Training: How to Keep Good Running Form for Long Distance

Long distance running seems to be a world away from sprinting. But if we look at the essence of running – they are one and the same. Running is running. While different distances do require different training plans, the running technique used, however, is the same. Your body’s mechanics and the work of gravity do not change based on the distance you decide to conquer.

So what are the major points of maintaining good running form for long distances?

Maintain Focus

Similarly to middle distance and short distance, first and foremost – maintain focus. Great running, after all, like excellence in golf, gymnastics or ballet is really a physical manifestation of extremely strong mental ability.

Remain completely and entirely focused. That is a practice area of its own and should be included in your regular training regimen. Do not allow your mind to wander. Many use long distances to “escape” from daily burdens and stress but the only way to maintain good form is to stay focused on your technique, especially when you’re just starting out.

Once you get into technique work more and after you’ve drilled and practiced for a while, your body will ‘memorize’ the pattern of required movement but in order to not stray at any point, maintaining focus on what you’re doing will still be necessary, especially so when running a long distance event, and, doubly so when running an ultra.

Do This Move

When running long distance, the longer the distance the more opportunities there will be for your technique to fall apart. In running, from the Pose Method point of view, there is only one actionable element that is entirely under your control – pulling (of your foot up). That is where your main focus should be. Using the mental command to pull will help you maintain necessary cadence and will help you to keep moving. If you experience pain you will also be able to adjust the technique on the go in order to eliminate the problem.

One of the most difficult obstacles will unquestionably be fatigue. As it sets in it will have an effect on your senses, on your perception. Maintaining focus on one action only – pulling – will be much simpler and easier and more effective than anything else you could attempt to do.

Pulling on time, pulling to maintain cadence will also help you to maintain short time on support. Fatigue leads runners to longer time on support which leads to increased load on entire body, knees will most likely feel it first. The action of pulling your foot up to change support accomplished by hamstrings, the workhorses of the runner, will be your ticket to finish line. No need to overload smaller muscle groups. This is where the importance of strength training gets highlighted again.

Stay Relaxed

The other important thing is to stay relaxed. Not “I’m on vacation” relaxed, but not tense, not agitated, not stressed. Everything is connected so maintaining focus on technique will keep your thoughts directed at one target and it will help you to stay together and not scattered.

The effect of staying relaxed will reverberate through your entire body. Your muscles won’t tense and spasm, your mind won’t go into distress mode – all things necessary to make it to the finish line miles and miles away.

Staying focused and relaxed will help you handle the psychological and physical stresses associated with long distance.

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

Learning about balance and proper running technique is part of the Pose Method® Running Course. This seminar offers 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: How to Train for Any Distance

The subject of training for specific distance in running is not as simple or “obvious” as it might seem. Whereas doing sprints while getting ready for 100m seems logical and reasonable, just because you’re preparing to run a marathon, doesn’t mean you should run one during training. I’m often told that it is counterintuitive but we’ll have to agree to disagree, besides it is never specified whose intuition is being used here as a standard. My own experience of over 40 years as an athlete first and then as a coach, my intuition, my understanding of this topic as a scientist and teacher, all make me follow the logic dictated by the processes involved, processes that I see, processes that inevitably lead to certain conclusions and approaches.

Training overall is a delicate process and requires much thought and preparation, and work. Training for a specific distance adds a layer of difficulty. It is crazy to expect such effort from anyone who is not training on a professional level. However, a bit of effort will go a long way, so in my articles I attempt to present such information in the simplest form possible to help you protect yourself from injuries and wandering off in the wrong direction. While some experimentation is healthy and can be fun, some of the uneducated guesses can carry heavy financial and health costs.

What is the Goal of Racing?

What is your final goal when you enter a race? Any race, no matter the distance? Simply put, the final goal of anyone running any race is to attempt to run that specific distance with a good resulting time, or at least faster than before. Even those that enter to merely ‘finish’, as they say, are still pressured by certain time constraints. The rules are (and they are clearly understood) that if you don’t finish within a specific time frame than you won’t get the finisher medal and instead will get the dreaded ‘DNF’. So as you see, even at the recreational level of racing, it is still a race and a question of speed.

However, simply running more miles will not make anybody a better or faster runner. Specific training will. That applies to sprinters as much as to marathoners and everyone else.

What is the Goal of Training?

Simply put, the goal is to be able to run a specific distance on a specific date. Preferably faster than last time. Maybe faster than a bunch of other people that will also be racing.

What is a Common Approach to Training?

Diluted by folklore, training process has become a foggy scenario where recreational runners obtain some numbers from someone who called those numbers a “training plan” and proceed to follow half heartedly that plan while missing some days, skipping some stuff, etc. The emphasis in such training is often put on running and running and running. I’m sorry to disappoint you but this is not a ‘10,000 hour’ thing, and even the 10,000 hours are not a real thing, so what is this idea of running and running and running? This is an oversimplified picture but it summarizes the confusion.

A common approach to training clearly shows the common opinion of what training is – a repetitive experience of doing. Doing something. A rather popular belief or an assumption that during training a runner should run the very distance he or she is training for has no scientific foundation. It is suggested that it helps prepare the athlete for the given distance by letting him/her “experience the load”.

The reality, however, is that every one of us can run any given distance, whether it’s 100m or a marathon. The only true question is – who can do it faster and incur less damage in the process?

The “experience” mentioned earlier is purely a psychological tactic to feel more secure and confident. There is no scientific basis there, no significant physiological advantage and there are better ways to get that feeling of confidence like, for example, improving technique. However, this psychological tactic has a strong potential to cause a lot of physical damage. If you’re attempting to train for a marathon by simply running and running, what you’re really doing is robbing yourself of progress, plus getting a little more and more of “wear and tear” with every pointless long slow run. Every such run has a potential of a serious injury besides not only being unproductive, but what’s more – being counterproductive.

What is a Better Approach to Training?

There are certain things about our body and mind, our personal energy level and perception that are not common knowledge among athletes and coaches, and especially recreational ones. Add to that hierarchical relations between combinations of short, middle and long distances used in training, and relations between speed and endurance and at this point you should be able to see how complex real training is. If those important aspects are not taken into consideration when training is being planned then it shouldn’t be called training and no particular or successful results should be expected.

One of the founding fathers of athletics in Soviet Union, Nicholai Ozolin, wrote in 1949: “Speed is the foundation of endurance.” While this is not widely accepted or even understood yet, the statement made all these years ago is pretty much the jackpot. The athlete/coach that understands it, gets the keys to the gates, i.e. to faster running on long distances.

In order for your training to be effective, whatever the distance, everything you do has to be aimed at the main event – a particular distance on a particular day. While it is simple to have a goal – the date of the race – it is far from simple or easy to figure out what needs to be done in order to get to that date and reach the goal.

Regardless of the distance you’re training for, the bulk of your training process should be focused on developing and maintaining proper form and your body should have the necessary level of strength developed. That alone will serve as a ‘life-saving’ foundation for your performance level. Additionally, you should dedicate your attention to developing speed.

Using the above mentioned as a foundation you can achieve solid progress or at the very least – stability. The better your technique, the longer you can keep on running. When selecting a race to participate in, remember, that whether it is a 5K or marathon – you can do it.

Proper training regimen and planning will prepare you for the race and save you from overtraining and injuries. A really good training program, along with a knowledgeable coach, will help reveal your full potential. In the absence of a coach, my new app or web based training plans might be what you’re looking for. Try them. It is build on the principles I described in this article. The best part is that you don’t need to wonder or guess – simply type in your data and follow the prompts.

Training Plans VS Training Programs

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

Learning about balance and proper running technique is part of the Pose Method® Running Course. This seminar offers 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.

5 Things You Should Know About the Running Pose

Every single person goes through the Running Pose when they go running, but not everybody is Pose Running. What’s the difference? Read on.

