile Gebrselassie or Kenenisa Bekele, in a final lap could run with up to 240 steps per minute, while fastest sprinters like Usain BoltTyson Gay and Wayde Van Niekerk are way in 250-280 range and above.

The magic number

So what is the minimum number or maximum number are we talking about? The answer for maximum is quite obvious – the higher the better. If you can go 200+ more power to you.

The lowest number recommended, however, is 180 and the idea behind it comes from research conducted back in the 60s. Such or higher level of frequency allows to use the elastic property of our muscles which doesn’t ‘activate’ until you reach it. It was shown by same scientific research that usage of elastic properties of muscles reduces oxygen consumption around 20% and increases efficiency up to 50%.

Interestingly, Jack Daniels, the respected American coach, noted in his book that there is data from his many years of practical observation that indicates elite runners tend to run with a stride frequency of not less than 180 strides per minute.

Additionally, a recently conducted research concluded “increases in step rate can substantially reduce the loading to the hip and knee joints during running and may prove beneficial in the prevention and treatment of common running-related injuries.”

Learn and practice it

So the benefits are right there, but how do we learn it? First we need to understand and learn to perform stride frequency as a part of running and that it serves the process of falling forward. We couldn’t move forward if we were to just pull the foot from the ground, we need to lean forward first. So lean first, pull the foot from the ground second.

Then we need to learn to pull the feet from the ground, and concentrate the efforts on feet only, not the legs, just feet. And learn to use hamstrings.

You can find a whole list of exercise for that in the Pose Running book and the video series. You can use downhill running with slight inclination. Run with the partner’s slight push on your back with his/her hand or pull with the elastic bands.

It is very helpful to use a metronome-like device to help you maintain the appropriate pace. And as you progress you can move the speed up to continue your development process.

Strength training

This is the topic where the importance of strength training for runners becomes apparent again. While it is true that running itself does develop some of the strength necessary, to fully take advantage of what’s already on offer by nature, a bit of effort is required on our part to bring it all together. Specialized strength training doesn’t take much but will give plenty in return.

It is important to remember, however, that high stride frequency does not demand a huge muscular effort. On the contrary, you should avoid unnecessary effort and tension. Improved strength of your muscle systems will allow you to quicken your movements and reduce the amount of time you actually spend on support, the faster you pick your foot off the ground, the faster you will run.

Read about stride frequency in greater detail in “The Pose Method of Running”.

References:

  1. Effects of step rate manipulation on joint mechanics during running. Bryan C Heiderscheit, Elizabeth S Chumanov, Max P Michalski, Christa M Wille, Michael B Ryan; Medicine and science in sports and exercise 02/2011; 43(2):296-302
  2. Alexander, A.M., 1988, Springs as energy stores: running. Elastic mechanisms in animal movement. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, pp. 31-50.
  3. Cavagna, G.A., Saibene, F.P. and Margaria, R., 1964, Mechanical work in running, J. Appl. Physiol., 19:249-256
  4. Cavagna, G.A., 1977, Storage and utilization of elastic energy in skeletal muscle. Exercise and Sport Science Reviews, 5, 89-129.
  5. Cavagna, P.R., La Fortune M.A., 1980, Ground reaction forces in distance running, J. Biomech, 13:397-406.

About the Author

Dr. Nicholas Romanov is the developer of the Pose Method®. A passionate proponent of higher level of education in athletics, Dr. Romanov dedicated his entire career to sports education, scientific research and coaching. An Olympic Coach and a bestselling author, Dr. Romanov has taught on all continents and visited almost every country in the world.
[ Click here to learn more ]

CONTINUING EDUCATION + LIVE SEMINARS + LOCAL CLASSES

Pose Method® 2-Day Educational Seminar is approved for 16 contact hours towards continuing education for Certified CrossFit Trainers and Physical Therapists. Athletes and parents of school age children are encouraged to attend.

