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.

CrossFit: Increase WOD Running Speed in One Day

For all their variety, an overwhelming majority of CrossFit WODs have one constant – running.

That’s a lot of running in a community that says it hates running! Ok, ‘hates’ maybe too strong of a word here, but I’m sure you’ve heard your friends and others say that at least once before.

The result of this disparaging view of running is obvious. Instead of flaunting PRs and raising benchmarks, members woefully accept defeat and resign to injuries and mediocre times, whereas they fight tooth and nail for a successful snatch.

What would you do if I told you that you indeed could run faster and better than you think? At our workshops we can actually calculate and tell you just how much faster you could be running! You don’t have to go far to see the potential, just look at Karly Wilson of CrossFit Undeniable that finished a marathon first in her age group. A couple of month before the race Wilson and CrossFit Undeniable hosted CrossFit Preferred Course. Addressing her running technique was the final ingredient that made the difference. It’s not about running a marathon, of course, but you could if you felt so inclined.

The truth about running

Running is an integral part of virtually every sport. Basketball, baseball, football, rugby, CrossFit… and the list can go on and on. Hey, running is often involved when you’re just trying to make it to your training session and not be late. Running is everywhere and this is precisely why it is so misunderstood and underappreciated.

Statistics are very revealing of the scale of this issue – 2 out of 3 people who run get injured. That is more than all other sports combined. How crazy is that?

You know what else is crazy? The fact that most people don’t realize how simple it is to improve their running. They key is to do less and be precise in movement. Stop the madness with pumping arms, raising knees, rolling from heel to toe, butt kicking and so on. To run is to change support from running pose to running pose.

When your running technique is optimized, running feels better and becomes easier. And here’s the cherry on top – better technique prevents early muscle function deterioration, so you can run, press, run, squat, run or whatever and not fall apart. Or run a marathon and find yourself on a podium (ok podium might be a stretch but still).

‘How to’ does not require love

So, how could you run faster than you do now? You need to improve your running technique. You don’t need to love running to be a good runner, to run faster than you do now, or better yet, to avoid injuries. You just need to know HOW to run. The ‘how to’ in anything does not require any emotion. It requires technique.

You’re probably thinking right now – don’t we already know how to run? That’s a negative, trooper. Just because you can get up and put one foot in front of the other, it does not mean you know how to run. You can manage, yes, but is that how you squat, press or lift? So what gives? And I don’t want to hear anything about humans being born to run. When was the last time you ran after your meal? The fact is – our modern lifestyle had dramatically altered all that.

Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change

The solution to the predicament we are in is simple. If we look at the act of running as a skill based movement, than running will no longer be the thing we hate or the thing that hurts us. It will be just like any other movement. To get it right all you’d need is to use the correct technique and then you could do it faster, and also more of it. Now that sounds like just another day at the box, nothing more and nothing less.

Lucky for everyone, there are hundreds of affiliates worldwide that had already figured this out and have Certified Running Technique Specialists on staff and are implementing running drills into their workouts. Some even started RPM Run Clubs. All you need to do is ask your Head Coach about running drills and classes.

Bring it to the finish line

Most members do not realize that they are already more than halfway there. Doing running technique drills is the only thing keeping them from running better and faster. What about the rest you may ask. But what else is there? Speed and endurance are byproducts of running technique.

Technique is the gateway to peak performance. If you’re injured, your excellent physiology means absolutely nothing. The world is full of runners with mind-blowing VO2Max sitting on the couch with a knee or hip injury. Technique work and strength training are the remedy and it is yours for the taking.

Funny enough, anyone doing regular CrossFit workouts is already way ahead of most local runners due to their strength conditioning. So realistically, an average CrossFit member needs a lot less preparation and can significantly improve their running and speed within one training session. How awesome is that?

Let me help you run faster and better. Contact us to host our Running Clinic.

About the Author

Dr. Bruce Tan is a Level 1 Seminar Instructor for Pose Method® Continued Education Seminars. He is also a Pose Method Certified Running Technique Specialist and a Doctor of Physical Therapy. As a former military, Bruce has a special appreciation of integrating skill development into the weekly training regimen in order to support general health and promote higher standard of performance.

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.

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.
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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 ]

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 ]

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 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.
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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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Achilles Tendinitis: What Is The Problem?