 

  1. There is only one (1) Running Pose. The Running Pose that you go through is identical to the Running Pose of the runner next to you at the local race, as well as an elite runner at the championship or Olympics. The Running Pose is the key pose that is the heart of the running cycle. It is a single instance of a moment of stability on support that allows continuous movement when running.
  2. The Running Pose is not the same as Pose Running. The Running Pose, which is the key body pose in running, is at the heart of Pose Running, which is short for the Pose Method® of running technique – the methodology for teaching and learning biomechanically correct running technique.
  3. The Running Pose is a discovery, but the Pose Method® of Running – is a proprietary technology that was developed. After years of coaching and teaching biomechanics at the university, researching and viewing hundreds of hours of footage of some of the best runners in the world, as well as recreational ones, Dr. Romanov discovered that all runners have one thing in common regardless of the skill level or distance – they all go through the Running Pose.
    In order to teach runners of all levels to eliminate the unnecessary elements of running that also cause injuries (like heel striking for example), Dr. Romanov developed a method – the Pose Method of Running
  4. Every single person who runs goes through the Running Pose, but not everybody is Pose Running. As mentioned above, everyone who runs goes through the Running Pose. However, not everyone runs using the Pose Method of Running. Since every single runner goes through the Running Pose, it is easy to take a single photo of a heel striker that happens to be photographed as he/she was going through the Running Pose.
    That is why video analysis is essential. The video reveals what happens before and after the runner goes through the Running Pose. And that is what makes all the difference. Some runners go from Running Pose to Running Pose, that is what the Pose Method of Running essentially teaches, and others land on the heel or flatfooted, roll through, then attempt to toe off as they also attempt to produce full knee extension thinking they are propelling themselves somewhere as they waste precious seconds and significant effort on completely unnecessary commotion all the while increasing the potential of injuries.
  5. To become a better runner all you have to do is eliminate the unnecessary movement between the Running Poses. As a runner, you already go through the Running Pose, so simply do less and not more, go from the Running Pose to the Running Pose. Isn’t it amazing that to run better, to reduce eccentric load on your knees by virtually 50% you are advised to do less?

About the Author

Lana Romanov is a Director of Certification and Continuing Education at Pose Method, Inc. Having studied and worked at the company since 2001, Lana develops and maintains the continuing education program for health + fitness professionals. She also writes short articles and assists with research efforts.

CONTINUING EDUCATION + LIVE SEMINARS + LOCAL CLASSES

Learning about balance and proper running technique is part of the Pose Method® Running Course. This seminar offers 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.

How High to Pull Your Foot Up When Running?

How high should you pull your foot up when running and with how much effort? To know the answer to this question, one has to understand the purpose of the action of pulling your foot up when running. This is where the importance of understanding the ‘why’ is highlighted again. Reading the theory and understanding it through and through is not about complicating what most of us wish was such a natural form of locomotion – running. Contrary to that common assumption and in my opinion, gaining full understanding of the subject is actually about gaining freedom. Freedom to effortlessly do what needs to be done because you know exactly what is happening, you know the rules and you can work with them at any speed on any terrain.

Required Height

To put it simply, the necessary height of the pull will sort itself out. You do not need to think about it, all you need to do is make a slight effort to pull your foot up high enough to clear the ground and so it allows for change of support because running is nothing but ‘change of support’ while falling forward. In the Pose Method of Running, the pull is the last element of the technique that allows for the most efficient transition from one foot to the other. All you need is to execute the action of pulling correctly – everything else will be done for you. Trust the natural forces.

Minimal Effort

Effortless running is achieved through biomechanically proper technique because such technique works with and uses the natural forces such as gravity. By its very definition, effortless running requires or should take less effort. So, if all we need to do is change support in order to run, then the ultimate goal is to do that action with the least possible effort. Narrowing down all required action to a single action of pulling in the Pose Method of Running gets us closer to running with less effort, and actively working just one group of muscles – the hamstrings – fits the purpose and serves it well.

You will notice that putting less intentional effort into pulling your feet up by utilizing the hamstrings only, will help you do it correctly. You will also notice that such an important thing as high cadence is easier to achieve, if you don’t strain to pull your feet all the way up.

Putting less intentional effort into pulling your feet up by utilizing the hamstrings only, will help you do it correctly.

The general rule is – you’re better off pulling your foot up less than more. If you pull too high and/or too hard you will waste energy and will tire your hamstrings and might get injured. Think about the typical injury for sprinters – pulled hamstrings. Keep in mind, that the exaggerated motion of the pull, demonstrated in the running drills, is strictly for learning purposes, to help your body learn better patterns of movement required for running.

What about other muscles? Leave them alone. All you need is to do one action – pulling your feet up with your hamstrings – to set everything in the right motion with minimal effort.

Various Speeds

When you run faster, your foot will end up higher. I say ‘end up’ because you are not supposed to be putting any effort into pulling it higher or leaving it lower. That’s too much to think about especially in sprinting where everything happens way before you can think about it. If you’re thinking about it, you are already too late.

When you run faster, your foot will end up higher.

(This is happening on its own and due to the forces already in play, Bolt is NOT PUTTING EFFORT INTO PULLING his foot up this high.)

There is no need to put any effort into forcing your foot so high. The entire trajectory of your foot will determine itself based on your speed. All you have to do is focus on maintaining your running pose.

At a slower speed your feet will be noticeably and naturally lower. When jogging, your running might resemble shuffling. Your feet will be at their lowest height of the pull.

 

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

Learning about balance and proper running technique is part of the Pose Method® Running Course. This seminar offers 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.

Usain Bolt Can Top His Own World Record

Usain Bolt could run 100m in 9.11 seconds. Given his constitution, genetics and his running technique he has what it takes and then some.

The difference between calculated potential and actual performance is the athlete’s ability to deliver and especially do so when it matters the most. For example, Bolt’s performance in Berlin in 2009 vs the following Olympics in London in 2012 – World Championship (9.58) vs Olympics (9.63). Less pressure vs more pressure, plus additional factors of course.

Everyone from fans and sports writers to former world record holders and astrophysicists have been speculating about human potential when it comes to dashing for 100m ever since Bolt clocked 9.58. However, all predictions seem to still only hover around 9.4 with the maximum human potential claimed to be at 9.36… nobody dares to even utter anything lower than that because just a ‘blink in history’ ago 9.58 seemed out of reach. Researches even announced that they had to reassess their calculations because they couldn’t have predicted Bolt.

That was in 2008, so all eyes were on 2012 and we were amazed with the new 100m men’s Olympic record of 9.63. But in the world of sprint it’s miles away from 9.36. Running at that speed is beyond most humans. At least for now.

Tracking the 100m world records through the years it’s almost painful to look at the tenths of seconds involved, and most humans couldn’t be bothered. After all, some of us blink slower than that. But, 9.11 is possible, and at this point and time, if anyone can do it – it’s Bolt. Yes, his physique is a factor, so is his character and mind. But most importantly – his technique, it is his gateway to greatness.

The calculations that produced the 9.36 as the maximum human speed were pure mathematics based on accumulated data of best times posted. However, to calculate human potential based on what humans have been able to achieve thus far is to severely limit that potential. In order to correctly assess the possible potential what we need is a correct and clear conceptual model. In our case, it’s a conceptual model of running.

According to Dr. Romanov’s calculations based on the Pose Method of RunningBolt is capable of running 100m in 9.11 seconds. Bolt has already demonstrated that his mind is as strong as his body. Yet to break his own records he would have to slightly adjust his technique and, most importantly, break through his own perception of his own potential.

There are no “handcuffs” stronger than the ones in our mind. He’s been talking about 9.4 for a while now. Though the world’s fastest man has been hampered by a recurring hamstring injury, which points to the fact that his technique is suffering and needs attention, he’s been able to produce great results and tonight he might surprise the world yet again. “I want to do more to make it even bigger“, a quote from Usain Bolt’s Olympic profile seems to point to his desire to achieve more. Well, he sure can. The only question is – will he be able to deliver?

Usain Bolt, the golden boy of sprinting, is set to entertain the world yet again. And there is nothing more fascinating and exciting than watching someone so gifted in action, racing towards greatness and looking to outdo himself.

I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do” he says. Well, young man, so are we. Godspeed!

Here’s a link to Dr. Romanov’s analysis of Bolt’s running technique and recommendations on what he needs to adjust in order to run even faster.

 

About the Author

Lana Romanov is a Director of Certification and Continuing Education at Pose Method, Inc. Having studied and worked at the company since 2001, Lana develops and maintains the continuing education program for health + fitness professionals. She also writes short articles and assists with research efforts.

CONTINUING EDUCATION + LIVE SEMINARS + LOCAL CLASSES

Learning about balance and proper running technique is part of the Pose Method® Running Course. This seminar offers 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: How to Increase Running Speed in One Simple Step

Whether you can maintain your newfound speed for the required distance, say 40 yards or 100 meters, is a matter of training and your skill level. Whether you can run faster than Usain Bolt is a matter of your physical stats and genetic potential (p.189) in addition to training and skill level.

One thing is for sure, however, whatever your current running speed is, you can run faster immediately by simply changing just one thing. Nothing else will give you the same result.