The Pose Method® system is a combination of online learning, live seminars and local classes making it the most effective solution available to health and fitness professionals as well as anyone who enjoys an active lifestyle.

Injuries: To Ice or Not

Icing was always a part of athletes’ life, but never to the extremes it is today. It almost seems to be the most recommended treatment for injuries, especially so in running. One can find heat application being recommended also, but not nearly as much as it should be and sometimes not for the right reasons. To say the least about strength exercises recovery, massage and such.

Icing or cold therapy with ice is recommended primarily for numbing the pain and reducing the swelling. Since pain is our body’s signal that there is a problem and swelling is reduced by freezing the tissue, in reality icing does nothing more than masking the problem and deflecting your attention. Unless there is an open wound and blood needs to be stopped or there is a need to drop the body temperature (fever, overheating), application of ice to a human body is really not a good idea.

While majority of us agree that icing does not carry any healing qualities, some go as far as to state that icing helps with overuse injuries and painful joints. To stop the overuse injuries one should examine his technique and training, applying an ice-pack won’t make technical problems go away. Your joints will do better, when treated with warmth. The reality is that cold from ice does not penetrate deeper, than the top layer of your muscles, directly under your skin. A human body has to maintain a certain temperature to live. If the temperature drops below that – the body stops functioning. So if icing could really reach your joints to ice them, you’d be in trouble and have some dead tissue on your body.

 

 

Living tissue does better with warmer temperatures. It heals better and faster and it weathers the distress of an injury better. Application of ice to the injured area might temporarily relieve you from feeling pain and freeze the tissue to stop the blood flow to reduce the swelling, but that will also stop the healing process. In order to heal itself, your body needs the blood to flow through the injured area. Strangely enough, today, it is considered a bad thing by many. But why would anyone get in the way of healing their injuries? Why first stop the natural healing by freezing everything with ice and then try to artificially re-initiate it with medicine? Why not do it right from the beginning?

Next time you have an inflammation, instead of icing it, try applying a flat-cut piece of room temperature raw potato slice to the affected area or a warm compress soaked in apple cider vinegar. If you wish to take any medicine – take one aspirin. Next time you get a bruise, rub it immediately through the pain instead of applying ice, and you will notice that the pain associated with the bruise will lessen a lot quicker than usual and the skin discoloration will be a lot less, if it happens at all.

It will serve you well to always remember that icing has a rather narrow purpose and limited usage, and you can absolutely do without it. As a matter of fact you will help speed up your healing if you skip the “ice therapy”. Next time you have an injury, and let’s hope that it doesn’t happen, but if it does, don’t ice it. Instead take care of it with one of the treatments described above and then take a hot bath with apple cider vinegar or go to sauna (which has always been hugely popular in Russian and European athletic circles) before calling it a day.

There are many ways to deal with injuries and application of ice is just one, small and rather insignificant step that is not necessary as often as it is recommended nowadays. Unless your injury was caused by a random accident like hitting something, or tripping and falling, your next move is to break the unproductive cycle of repeating your mistakes and address errors in your technique, that are causing your injuries instead of numbing the pain and hoping the injures would just go away.

 

About the Author

Dr. Nicholas Romanov is the developer of the Pose Method®. A passionate proponent of higher level of education in athletics, Dr. Romanov dedicated his entire career to sports education, scientific research and coaching. An Olympic Coach and a bestselling author, Dr. Romanov has taught on all continents and visited almost every country in the world.
[ Click here to learn more ]

CONTINUING EDUCATION + LIVE SEMINARS + LOCAL CLASSES

Pose Method® 2-Day Educational Seminar is approved for 16 contact hours towards continuing education for Certified CrossFit Trainers and Physical Therapists. Athletes and parents of school age children are encouraged to attend.

The Pose Method® system is a combination of online learning, live seminars and local classes making it the most effective solution available to health and fitness professionals as well as anyone who enjoys an active lifestyle.