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3 Significant Differences Between Pose Method and ChiRunning

There is much confusion and misinformation about the Pose Method and ChiRunning techniques; and they are sometimes stated as the same or similar. Although the Pose Method and ChiRunning both suggest engaging gravity via a slight forward lean and simply picking up your feet to keep up with your forward fall, there are many significant differences between these two running techniques.

Here are just 3 Significant Differences between Pose Method® and ChiRunning®:

Foot Landing:
- Pose Method suggests running on the ‘forefoot’ or ball of the foot. This engages the muscles of the lower leg/foot to support the body’s weight.
- ChiRunning suggests running on the ‘midfoot’. This midfoot could really be described as ‘fullfoot’ since the interaction with the ground is balanced across the whole foot. The muscles of the lower leg/foot are disengaged or relaxed as much as possible. The body’s weight is supported primarily by the structure of the lower leg/foot – and not by muscle.

The statistics suggest that most running injuries occur at the knee and below. ChiRunning suggests a primary cause of this statistic is asking a relatively small part of the body to repetitively do a relatively big job. ChiRunning limits effort, stress, impact and tension in the lower legs/feet which can have a significant impact on this statistic. In addition, having a relaxed ankle ‘hinge’ may also limit resistance to your forward fall. In my experience, any tension in the ankle ‘hinge’ or bearing weight on the forefoot impedes my forward fall.

[Approx. Pose Method (left) and ChiRunning (right) support phase positions]

Leg Motion:
- Pose Method suggests vertically lifting the heel *under* the body to the butt with an active ‘pull’ using the hamstring. If the heel lifts up to the butt, the knee and thigh also move vertically.
- ChiRunning suggests allowing the knee to bend so the heel floats up *behind* the body. This motion requires little muscular effort; and with greater and greater levels of relaxation this motion will occur almost by itself. The knee stays low but does come forward slightly.

For efficiency, ChiRunning suggests alignment in the direction you are headed. So there is limited effort and motion in the vertical direction when trying to move efficiently in the horizontal direction.

Cadence/Speed:
- Pose Method suggests increasing your cadence (“stride frequency”) to increase your speed. A quicker turnover requires more muscular effort to ‘pull’ your heels and legs in the vertical direction faster.
- ChiRunning suggests keeping your cadence constant independent of speed. In ChiRunning speed comes as a result of your technique, a balanced/relaxed position and motion, and not by working that much harder.

For efficiency, ChiRunning suggests a cadence between 85-90 steps per minute (on one side). Once you develop a comfortable cadence value within this range, keeping it constant will limit the feeling of additional effort as you increase your speed.

These are just three major differences between Pose Method and ChiRunning. There are a number of other differences; such as: knee angle during support phase (bent vs. soft), pelvis position and motion, arm position and motion, and hill technique adjustments to name just a few.

[08/12/11 Update: As noted above the only common "concept" is a forward lean, but even the implementation of that concept is different between these two techniques. So if you go through all of the elements of running position, motion, and effort - there are likely no common points between these two techniques.]

Right or Wrong?
Is either approach right or wrong? Not in my opinion. Each approach simply has its own unique risk vs. reward profile for each individual just like anything else in life. Both methods clearly help people avoid a heel strike and to run lighter. ChiRunning *might* be considered more focused on efficiency and injury-prevention by using more position and less muscle. Drills/exercises are used to body sense position and how to reduce effort, tension, stress and impact. Pose Method *might* be considered more focused on outright speed. Drills/exercises appear to be more for developing muscle.

When I was first looking into running techniques, I found the Pose Method first. In the end, ChiRunning was a better match for my goals which are primarily efficiency and injury-prevention. I simply decided that I was not willing to risk injury for speed. Yet I am faster now than I ever was before. I also found ChiRunning incredibly simple and natural; as if I was reconnected with that same instinct I had as a child when I took my first running steps.

Whatever path you take, my advice is to simply be a student. Jim Rohn used to say “You don’t have to do everything you find out, but make sure you find out everything you could do”. With the facts, the decision is yours of course.

Learn more about ChiRunning in this online video: ChiRunning Simplified! Efficient and Injury Free Natural Running Technique

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Thoughts on this post? Leave your comment or question below and join the discussion … Note: To the best of my knowledge, this blog post is accurate per the Pose Method of Running book and dvd. If a technical error exists on this post, please let me know referencing a published resource.

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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 http://www.eChiFitness.com.

ChiRunning® and ChiWalking® are registered trademarks of ChiLiving, Inc.
Pose Method® is a Registered Trademark of Pose Tech Corporation.