Traditionally recommended things for increasing of speed in reality prevent you from running faster. The higher you attempt to raise your knees, the harder your attempt to pump your arms or hit the ground, the more you attempt to push off and toe off – the slower you make yourself. All of those things require extra effort and throw you off balance, so you end up exerting more effort without any increase in speed. You, most likely, have experienced that and know how frustrating it can be.

What you really want to do is:

  1. stay relaxed yet focused,
  2. apply minimal effort and
  3. use natural forces to your advantage.

That’s natural running at its best.

Now, the question is: how do you use natural forces to run? To say ‘stay relaxed yet focused’ is to describe how you should feel not what you should do. So how do you instruct someone what to do in order to tell them how to run? That is what the Pose Method® of Running is all about. If you’re not familiar with it – go ahead and follow that link, it will make the following paragraphs clearer.

How to Increase Your Running Speed

Commonly given advice is more of an advice for a training session or on running form. You’re told to “warm up, stay upright, land on forefoot, focus on posture”, etc. While improving your running form will definitely make you faster and more efficient in general, it still doesn’t answer the main question – how do you actually increase your running speed? What do you do? Especially if you’re already in motion? Knowing how to do that will make all the difference during a race or the game.

Running faster is about your skill, not strength or power. A certain level of strength is absolutely necessary  in order to withstand such a physically demanding activity as running, but your muscles do not produce your speed. Muscles serve a different purpose.

To run faster you need to master just one thing – angle of falling. It’s your ‘gas pedal’. Fall forward more – run faster. Fall forward less – run slower. Within the Pose Method framework, that is all that needs to happen in order to unleash your speed. Your speed is under your command when you learn to operate with the angle of falling.

By-products of Increased Speed

When you increase your speed several things happen as a result. The important part here is to understand where your efforts should be applied.

  • Stride Frequency will have to be increased. To maintain speed and to prevent tumbling over you’ll have to change your support faster. This is one of the reasons that strength training is so important for runners. In sprinting it is the intensity of speed, in long distance it is the extent of miles to be continuously covered that necessitates the ability to pull and keep on pulling your foot up in order to keep changing support in order to keep moving. A good thing here is that stride frequency of 180 and above activates a natural muscle-tendon elasticity mechanism

    Keep in mind, that you can easily increase the frequency of change of support and still stay in one place. You won’t move forward until you introduce a degree of falling forward to your movements.

  • Magnitude of Pulling your foot from support and under your hips increases and do so by itself, i.e. no effort on your part is required. Due to increase in angle of falling and stride frequency, your foot will come up higher than normal, right under your buttocks. The key is to understand that you won’t need to do it, the inertia and other forces interacting will do it for you. In fact, the trajectory of your entire leg will map itself out.

Recommended Reading:

  • Gravity’s role in accelerated running – a comparison of an experienced Pose® and heel-toe runner. (International Society Of Sports Biomechanics, XXV11, 374-377, 2009)
  • Geometry of Running. (European College Of Sport Science, July 5-8, 2006 Switzerland)
  • Runners Do Not Push Off the Ground But Fall Forwards Via a Gravitational Torque. (Sports Biomechanics Journal, 2007)
  • Романов, Н. С. Роль силы тяжести в ускорении тела бегуна вперед / Н. С. Романов, А. И. Пьянзин, Е. В. Никитина, В. И. Васильев / Актуальные вопросы физической культуры и спорта: материалы Всероссийской научно-практической конференции. – Новочебоксарск: НФ РГУФКСМиТ, 2012. – С. 75–80 (0,31/0,08 п.л.).
  • The Independent Effects of Gravity and Inertia on Running Mechanics. The Journal of Experimental Biology 203, 229–238 (2000)
  • Muscle Activity in Running. The Extensor Paradox Experiment. Biomechanics of Distance Running. Human Kinetics Books, 1990
  • Bartlett, R., Romanov, N., Fletcher, G. A Case Study of Two National Standard Sprinters Completing a Pose and Traditional Sprint Start Technique. Journal of Athletic Enhancement, Vol 3; 2014 doi:10.4172/2324-9080.1000145

 

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

Learning about balance and proper running technique is part of the Pose Method® Running Course. This seminar offers 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: Warm-Up & Cool-Down for Runners

From my own experience I know that very often small yet very important elements of the training session structure, that is, the beginning, which is called warm-up, and the end, which is called cool-down, are ignored and neglected by majority of runners. Reasons (or we may say ‘excuses’) given for this are always numerous: from efforts to save time to just admitting plain neglect. In general, the attitude towards those parts of the training session is as if neither carry any significance so why bother. That’s a mistake. But then again, it’s only a matter of personal responsibility. If you think you don’t owe it to yourself to do things the right way and not the lazy way, then what can I say.

The Warm-Up

So, what kind of role does the warm-up play in the training session? The answer is obvious – to warm-up the muscles, ligaments and tendons, and, here’s the part that not many consider- to prepare the nervous and cardiorespiratory systems for the specific workout. Normally an athlete would spend (depending on the upcoming workout, outside temperature and his/her own body condition) somewhere between 5 to 30 min on this task.

Warm-up should consist of all blocks of preparation:

  • biomechanical
  • physiological
  • psychological
  • mental and
  • spiritual

In Pose Method we use specific running technique drills to get the body into the right biomechanical structure of movement. Those drills also serve as a psychological and mental tune-up for the upcoming workout. Be mindful when following this progression. All these parts should be performed on a conscious level with an understanding of why we are doing it. It is foolish to train, or do anything for that matter, under the assumption that mindless motions of doing something will give you the results you’re looking for.

If you normally train by yourself and run alone, simply make sure to structure your sessions so you cover the above mentioned aspects. However if you train in a group and/or do group running sessions, make sure to set time aside for yourself to maximize your results. You can (emphasis on can) manage your busy schedule, keep your group runs and enjoy the social aspect of running. A little bit of effort and discipline goes a long way.

Here’s a good warm-up set of drills and exercises for a session that can become your regular practice. To put together a more extensive session, refer to the vast collection available in the original book The Pose Method of Running if you have it, and the Beginner’s Guide to Pose Running resource.

Key points:

  1. Warm-up is about getting ready for the training session
  2. Make it simple, quick but get your mind into it completely.
  3. Emphasis on drills and elasticity exercises.

We should not do flexibility exercises in the warm-up part of the training session too often. That should be mostly saved for after the workout, for the cool-down part of the training session or for a separate training session altogether. But sometimes it is needed in which case make sure to do a warm-up flexibility routine before the actual warm-up and always keep your focus on moving your joints instead of stretching your muscles. Intentionally stretching your muscles is not a good idea. Muscles will do what they need to do when you focus on simply bending your joints. Correct intent and focus produce correct outcome.

The Cool-Down

The cool-down part of the training session has its own specific role as the process that should return your body to its normal condition, including its biomechanical, physiological, psychological, mental and spiritual conditions. When your training is done, it is very important to return all the “blocks” and levels of the body to their norm. This means recovering muscle strength, relaxation, tone, your technique and coordination, and proper perception of movement, and of course your mental state, emotional and psychological conditions.

So, cool-down is a multidimensional set of exercises and should be treated as seriously as the main part of the training session. Time-wise this part is not time consuming similar to the warm-up, but it could be a little longer if needed, because returning to the norm could be a more demanding process than getting going. There are more chances here to lose technique, perception, proper muscle condition and mental focus. So it’s a good idea to give more time to this part of your training session.

In the Pose Method we, again, use special running drills for cool-down with the purpose of recovering the specific conditions related to running technique and our focus should be on the main elements of running. But through these exercises we must also return our body’s strength condition, unless you want to wobble around on shaky legs for the next day or two. So, we additionally use special regimes of strength exercises to recover muscle tone & strength, tendon and ligament elasticity and coordination.

If the main workout was difficult with a load on the cardiorespiratory system, then we must use a light run (we are talking about a mile maximum for the majority of us) to recover these systems to the norm. Keep your eye on your form, just because it’s a light run to recover it does not mean you can drag your feet behind you.

Another thing to keep in mind about the cool-down is that it is not only the final part of your current training session, but it is also your preparation for the future training session, and that requires your mental and psychological focus and effort. Training is a non-stop process of moving from one training session to another.

Key points:

  1. Cool-down is about recovery
  2. Make it longer than warm-up
  3. Emphasis on strength exercises (lighter load, less reps)
  4. Wrap up with a flexibility routine (focus on moving your joints)

So, these seemingly simple parts of training, as you see, are not so simple at all, and they require your full attention and skill development, as any other part of your training. Start from this point and consciously build up your understanding of the deep meaning of these parts of your training process and it will take you to the next level of your training. I guarantee that. Enjoy this process of self-discovery and the newly found excitement that it will undoubtedly bring.

