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Making Gradual Progress

The way we stand and move are habits formed over time from our life experiences. Making adjustments to your posture and motion will take time; but with consistent focus and practice, not nearly as much time in which those habits were formed.

In a previous post ‘A Journey of a Thousand Miles‘, the principle of Gradual Progress was introduced. This is a key principle for any change, not just your posture or your running/walking technique. It is a key principle of nature itself. Everything in nature transitions from state to state incrementally. When something in nature attempts to skip a step; and is inefficient or out of balance for too long, it is usually reminded of this principle with impact to its longevity.

Here is another way to look at it. If you had a choice, which set of steps below would you rather climb? Orange or Blue?


Perhaps most of us have never thought about it, but steps are designed specifically to allow humans to make Gradual Progress balancing effort with efficiency. Too little a step means too little effort and lower efficiency. Too big a step means too much effort and lower efficiency. Steps have a height (rise) and depth (run) based on their purpose.

If you have ever run or walked a hill and it felt much like a lot a additional effort, it could be that you were taking too big of a step. If you ever added too many upgrades (long, total miles, hills, intervals, etc) to your training program, you may have been asking your body to take too big a step forward.

When we take too big a ‘step’, we can get out of balance. When we get out of balance, all kinds of compensations take over for the primary goal of survival (or the survival of the goal). We use more ‘muscle’, or other muscles not designed to handle the task; and maybe we sacrifice the long term to support the short term. Out of balance for too long, say in the repetitive stress motions of life, we can create resistance in the form of tension, fatigue, discomfort, aches/pains and eventually injury and/or dis-ease.

The question again comes back to “On average, what kind of steps are you taking as you move through the many aspects of your life?” … both physically and mentally. Are they steps balancing effort and efficiency, maximizing forward momentum and minimizing resistance or  are they steps which skip steps and/or pull you out of balance?

I experienced the negative effects of this concept a few years ago through my running. At one point, I struggled to run consistently due to nagging injuries for almost two years. That was almost four years ago and I have been running injury-free ever since. What changed? I did. I was introduced to ChiRunning and realized that both my running technique and my running program was out of balance. Both were asking my body to move in a state of in-balance and against simple principles of nature.

As I changed my approach to my running(*) through ChiRunning for effortless, injury-free running, I never expected its simple principles of nature to also teach me so much about the rest of life in nature. At first I thought this the bonus, but now realize it was clearly the prize.

[* and later my walking through ChiWalking so I can apply the principles all day long.]


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David Stretanski is a holistic health, fitness and wellness coach and Certified ChiRunning®/ChiWalking® Instructor. For more information on David, please see his About Me, Contact page or his website at

ChiRunning® and ChiWalking® are registered trademarks of ChiLiving, Inc.


Posted on Monday, Oct. 19th 2009 5:43 AM | by echifitness | in All, ChiRunning, ChiWalking, Fitness, Wellness | 1 Comment »

One Comment on “Making Gradual Progress”

  1. Should We Run Barefoot? « EnerChi Fitness Blog Says:

    […] There are no shortcuts to developing new habits.  The most effective approach is likely to make Gradual Progress resulting in long term success. – Running barefoot is best done with relaxed feet.  Putting […]

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