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I assume that you clicked into this article because you love running. But does running love you? Do you often suffer from muscle fatigue after your run or worse, do you have chronic pain in your joints or ligaments? If so, the problem may be with your running technique, says Vangietarian’s Angie Li.
My Painful Running Past
I have been a marathon runner for over two years now. For many of my races, I was tortured by plantar fasciitis, a disorder that causes severe pain on the soles of your feet, most specifically your heel. As a a vegan marathon runner, I began to doubt my capabilities and wonder if my diet was behind the pain. I also wondered whether I was inherently prone to injuries? I contemplated the worst thought of all: was I not suited to the sport of running? These negative thoughts kept popping up in my head during my post-marathon recovery. I did consult with other runners and I was told a few times that the problem was my running technique but no one could pinpoint the exact issue or tell me how to fix it. I began to delve further into the various theories behind running techniques but I did not find my answer.
As luck would have it, I happened to be introduced to Dr. Nicolas Romanov and his Pose Method of Running about a year or so ago. I quickly discovered that it is the most efficient and effective running technique out there, one that fully utilizes the laws of gravity and they way in which our bodies are designed to run. Russian-born Dr. Romanov is a man of many talents. Not only is he a 2-time Olympic coach and best-selling author, he is also world-renowned sports scientist and a lifelong runner (he is a decorated Track & Field athlete). Among other things, he specializes in sport biomechanics, sport specific technique, training program development from elite to amateur athletes, exercise physiology, injury diagnosis, prevention and exercise rehabilitation. Over the course of decades, Dr Romanov devoted his time to studying the perfect way to run. Today he is recognized across the world as an international running technique expert, thanks to his ground-breaking (!) work in developing the The Pose Method.
We’re All The Same
Should running style differ from runner to runner, each one as different and unique as their fingerprints? Or is running is a simple sport that requires no highly-developed skills? In many sports, style is of the essence. The variations in style and technique from athlete to athlete can vary greatly. Adherents to the Pose Method must be willing to embrace sameness: according to the program, it is irrelevant whether you are a sprinter, a long-distance runner or whether you run professionally or for fun, all runners should run the same way, in the same style. The framework of the Pose Method is not about what runners do differently from each other, but rather what they all do the same.
What is the Pose Method?
Let’s do a quick physical experiment: stand up straight and then try to move forward. What is the force that pulls you from a standing gait to one of forward motion? The answer is of course gravitational force. Everything on the planet is subjected to gravity, there’s no avoiding it. So why not utilize this powerful force to make life easier? This is exactly what the Pose Method is all about: to teach you to run according to the laws of the natural world, as efficiently as possible and with the least possible chance of injury. The Pose Method can be divided into three elements: the Pose (support phase), the Fall forward action, (drive phase) and the Pull (recovery phase) to recover the swing foot back into the running Pose. So basically, running is a continuous and smooth repetition of Pose, Fall and Pull.
The Running Pose
At this point, you may be wondering: what the heck is a running pose? The Running Pose is the fundamental element that defines all running and runners no matter whether you are Usain Bolt or a toddler in the playgorund. Even though you may not realize it, you have and will be in this position whilst running in one variation or another. To get into the Running Pose, stand up, bend your knees slightly and place your body weight on your forefeet all while gazing forward.
‘Falling’, also known as the drive phase, is what the Pose Model keeps reinforcing in order to move the body forward. In order to ‘Fall’ from the Pose, slightly shift your body weight towards the forefoot while keeping your upper body upright. Thus, you do not lean forward with your chest, or bend at the waist, but rather ‘Fall’ forward from the hips, gently shifting your center of mass.
‘Pulling’ is the recovery phase and according to the Pose Method, the Pull is the only actionable element in running as the Pose and the Fall are passive positions, both being the result of gravitational force. For this last phase, all you need to do is to ‘Pull’ your leg directly below your hip using your hamstring muscles. You need to ‘Pull’ your leg as a result of the changing support while you are ‘Falling’ (basically losing support).
To summarize, the main process of running using the Pose Method begins with passing through the Running Pose, then ‘Falling’ from support and finally, ‘Pulling’ your foot from the ground to recover into the next Running Pose. Rinse and repeat.
You may have noticed that unlike traditional running technique, in the Pose Method there is no knee drive required and no pushing off from the ground. We make use of the inherent force that is gravity to drive us forward, instead of wasting our energy counteracting gravitational force and then pushing ourselves forward. When you first start adopting the Pose Method, it may feel quite unnatural. Your body (and your mind) will be hankering to go back to the way you ran previously. The latter may even feel more natural to you. In fact, you will have to keep reminding yourself that the Pose Method is based on how the human body is designed to run. It saves energy, prevents injuries, allows for greater reserves of strength. While previously you were happily running 5KM to 10KM, after successfully implementing the Pose Method, you can progress to 21KM or even the full marathon distance of 42.195KM? When you run without the Pose Method, you are essentially wasting energy with every strike you make. Once you get used to the Method, running will no longer feel grueling. On the contrary, you will feel like you are floating when you run. It’s an incredibly powerful feeling. There’s no doubt about it: The Pose Method changed my life.
Angie Li is the talented creator, chef and photographer behind vANGIEtarian, Hong Kong’s most popular plant-based Instagram account and healthy lifestyle blog where she shares her stunning bowl photography and simple, nutritious and delicious recipes. She is a passionate vegan marathon runner. With four races behind her, she is due for her fifth marathon in Stockholm, Sweden this June. Angie is also a certified Pose Method Running Technique Specialist. Contact her to find out more about The Pose Method and how she can help change your running life!
All images courtesy of Angie Li.