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

Learning about balance and proper running technique is part of the Pose Method® Running Course. This seminar offers 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.

Proper Body Alignment in Running

When running, proper body alignment becomes even more important. Considering the level of impact associated with running we must be even more diligent. And also, what body do you think would move faster and more efficiently from point A to point B – the one that moves like a unit, well composed, properly aligned or the one that looks like it’s comprised of multiple independent parts that are misaligned and move out of sync? The answer is obvious.

What is the proper body alignment in running? The answer is the one that’s in harmony with the force of gravity.

Alignment happens from feet to your head. Starting from your feet, your body should be aligned along the vertical line up to the top of your head. Using the foundation of proper body alignment when standing, we take it a step further in running by slightly bending our knees. What does ‘slightly’ mean? Do light jumps in place on both of your feet. That’s your cue. That comfortable slight bend is IT. Your body should be aligned straight yet not rigid.

Regardless of your speed, everything you do when running happens fast. And the faster you run the faster the movements and the sequence of movements. Your ability to maintain proper body alignment should be automatic which means you should apply more efforts in making this happen before you run, when you warm up, when you drill.

In Pose Method there are plenty of drills and strength exercises that will help you achieve that. To maintain proper alignment in running you must, first, know what it is, and, second, your body must be ‘equipped’ to maintain it. Strength training is essential for runners. Your hips are the biomechanical center of your body connecting upper and lower and need to be strong. Your hamstrings are the ‘workhorses’, as Dr. Romanov puts it, they need to be strong. The calves ‘carry’ a fair share of the weight as you change support when you run, they need to be strong and so on. Strength training and proper body alignment go hand in hand.

We use our whole body when we run. Everything must move, look and feel as a single unit. No rigidness, instead – suppleness. Everything is properly aligned so nothing gets damaged, no moves are wasted, no unnecessary effort is spent. Imagine the perfect image of yourself gracefully and swiftly gliding across the land.

Did you know? The key point of the 2004 study “Reduced Eccentric Loading of the Knee with the Pose Running Method” was that the reduced impact on the knees by virtually 50% was produced by a specific technique (Pose Running) that included a specific body alignment. It wasn’t just the type of landing or just the bending of the knees, or just the high cadence. It was the total package, the complete technique.

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 ]

Analysis of Usain Bolt’s Running Technique

After Usain Bolt’s victories with World Records in the Olympic Games in Beijing, and then in the World Championship in Berlin, our desire to understand the reasons and the basis of his phenomenal running is quite natural. Even a quick look of a non-professional is enough to see an obvious difference in running of Usain Bolt and his rivals. Bolt’s running is light, playful, relaxed and at the same time, impressively powerful. Listing of these elements, however, does not help us understand the reasons of such an impact on our feelings.

What is hidden behind the outer, visible picture of running that defines the superiority of this talented sprinter? What does he do better than others, and what parameter of the environment is he using that others don’t?

Let’s do an analysis of Usain Bolt’s running technique. There’s no need to prove that this is not about any one factor, but the system of factors, best seen in my opinion, during the period of support.

Physically with his height of 6’5 Bolt is practically the tallest athlete in the World’s history of sprinting. To some extent, though not directly, from my point of view, it is reflected in the length of his running step. In the final heat on 100m in World Championship in Berlin Bolt made 41 steps with an average length of 2.44m. His closest competitor Tyson Gay (height 5’11’’) made 45.45 steps with the average length of 2.20.

But the influence of the height on the step length would be too simple an explanation for his superiority. Behind the seemingly light and relaxed movement there is a different running technique separating him from his rivals.

To explain this different technique of running, let’s take a look at it from the point of view of the theory of Pose Method, which is based on principally different concepts from those previously accepted ones, the latter based on priority of muscular efforts, directed to active movement of legs pushing the body forward.

In my understanding, the most important factor is that Bolt uses gravity, to be more exact, gravitational torque, as the leading factor that allows him to more effectively involve all other forces, working as a whole and highly effective system for horizontal repositioning of the athlete with high velocity.

Simply speaking, in his running he uses rotation of the body around the point of support under the action of gravitational torque, which in essence is a free falling of the body forward.

Certainly it is happening in a limited frame of space and time during the period of support from the vertical position to the end of support. In reality, indeed, it is about a relatively small angle in space where the falling is happening. By our theoretical calculations these angles range from 0 to 22.5 degrees (starting from the vertical) for running with a relatively even speed.

The key running Pose, favorable for performing falling forward and allowing us to integrate all participating forces into one system moving a runner forward, is the Running Pose at midstance or vertical position, when GCM (general center of mass) is over the point of support.

On frames 1, 10 and 19, with a varying degree of approximation, Bolt is in the running Pose, starting from the vertical and maintains it to the end of support, which can be seen on frames 3 and 11, and also between 19 and 20, where this moment is missing.

Preservation of the Pose during the rotation of the body around the point of support proves that the body is rotating (moving) as a whole system. On the one hand, it allows for better conservation of momentum of the body and, on the other, it allows for the use of gravitational torque for angular acceleration of the body after it passes the vertical position. Indirectly, another proof of the body rotation on support is provided by the knee of the support leg maintained in bent position. On frames 1-4, 10-12, 19-21 it could be seen very well. I.e., he is not “pushing off”, but is “waiting”, “allowing” to gravitational torque to provide the angular acceleration of the GCM.

Therefore, Bolt is more effective in falling forward. Using a special speed table (developed together with professor A. Pianzin), which takes into account individual anthropometrical data of the athlete, his step frequency (cadence), etc., I got an average data of angles of falling of Usain Bolt and Tyson Gay in the final 100m of World Championship in Berlin. Bolt’s calculated average angle in 100m with the time 9.58 seconds was 18.5 degrees with the average step frequency (cadence) 4.28 steps per second (257 steps per minute), and Gay’s, with the time 9.71 seconds – 18.4 degrees, and step frequency (cadence) 4.68 steps per second (281 steps per minute).

Running sequence of Usain Bolt, please disregard the degrees and markers. 

Image courtesy of Russian Track and Field Magazine. 

At the fastest 20m segment of the distance between 60-80m, where Bolt had the highest speed 12.42 m/s with the step frequency (cadence) 4.4 steps per second (264 steps per minute), his angle of falling was reaching 21.4 degrees, the same as Gay’s with the average speed 12.27 m/s and the step frequency 4.8 step per second (288 steps per minute).

All of this makes sense, i.e., speaking in the language of physics; Bolt just more effectively transforms the rotational (angular) velocity of the body into horizontal.

In a simple way this could be presented as a well-known equation of relations between linear and angular velocities in rotational movement of the body: v=ωr, where v- horizontal velocity of GCM, r – radius of rotation of GCM, ω – angular velocity of rotation of GCM. He uses his advantage in height (radius of rotation) and maintains his body in Pose favorable for the action of gravitational torque, relatively longer and better, than other sprinters. Therefore, Bolt’s run builds up on highly effective combined use of factors for moving body forward.

GCM, at the same time, having completed its rotational movement by the end of support, continues moving by oblique trajectory in the air, similarly to that of a stone released from a sling, until the next landing in Pose.

Comparing Bolt’s running with that of his rivals gives us an opportunity to see that his technique essentially differs in details of the Pose and its maintenance until the end of support (which I call a standard), giving him a possibility to use such an external factor as gravity and his natural gift – height to the maximum. On frames 3, 11 and 20 where support practically finishes (ends), the position of the swing foot is close to the knee of the support leg.

It is necessary to mention here, that visually these differences in technique are very small, almost invisible, but is it those differences that create the base for our impression of his movement as light, relaxed and fast.

At the end of the day, it is not important how: consciously or accidentally did Bolt come to this technique, the main thing is that he performs it very well due to his talent. This technique allows him to use his genetic potential, natural gifts to the fullest and to develop his psycho-emotional and mental abilities to the highest level.

Some prognosis about his possible progress. If he manages to increase his average step frequency of running to the level of his rivals, just to something around 4.5 steps per second (270 steps per minute) having the same average angle of falling, his result on 100m could be 9.11 seconds. Isn’t it impressive? But he, so far, is dreaming “only” about 9.4 seconds!

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 ]

Strength Training in Running

While the question ‘do we need strength training in running?’ is not a question anymore, the question, ‘what kind of strength do we need there?’ is still unclear. That is why I would like to discuss this topic in a short description of the logic of strength exercise use in running.