Achilles Tendinitis, a common injury for lots of people, especially runners. It deprives them not only of pleasure of running, but also influences their entire daily experience. They spend a lot of money, time and effort to “cure” themselves from this painful injury to be able to continue doing what they love, i.e. running, but in many cases traditional medicine and approach completely fail them. And even in cases where a temporary relief is experienced, it is short-lived and the injury rears its ugly face again and again. A surgery, that is quite costly and comes with many promises but no guarantees, is also usually a futile attempt.

Cause

Feel free to google what’s considered the standard list of causes – running, walking, excessive exercising, etc. But let’s look the truth in the eye. Is it really WHAT we do that is at the root of the issue? Or how much of the activity that we do that we blame for overloading? Sure, there is something to be said about being overly enthusiastic and doing too much too soon without adequate preparation, but what about cases when seasoned runners, well prepared and adequately strong athletes sustain this injury? We need to be honest with ourselves – it is HOW we do it that causes us to get injured.

In my opinion, the main reason of Achilles tendon overloading is either initial absence of or gradual deterioration of coordination of movement when running. This leads to destruction of neuromuscular coordination and then to overloading of muscles and tendons.

Injury Prevention with the Pose Method

A comprehensive look at the most common running injuries. This series breaks down the causes and types of pain along with treatment options for a fast recovery.

And as the cause so is the solution.

Solution

Without disputing the efficiency of any approach to solving the Achilles tendinitis problem, I want to make it clear that it’ll never be really solved unless we address the main cause of the problem – the skill of movement, the skill of running, the running technique i.e. how we run.

I did a lot of field work in running for many years and achieved good results just by changing the way my students run. Mainly, by eliminating the idea of pushing off. This approach is supported by studies as well, however many who coach running to others are not aware of such advances in science, and to top that of, people that like to run, treat running as something that does not require skill development, but only speed and endurance. Yet, how can we get faster and better if the skill is lacking?

So the solution is simple, but the implementation and use might take a bit of getting used to. There is no push off action by the leg during support time, but only rebounding from the ground, based on elastic component of muscles’ work. In Pose Method this understanding was the cornerstone of running technique development. No push off, no concentric muscle work, just a pull of the support foot from the ground, which fully integrates muscle coordination and takes off the load off the Achilles Tendon.

The solution to this problem, from the Pose Method point of view, lies in learning to run proper, through adoption of specific philosophy, concepts and drills to perform the specific action of pulling the foot from the ground and on time, after all, timing is everything.

Running Technique

Technique work is present in every athletic activity except for running. So you simply need to accept the fact that in order to run or to run better and without common injuries you need to work on your technique. To think any other way is simply unwise.

Pose Running Drills

You can find specific drills for pulling action in the book “The Pose Method of Running”, chapter 24, pp.123-130. You also need to strengthen your hamstring for this matter (“Hamstring and Hips Exercises” book, pp.10, ex.# 1,2,3,4,5,7,8,9,10,11,12). In order to unload your feet you need to develop strong muscles in the hips area. I would highly recommend specific exercises for this from the same “Hamstring and Hips Exercises” book, pp.19-26, #1 to 24 in progression.

Here are a couple of drills that you will find useful and could get started with.

The Pony

Stand in the Running Pose, both knees slightly bent, the ankle of the non-support foot slightly elevated. Simultaneously lift the ankle of the support foot while allowing your body weight to shift to the opposite leg, which is relaxed and falling. Sounds simple, doesn’t it. It is, but you have to focus on the following sensations in order to it properly:

  1. Initiate every movement by lifting the support leg, not by pushing down on the non-support leg;
  2. Lift the support ankle vertically, with neither forward or backward direction;
  3. Shift your weight without inducing any muscular tension;
  4. Allow the non-support leg to fall.

Foot Tapping

This drill emphasizes vertical leg action (Fig. 24.5). Many people think of “running” as an action that begins with lifting the knees and then driving forward. In fact, that’s the last thing you want to do. Lifting the knees put tension on the quadriceps and takes you completely out of the Running Pose. Instead, you want to lift the ankle, vertically, so that the ankle, hip, shoulder and head remain in a straight line. So instead of lifting the knee, you want to lift the ankle. This prevents your foot from getting out in front of the body and allows the leg to bend quickly with minimal muscular force.

Conclusion

The good news here is that unless the pain is severe you can continue running as long as you remember that you should stop immediately when you feel that your running technique deteriorates. As long as you run proper, your pain will be gradually reducing. This system never failed me during my long work in the running field.

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.
[ Click here to learn more ]