It is no secret that muscle strength is necessary in running to provide for the body’s ability to interact with the ground while your body moves from one support to the other. During support time gravity manifests itself as the body weight and muscles provide for its ability to interact with the ground.

So the precision of muscles’ development according to the body’s needs of interaction, is directly related to the quality and efficiency of that interaction. We have also to take into account the skill of interaction, that is the skill of using muscular efforts and all other forces.

What are the main requirements for this type of interaction, and what kind of strength training do these requirements call for? In Pose Method we distinguish three major types of strength and the corresponding exercises that provide for the required level of skill of interaction with the ground. The first is hip strength, the second – hamstring strength and the third – muscle elasticity.

Why do we choose these types of strength and these exercises to develop it? The answer is directly related to the Pose Method of running technique. The performance of three major elements of Pose Method technique – the running Posefalling (leaning) forward from the Pose and pulling the support foot from the ground – depend on how well each specific strength is developed.

Hips

Hips strength provides for very efficient falling forward, because it allows you to keep the upper and low body well connected as one unit and therefore, fall forward faster. Hips exercises should be included in the training routine at least once a week, 4 to 6 different exercises according to your ability, with 10 to 20 reps in one set after the main training part.

  • at least once a week
  • 4 to 6 different exercises according to your ability
  • 10 to 20 reps per set, increase based on ability

Hamstrings

Hamstring strength is responsible for pulling the support foot from the ground, when the body ends its contact with the ground, and brings the foot under the hips in time for the next support, in order to start falling again. If hamstring strength is not developed enough, the support foot and the whole leg would be lagging behind until the next support and the body would not fall forward.

Consequently it would lead to reducing stride frequency and speed of running. The late (or ‘not on time’) pull of the support foot from the ground in sprint causes a hamstring injury. Exercises for hamstring strength development should be used at least once a week as well, with 10 to 20 reps in one set and up to 3-5 sets in one training session. It could be done as a main session together with other strength exercises, or after running training.

  • at least once a week
  • 10 to 20 reps per set
  • up to 3-5 sets in one training session, increase based on ability

Muscle Elasticity

Muscle elasticity or springiness is the ability of muscles to quickly return to the length previous to impact. The other name of it is stretch-shortening reflex. Elasticity, according to scientific data, provides for quick interaction with the support and reduces oxygen consumption and energy expenditures during running. Elastic condition is achieved by keeping the body in the S-like shape on support, or in layman terms, by keeping the knee bent and never straightened and maintaining a short support time. The latter is related to high (over 180 steps per minute) stride frequency, executed by pulling the support foot from the ground on time.

Elasticity exercises are simply jumping exercises. There is a great variety of them, on different levels of difficulty and complexity but most accessible for beginners would be jumps in place on two legs, with jump rope or light weights of your choice according to your level. Jumps could be done twice a week after the main running session. The number of reps would vary from 10 to 30 and more, depending on the type of jumps. Sets would depend on your level of preparedness.

  • twice a week after the main running session
  • 10 to 30 reps per set
  • 1-3 sets in one training session, increase based on ability

As you see, all these different types of strength, in the final account, are providing for one thing – the ability to fall forward more efficiently and be a better runner.

Here’s an example of a full strength training routine for runners.

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 ]

Calf Soreness

Calf soreness is a rather common occurrence but not a standard one by any means. Some get it and others don’t. It often appears at the beginning of the learning process in the Pose Method of running and ‘bothers’ the runner for around 2 weeks while he or she is adapting to the new neuromuscular coordination and to the new regime of muscle loading.

Is it possible to avoid this? Yes. And many do by following the recommended route of preparation instead of just diving in. Others have the luxury of skipping it simply due to already being prepared more or less. For example, if jumping rope is a normal routine for you, chances are you won’t suffer the calf soreness when transitioning to pose running.

How It Happens

The fact of having calf soreness (muscle strain) is the first indication of getting DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) syndrome, which appears 12 to 48 hours after exercising and is characterized by tenderness and stiffness of muscles. The discomfort is caused by micro-tears of muscle tissue for a simple reason – resisting gravity.

The mechanics of the injury are very simple. During landing on support the body moves forward and down towards the ground. The final muscle groups responsible for accepting the body weight are lower leg and foot muscles, and calves are the strongest ones of them.

The main biomechanical goal of the body movement over the support is to provide redirection from the downward-forward flow to upward-forward one without losing momentum and horizontal velocity and even try to gain a little there.

So, in the Pose Method this is achieved by landing the foot close to the point of projection of the General Center of Mass (GCM) on the ground, and proceeding with falling forward with minimum or no braking, i.e. maintain the Pose position while falling forward and quickly change support.

The downward movement of body weight is supposed to be finished before the beginning of falling forward. But very often calves resist this downward movement by getting tense, which is caused by our desire to hold the heel in a certain position and prevent the foot from touching the ground. Why is this happening? The reasons could be different: wrong understanding and overdoing of the command to keep the body weight on balls of the feet, another one could be attempting the push off. It could be done on the conscious or subconscious level, but the result is always the same – overloading the calf muscles.

Biomechanical basis of it consists of counteraction of two forces, gravity and muscles activity, resisting the body weight, working simultaneously in the opposite directions. Who wins and who loses is not difficult to guess. The muscles suffer the consequences.

The downward movement of body weight is finished when the body’s general center of mass is passing over the ball of the foot on support. The logical consequence of it is the following: the faster the body passes through the vertical line over the ball of the foot, the faster the calf muscles are released from the body weight load. If during the downward movement of the body the calf muscles are not active by holding or pushing the body weight, then they receive less loading.

Join us on the Running Forum to learn more about sore calves

How to Avoid Calf Soreness

  1. Don’t put too much effort into staying on the ball of the foot.
  2. Don’t hold the heel above the ground, let it touch the ground and allow your ankle to move freely. The point is to keep your body weight on your forefoot.
  3. Don’t do any active propulsion or push off with the leg and the foot. Keep your perception of the foot as being not loaded, but on the opposite, as getting unloaded, when you start running.
  4. Do concentrate only on the pulling action of the foot from the ground.

How to Prevent It

  1. Jump rope (lift feet, don’t push) on regular basis before you start implementing the Pose into your running. Do it barefoot and in shoes to get different perception of foot touching down. Stay relaxed. Start with the minimal number of jumps to give yourself time to get used to it and gradually increase the number of reps.
  2. Do the prescribed running drills and strength exercises. If you want to follow a program – try the Beginner’s Guide to Pose Running where we provide a structured approach & detailed instructions with a specific training schedule.

How to Fix It If You Got It

As the saying goes – this too shall pass. The temporary discomfort will go away on it’s own. It will do so faster if you help it of course.

  1. Use the above recommendations on preventing and avoiding
  2. Do a warm/hot lower leg or full body bath with sea or Epsom salt
  3. Don’t ice
  4. Massage

Note: Light runs uphill or up the stairs are better and more effective than what’s called ‘calf raises’, a somewhat forceful exercises that can do damage to your calf muscle.

Keep in mind the difference between discomfort and pain. This applies to every situation where we deal with pain. You have to be honest with yourself to properly assess your condition.

1. Temporary discomfort is not the same as pain

Discomfort is experienced when we do something new, our muscles are not used to that type of loading, it feels a bit straining but bearable.

Pain is a much higher degree of discomfort and it’s a different ball game. The cringe, the grimace, the limp, etc should be your indicators. Pain is a signal that you crossed the line, you’ve done wrong (simply stated).

2. Discomfort goes away on its own, pain doesn’t.

While discomfort will disappear on it’s own typically within the two weeks window or less, the pain will either stay or keep rearing its ugly head. Pain needs to be addressed appropriately and in timely manner. Your technique, your movement needs to be reevaluated and corrected.

It is very useful to do short runs barefoot to learn the proper neuromuscular coordination and to feel relaxation and looseness of the support foot and ankle. Jumps with the rope on one or both legs reproducing the Pose stance are good as well. These exercises teach you to synchronize the body weight moving down with relaxation of your calves. Start from these exercises and move on to faster and longer running without calf soreness.

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 ]

Training: Improve balance to increase speed

In general, better balance translates into a more coordinated effort and higher precision of movement regardless of sport, so working on balance should be an important part of any good training regimen for any athlete. But how does our balance affect our speed? The answer is – indirectly, but rather significantly and it’s not as complicated as it might seem.

Centuries ago a visionary extraordinaire Leonardo Da Vinci (1452–1519) wrote the following about motion, balance, and foot contact: “The legs, or centre of support, in men and animals, will approach nearer to the centre of gravity, in proportion to the slowness of their motion; and, on the contrary, when the motion is quicker, they will be farther removed from that perpendicular line.”¹

From the Pose Method® point of view, speed is determined by the degree of falling but in order to even start falling you have to be in the position of balance first. As you can see, balance is an essential part of movement. In order for movement to happen there has to be balance first and then it has to be destroyed, then you find balance again and to go anywhere from that point, that newly found balance has to be destroyed again… and voila! you’re moving.

Take a look at this video to help you connect the dots. Gravity – balance – movement – everything is connected. Improve your understanding of this topic, improve your basic skills and you will progress further and faster.

Balance

It is not sport specific. Balance is balance. There is, however, static balance and there is dynamic balance. In sports the dynamic balance is more obvious visually and mentally since this is what we see when the athlete is in motion. Only a fraction of a second is given for the static balance to happen, but it happens nonetheless. It has to occur in order for movement to take place and to continue. And because of such a limited time frame of its occurrence, it becomes much more important to get a better handle on static balance.

The dynamic balance is no less significant and is actually more difficult to perfect, but by working on developing your dynamic balance skill you will strengthen what is commonly the weak link. And we all know the old adage – the system is only as strong as its weakest link. The dynamic balance is interwoven with movement. If you only have a fraction of a moment to execute that chain of events, you better believe that you won’t be able to think about it, focus on it too much, etc… It will just have to happen as part of motion. So the better your balance skill is, the better your movement will be.

Within the Pose Method® framework, improved balance serves as a foundation for a better fall, which in its turn serves to produce better forward movement. Your ability to quickly and smoothly transition between the state of balance and the fall, will help you improve your speed.

Practice Balance

While there are many exercises that can be done to improve balance, here’s the basic drill that you should start with that relates specifically to running technique. And to increase the level of difficulty – do it with your eyes closed. (You have to be a subscriber to view these videos)

Here are another couple of good drills that seems simple and easy but reveal the weak spots.


4-Week Speed Training Program

To help you train and improve your speed, we put together a complete Speed Development Video program that will help you get faster in no time. Take a look at Day 1 training session.

You’re invited to try this entire program free for 7 days and see the results. Click here to sign up.

 

References: 

¹A Treatise on Painting, by Leonardo Da Vinci, Chap. LXVIII.—Of the Centre of Gravity in Men and Animals.

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

Learning about balance and proper running technique is part of the Pose Method® Running Course. This seminar offers 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: What is good running form?

In running, more so than in other sports, the opinions on proper technique vary, but there is a more or less unanimous take on what represents good running form. That strange disconnect between these two very connected things promotes erroneous ideas and further confusion since it takes correct technique to produce good form.

Common Descriptions of Good Running Form

What are the normally accepted characteristics of a good running form? How are they described in conventional paradigm and why?

  • Effortless
  • Light
  • Smooth
  • Without muscle tension
  • With quick legs turnover
  • With short support time
  • With almost silent landing
  • With landing on a forefoot or flat foot
  • With landing close to the vertical line going through the GCM
  • With small vertical oscillation of the body
  • With small upper body movement
  • With slight forward lean or erect trunk position
  • Without any vigorous arms or legs movement
  • With a quiet and focused face

“How to DO it” VS “How it LOOKS like”

These kinds of descriptions come primarily from observation of elite runners and are based on some commonly accepted images of movement. What we have there is “this is how it looks like” without the “this is how you do it”.

This scenario is quite familiar to anybody who went through even a short time of training and racing in running. Yes, all characteristics are well known, but nevertheless remain inaccessible to most recreational and age group runners. A common opinion is: “there they are, and here we are”, separating “elites” and “us” as something completely different.

To accept this approach and consider a good running form as predetermined for and belonging just to elite athletes doesn’t make sense, besides, we’ve all seen some pretty terrible technique displayed by elite runners. So, a good running form is the result of learning the skill, but not something inherited from your birth. While we can accept the view that some people have more in their genetic makeup to learn quicker and better, it does not change the fact that everybody could and should learn good running form. Obviously, it’s very difficult to even grasp the idea of what the form actually is by just looking at the list of items described above, to tell nothing of being able to learn it.

A descriptive approach lacks systematic explanation and instruction which is necessary in learning process and doesn’t give any real knowledge as to why it happens in this or that way.

So what is good running form? Yes, we get the idea in general, about a smooth, effortless, light, etc. movement of the runner, but this is what we see, it is not what we understand and can actually reproduce. So where do we start? How do we get there?

What Does “Good” or “Proper” Running Form Mean?

There are things that are a matter of opinion and then there are those that are not. Presence of gravity is a scientific fact. When discussing proper, efficient technique and good form, we must consider gravity and take its effect on our movement into account.

Our form reflects our relationship with the environment where gravity is the leading component, which basically determines everything we perceive.

Good form that is commonly perceived and described as smooth, light and effortless, is just a reflection of how in sync with gravity our movement is. That movement comes by way of proper technique. Proper running technique is technique that takes gravity into account as part of its structure. This is the real meaning of the term ‘proper’. If gravity is considered then heel striking, knee lifting, pushing off, toeing off, lengthening the stride and such are out of the question.

We should learn and teach proper technique to make good form accessible to all regardless of whether they belong to the elite level or not, if only for the purpose of preventing and avoiding injuries.

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 ]

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 ]

Stride Frequency

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 this running parameter?

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. There is a 20 page chapter titled “How Gravity Works in Running” that was published in the Pose Method of Triathlon book and will be added to the new addition of the Pose Method of Running when it’s available.

Acceleration due to gravity is a constant, but our ability to take full advantage of gravity’s pull is a function of our body lean and our stride cadence. If you lean 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. Lean more and you have to move your feet faster to avoid hitting the ground with your face.

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 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 ]

The Pose – How It Works

As mentioned in another article, when moving, our body goes through an infinite number of poses in space and time. Among the multitude of those poses there are those that play an essential role in forming our movement as a whole. Those poses are referred to as ‘key poses’ (or simply poses now), as Dr. Romanov named them, because they are at the center, they connect the preceding pose with the pose that follows, while serving as a conductor of energy and all forces involved, and producing the most efficient movement.

In the Pose Method the understanding of the correct hierarchy of interaction of the forces involved, with gravity in the leading role, allowed to put human movement in a certain perspective where all movement became defined as pose to pose by change of support.

Movement cannot happen without support. If our body does not find support (if the foot doesn’t meet the ground, for example) there will be no movement in any direction. Our body will be in a continuous free fall under the effect of gravity. If there was no gravity or the force was slightly different, than our planet would have a different look to it, we’d have a different appearance and a different way of moving.

Under the dome of the current gravitational field, the most effective single support is the one that’s centered, the one that brings balance yet is ready to destroy that balance in a blink of an eye. Applies to inanimate or living, we are affected by gravity in the same manner. No matter your body type, size, weight or your skill level, it remains true for all. In running, this is what the recommendation “land under your hips, under your GCM (general center of mass), or as close as possible to it” is based on.

When on support a body, any body, can move in any direction. It will move, or it will fall in whichever direction it is tilted. The quality of movement however will be the outcome of the quality of the body position on support. If you’ve ever slipped on ice you have a pretty good idea of all sorts of random poses that your body goes through when losing support in an unexpected and disorganized manner and trying to find balance while being pull down by gravity. The sequence of events is simple – you fell down not because your body went through random poses, instead you went through those random poses because you slipped, but why did you slip? Because your body pose on support was off and ice leaves tiny room for error in movement.

The Trajectory of Movement

Before attaining support any physical body goes through the motions. If movement happens from support to support, then the path leading to landing on support started at the previous support. And in turn, the current support will determine the quality of the following support.

This is also how the trajectory of your moving parts is determined. No need to copy someone else. Go from pose to pose, change support, and the trajectory of your movement takes care of itself. The better the pose, the quicker the movement from support to support, the better the trajectory…the more efficient you are.

In order for all of this to work properly, the pose assumed by your body on support must have certain characteristics. It must be a pose of balance that offers stability yet does not affect the momentum of movement. It has to be compact and focused.

Mechanically the pose and change of support are identical for everyone. Though we are all unique, gravity affects us all in the same manner and the effective way to deal with it applies to all. While Ferris wheels in different locations are painted in different colors and have different design of passenger cars, the mechanical work of the main unit remains the same.

So the pose of the body while on support is everything. If yours resembles a starfish, while very stable, you most likely won’t move too fast. But if you’re correctly posed and change support quickly you will be fast, efficient and injury free.

The Pose

  • harnesses the power of elements of previous movement, and defines the consequent movements
  • defines optimized interaction of all forces involved
  • helps integrate all forces during the support phase
  • provides for the best interaction with support, and support is an essential part of any movement
  • significantly optimizes muscular efforts
  • utilizes natural properties of the entire muscular skeletal system like muscles’ ability to contract and relax, and their elasticity, etc.
  • eliminates extra unnecessary movement so less energy is spent
  • allows to move with sharp precision
  • simplifies teaching and learning of any technique

In running, or any other athletic activity, using pose allows us to tap into the natural forces at play. Physics and biomechanics performing in harmony. Key position allows us to flow within the natural forces and use their power, instead of clashing with them and suffering the consequences.

You get better results with less effort and don’t traumatize your body in the process.

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 ]

The Extensor Paradox in Running

The original article (below) on the topic at hand, was published in Biomechanics of Distance Running in 1990. As you read the data and conclusions from this research you’ll see that the scientific community was not ready to accept the idea of the role of gravity as a leading force in running. A classical vision of gravity strictly as a vertical force was predominant in the scientists’ minds and didn’t allow them to look at the facts from a different perspective. The most important thing there, a relationship between extensor muscles and gravity as one non-conflicting system with reciprocal coordination between them, was overlooked.

The Data

The data in this article clearly demonstrates Nature’s wisdom of coexistence, when one force yields to the other to allow them both be used to their fullest. In the Pose Method the concept of gravity as a leading force in forward movement is the most fundamental one, and the data from the extensor’s paradox article confirm this.

I would like to specifically point out for you the data showing when the quad muscles cease any electrical activity. According to the research data, it happens immediately after the mid-stance, when according to the traditional point of view the so-called “push off” efforts are supposed to be exerted.

This conflicting information brought the authors to this particular name of the article. The commonly accepted understanding of the leg extension as a forward propulsive force in running did not get any support by the data provided by this research. But, at the same time, with this data available, the researchers did not come to any conclusions that should have pointed out the role of gravity in running.

The Logic

In the absence of pre-existing standards and guidelines, we must step away from the microscope and look at the bigger picture. Figuring out the hierarchy of the existing forces and how they work/interact elsewhere and everywhere allows us to lay down the ground rules. This initial sorting of already known facts is essential in formulating a concept.

Currently our understanding of the force of gravity is limited and yet we know just enough to understand that it is the glue that holds everything together. Thus it is considered the leading force. If we accept it as such in relation to our entire planet, then we must accept gravity as the leading force in horizontal movement in running as well, all other forces are subordinate.

Jumping ahead to the work of muscles and our entire body framework of bones, connective tissues, etc it is logical to suggest that when we see a muscle group cease activity that it happens so specific muscle behavior does not interfere with the work of gravity but falls in line with it. It is easy to say that this logic has been established from the beginning of biological life on Earth. From this point of view, our conscious efforts to produce the forward propulsion were “ignored” by Nature.

The Practice

Some perception of muscle efforts on support, which we have during the support time right before and during mid-stance, gives an illusion of this “push off” happening. Most runners sincerely believe in ‘push off efficiency’ and its necessity in order to run, because of their perception and deceptive visual appearance. The fact is that we feel tension interpreted as a push simply because we arrive to the single point of support with our entire body weight on it for a fleeting moment in time.

Try this. Stand in the running pose and start falling forward. Now push off. Be honest with yourself instead of just trying to prove me wrong. Could you push off? No.

Our common sense is based on and is limited by our understanding of the subject, and hence is a very deceptive thing that often doesn’t coincide with abstract logic, which we have to use in order to see the hidden reality of functioning of systems. For this matter we have to use the system of reference of Nature, applying scientific terminology, according to which Gravity is a predominant force by all accounts. Then and only then we’ll be able to see how the forces interact within the hierarchically structured system, each with its own space and time of involvement in the action of running.

 

BIOMECHANICS OF DISTANCE RUNNING

Human Kinetics Books, 1990


Chapter 6. Muscle Activity in Running. The Extensor Paradox Experiment
by Irene S. McClay, Mark J. Lake, Peter R. Cavanagh

It is well known that knee flexion occurs just before and immediately after footstrike during running to cushion the impact of landing (Milliron & Cavanagh, this volume). Once the downward movement of the center of gravity associated with this cushioning phase has finished, knee extension begins and the propulsive phase of the cycle continues.

There is evidence from Brandell (1973) and Mann and Hagy (1980b) that the quadriceps are generally silent during the phase of knee extension following the cushioning. Few experiments have focused on this puzzling aspect of knee joint action during running. The purpose of the experiment described in this section was to examine the activity of the three heads of the quadriceps that are amenable to surface recording during distance running and to simultaneously measure the angle of the knee joint.

Subjects and Speed

Six male recreational runners, ages 19 to 26, experienced in treadmill running with no history of recent injury, volunteered for the study. Each subject ran at a constant speed of 4.0 m · S-¹ on a motorized treadmill. This speed was chosen as it was in the middle of the range used by previous workers.

Equipment and Method of Analysis

To investigate knee extensor muscle activity during the stance phase of running, EMG of the vastus medialis, vastus lateralis, and rectus femoris muscles of one leg were recorded using a battery-powered GCS 67 Electromyographic Processor. Silver-silver chloride electrodes with on-site preamplifiers were placed in the middle of the muscle belly after thorough preparation of the skin. An inertia switch attached to the heel was used to define the cycle endpoints and knee angle was recorded simultaneously with a self-aligning ULGN-67 Electrogoniometer. This design compensates for errors in placement and does not assume a fixed center of rotation for the joint. The electrogoniometer was calibrated for knee angle by comparing voltage output against knee angle measured by a protractor.

The EMG processor, together with the goniometer and footswitch signals, were interfaced with an SMS 1000 computer, which sampled at a rate of 500 Hz per channel. The raw EMG signal was prefiltered using a high pass filter of 75 Hz cut-off frequency. Custom software allowed for storage, processing, and display of the data. An example of the raw data for the complete 5-second sampling period is shown in Figure 6.6a, and the region surrounding footstrike is shown with greater resolution in Figure 6.6b.

Figure 6.6a. A 5-s raw experimental record.

Figure 6.6b. A portion of the same experimental record surrounding footstrike shown with greater time resolution.

Five-second samples were collected after each subject had undergone a warm-up period at the test speed. This allowed at least six full cycles of running to be recorded for each individual. For each period of stance, the phasic activity of all three muscles was subjectively determined by comparison with a noise-free baseline. Data from six footstrikes were examined, and mean values were obtained for the time at which rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, and vastus medialis muscle activity ceased. The beginning and end times of the knee extension phase following initial flexion were also determined.

Results

Figure 6.7a illustrates the mean results of six footstrikes for a typical subject. It can be seen that approximately 85 milliseconds before footstrike, muscle activity begins while knee extension is under way. Vastus lateralis is the first to show activity, some 25 milliseconds before vastus medialis and 60 milliseconds before rectus femoris. This period of muscle activity appears to help in stabilizing the leg in preparation for footstrike. All three muscles are active through footstrike while knee flexion occurs, but they cease activity simultaneously approximately 20 milliseconds after peak knee flexion has been achieved. In this subject knee extension continues for a further 150 milliseconds.

Figure 6.7a. Results of phasic quadriceps EMG and knee angle for a typical subject averaged over six footstrikes.

Figure 6.7b Ensemble average results of six subjects of the relationship between phasic quadriceps EMG and knee angle. The values of peak knee extension prior to footstrike, peak knee flexion during stance, and peak knee extension after stance have been joined by straight lines as the mean curve was not determined.

The mean results for the group as a whole are presented in Table 6.1 and shown schematically in Figure 6.7b. The mean time of knee extension that was not accompanied by quadriceps EMG was 133.7 milliseconds (SD = 16.5).

Flexion extension durationMean all muscle off after peak flexionMean duration of silence during extension
Mean for group ±SD162.8

19.5

29.2

10.4

133.7

16.5

These results are further illustrated in Figure 6.8, where electrical activity is indicated by the presence of shading over the muscle. The amplitude of the activity is also schematically indicated by the intensity of the shading. The large amount of knee extension that occurs in the absence of muscle activity is readily apparent from this figure.

Figure 6.8. The amplitude of EMG activity throughout the stance phase of running. (The intensity of shading indicates relative amount of activity.)

Discussion

For the group of runners examined in this study, it is clear that the quadriceps cease their activity shortly after peak stance phase knee flexion has occurred. A phase of knee extension of approximately 130 milliseconds continues without the assistance of the quadriceps. The function of the quadriceps must therefore be described as principally controlling the descent of the body center of gravity after landing. Certainly they help to initiate knee extension, but they rapidly become quiescent when knee extension has been under way for only about 30 milliseconds, a time during which less than 5 degrees of extension has been achieved. The duration of electrical silence in extension is large enough to exclude the possibility that electromechanical delay (EMD) between EMG activity and force production may explain the paradox. EMD time in concentric muscle action has been determined to be 40 to 55 milliseconds (Cavanagh & Komi, 1979; Norman & Komi, 1979), and in rapid movements it may be possible for EMG activity to have terminated before force can be detected.

A reasonable hypothesis may be that hip extensor action during the second half of the stance phase is causing the knee joint to extend. However, if one examines the co-activation of the quadriceps and hamstrings in Figure 6.3, it is apparent that many investigators have found these muscle groups to cease activity at about the same time in the cycle. Neither does there appear to be a prolonged period of gluteus maximus activity that would provide an explanation. Figure 6.4 indicates that the last extensor muscle to cease activity during stance appears to be the gastrocnemius, which is of course also a knee flexor. Because only the quadriceps were measured in the present study, it is not possible to say with certainty what patterns of activity were exhibited in other muscles in these particular subjects. These experiments have, however, shown that the notion of an extensor thrust-with plantar flexors, knee extensors, and hip extensors all being active in late support to generate forward and upward thrust – is in need of modification. They also indicate that the problem is worthy of further investigation using a kinetic approach in addition to multi-channel EMG so that the joint moments can be determined.

References

  • Basmajian, J.V., & Deluca, C.J. (1985). Muscles alive (5th ed.). Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins.
  • Brandell, B.R. (1973). An analysis of muscle coordination in walking and running gaits. In S. Cerquiglini, A. Venerando, & J. Wartenweiler (Eds.), Medicine and Sport: Biomechanics III (pp. 278-287). Basel, Switzerland: Karger.
  • Carlet, M. (1872). Essai experimental sur la locomotion humaine: Etude de la marche [Experimental test on human locomotion: Study of walking]. Annales des Sciences Naturelles, Sect. Zool., XV.
  • Cavagna, G.A. (1977). Storage and utilization of elastic energy in skeletal muscle. Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews, 5, 89-129.
  • Cavanagh, P.R., & Komi, P.V. (1979). Electromechanical delay in human skeletal muscle under concentric and eccentric contractions. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 42, 159-163.
  • Cohen, H.L., & Brumlik, J. (1968). A manual of electroneuromyography. New York: Harper and Row.
  • Elliot, B.C., & Blanksby, B.A. (1979). The synchronization of muscle activity and body segment movements during a running cycle. Medicine and Science in Sports, 11(4), 322-327.
  • Grieve, D.W., Pheasant, S., & Cavanagh, P.R. (1978). Prediction of gastrocnemius length from knee and ankle joint posture. In E. Asmussen & K. Jorgensen (Eds.), Biomechanics VI-A (pp.405-412). Baltimore: University Park.
  • Hubbard, A.W. (1939). An experimental analysis of running and of certain differences between trained and untrained runners. Research Quarterly of the American Association of Health and Physical Education, 10(3), 28-38.
  • Hudgkins, C.V., & Stetson, R.H. (1932, July 15). A unit for kymographic recording. Science, p. 60.
  • Kramer, H., Kuchler, G., & Brauer, D. (1972). Investigations of the potential distribution of activated skeletal muscles in man by means of surface electrodes. Electromyography and Clinical Neurophysiology, 12, 19-26.
  • MacIntyre, D.L., & Robertson, D.G.E. (1987). EMG profiles of the knee muscles during treadmill running. In Bengt Jonsson (Ed.), Biomechanics X-A (pp.289-294). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
  • Mann, R.A., & Hagy, J.L. (1980a). Biomechanics of walking, running, and sprinting. American Journal of Sports Medicine, 8(5), 345-350.
  • Mann, R.A., & Hagy, J.L. (1980b). Running, jogging and walking: A comparative electromyographic and biomechanical study. In J.E. Bateman & A. Trott (Eds.), The foot and ankle (pp.167-175). New York: Thieme-Stratton.
  • Marey, E.J. (1972). Movement. New York: Arno. (Original work published 1895)
  • Nilsson, J., Thorstensson, A., & Halbertsma, J. (1985). Changes in leg movements and muscle activity with speed of locomotion and mode of progression in humans. Acta Physiologica Scandinavica123, 457-475.
  • Norman, R.W., & Komi, P.V. (1979). Electromechanical delay in skeletal muscle under normal movement conditions. Acta Physiologica Scan dinavica, 106, 241-248.
  • Norman, R.W., Nelson, R.C., & Cavanagh, P.R (1978). Minimum sampling time required to extract stable information from digitized EMGs. In E. Asmussen & K. Jorgensen (Eds.), Biomechanics VI-A (pp.237-243). Baltimore: University Park.
  • Pare, E.B., Stern, J.T., & Schwartz, J.M. (1981). Functional differentiation within the tensor fasciae latae. Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, 63-A(9), 1457-1471.
  • Schwab, G.H., Moynes, D.R. Jobe, F.W., & Perry, J. (1983). Lower extremity electromyographic analysis of running gait. Clinical Orthopedics and Related Research, 176, 166-170.
  • Warfel, J.H. (1974). The extremities (4th ed.). Philadelphia: Lea & Febiger.
  • Winter, D.A. (1979). Biomechanics of human movement. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
  • Zuniga, E.M., Truong, X.T., & Simons, D.G. (1969). Effects of skin electrode position on averaged electromyographic potentials. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 50, 264-271.

 

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 ]

About My Book: The Pose Method® of Running

Despite the volume of scientific articles and books written about running technique, the problem of how to run, and how to teach running technique, has still not been satisfactorily addressed. This tremendous output of information and opinion remains a disjointed, even eclectic, amalgam of anecdotal observation and experience, devoid of any integral unifying concept.

As a result, the teaching process of running is something of a foster child, a process wholly dependent on the individual coach’s insights, preferences and competence. Without an underlying, developed and accepted school of thought as to what constitutes proper running technique, what is taught by any given coach or instructor is pretty much the subject of personal whim.

This book is my attempt to fill this gap and present an integrated and uniform approach to running technique that can be systematically taught by instructors and coaches around the world. The concepts that form the basis of the Pose Method of Running derive not only from scientific principles, but also from observation, intuition and more than 20 years of working with runners at all ability levels.

I proceeded from the simple assumption that running, like any other human movement, must have a “best way” to be done. To find that “best way”, I observed both humans and animals in their running and tried to identify the scientific principles at work in the matter of forward locomotion.

Having identified those principles, I then attempted to develop a system of human movement that would derive the maximum benefit from forces that exist in nature. It was my belief that this movement, while accomplishing essentially mechanical tasks, would be as artistic and refined as the movements that characterize ice-skating, ballet or gymnastics.

To my mind, this search for a “best way” to run was an urgent calling. If, in fact, I could design a curriculum that would allow individuals to run injury free, with better performance and, most importantly, more pleasure in their pursuit, I would have done a service to countless athletes.

Thus, I present this book as a system that will benefit both runners and their coaches. It is based on the combination of scientific reasoning and simple common sense. As such, the proof of the system will not come from strict scientific data, but the success of its repeated application over and over again.

As with other sports that one attempts to learn from a book, an individual’s success in acquiring the benefits of the Pose Method of Running will rest not only on his understanding of the principles and his dedication to learning the system, but also in his or her willingness and ability to seek outside support in the endeavor.

While it is possible to learn the Pose Method by studying this book on your own, it is always better to have outside assistance. Whether it is simply a training partner or a qualified coach, having a second set of eyes to observe your technique and help you along the way will prove an invaluable asset and greatly reduce the time it takes you to adopt this new style of running.

As with any other approach to perfecting sporting endeavors, the Pose Method of Running remains very much a work in progress. As a scientist, a coach, and an author, I am always anxious to hear from anyone concerning their experiences with the Pose Method.

By sharing our knowledge and further refining this technique, I believe we can build an ever-larger community of happy, healthy and satisfied runners around the world. Your thoughts and insights could well become invaluable components of the next edition of this book, to be shared with runners of all ages and nationalities.

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.
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