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Posted on Tuesday, Mar. 23rd 2010 6:27 PM | by echifitness | in All, Barefoot/Minimalist, ChiRunning | 11 Comments »

11 Comments on “3 Significant Differences Between Pose Method and ChiRunning”

  1. Eric Tobias Says:

    I also started with Pose and switched to CHIRUNNING. I just felt that Pose required too much of my hamstrings I was focused on the use, or lack of use of the hamstrings because I did have the proclivity of pulling them. Knock on wood, I have not pulled my hamstrings for close to two years.

  2. Agnes Le Says:

    David
    Thanks for the clear and concise summary of the differences between Pose and ChiRunning. The graphics are quite helpful to explain to clients.

  3. Jim Haselmaier Says:

    David:

    Excellent summary of the key differences between Pose Method and Chi Running. I, too, think the graphics are very helpful.

    Jim

  4. Matt Metzgar Says:

    I like the graphs here, very helpful.

    My main criticism of Chi is that you are supposed to tuck the pelvis (contract the lower abs). This goes against the work of Esther Gokhale, who shows that the pelvis is anteverted in traditional cultures.

  5. echifitness Says:

    All,
    Thank you for your feedback on the post. Happy to hear it is helpful.

    @Matt,
    ChiRunning suggests a level pelvis; as if a level bowl or a level pant line. It is not retroverted or tucked down in the back. It is a subtle LIFT via the lower abs in the front with no glute effort in the back. A level pelvis:
    - Reduces swayback or lordosis which reduces stress/tension in the lower back.
    - Promotes feet pointing straight ahead which reduces rotation and torque on the legs, knees, ankles, feet, …
    - Stabilizes the pelvis to limit side to side motion which reduces stress on IT Bands.
    - Stabilizes the posture line so there is no leading with the hips or leaning at the hips. Either of these positions asks more muscle to support the posture. The CR alignment is shoulders over hips over ankles (tilted fwd); this allows skeletal structure to support the body weight. This alignment allows greater relaxation; which are two key concepts of ChiRunning.

    Thanks again for the comment.
    David.

  6. Matt Metzgar Says:

    David,

    I understand all this but it doesn’t make it right. A level pelvis is not anteverted – there is a difference.

    You should take some time and look into Gokhale’s work.

  7. Bob Schroedter Says:

    The anteverted pelvis from Gokhale’s website looks to be just a neutral spinal position, or am I reading this incorrectly?

    As the neutral pelvis offers optimal facet joint alignment I can see how one would make the assumption that a ChiRunning level pelvis would be less-than-optimal. I think the level pelvis does offer some posterior tilting but not a lot, as David points out. He calls it a “subtle lift”. And the purpose is to engage the lower abdominals to provide a measure of core control.

    Gokhale’s website also refers to “spinal decompression” vis-a-vis a lengthening and elongation component of the spine (tensegrity). I would offer that this elongation action has more salubrious effects than any deleterious effects from a subtle pelvic tilt towards “level”.

    My $0.02.

  8. Carlos Says:

    Thank you for your commentaries. I started with Pose Method and now I got injuries at the lower legs. When starting I thought It felt strange but I continued till I get “used” to this method. And suddenly, one day after proper warming and having already run for 45 minutes, I got injured, without any alert. I prefer now to land on my fullfeett. I am not saying Pose was wrong, probably simply not for me. At least part of the method.

    Thank you, Carlos

  9. Stu Says:

    Great article… enough information and the righ level of engineering to make sense of WHY to do this – I felt convinced and armed with enough to “have a go”. I will never return to placing all that shock through my body again… I’d rather let the ground have it and keep it for the trees :)

    As a novice runner who’s ALWAYS been poor technique and with back/hip/knee pains and posture problems, I have managed to hold a neutral hip line; run leaning forward from the ankles (I’m sure I was from hip too but tried not to)….

    A very strange feeling indeed – almost like tripping up and keeping up at the same time.

    I can say though – I felt it “just right” at some times and just as hard as ‘normal’ running for the majority of the time… BUT and it’s a big one….

    I did my long route (which for me is 2.5miles) and I completed it in a time that I normally cover my short route (1.5 miles)…. wow!

    It felt like A LOT LESS effort…

    The speed was coming from what felt like an “intrinsic” speed – the minimum amount of forward fall and therefore keep-up with footwork = minimum speed required to prevent falling over.

    What is weird – the feeling of falling over is similar with rear foot movement as when running ‘normally’ at the end of my long run – it’s almost the same feeling…. kind of “out of control” but still there (somehow).

    I hope my post helps/encourages others to “have a go” – whether it’s like me and working with pose/chi mix until I find the way or a rigid technique… good luck!

    THIS IS GREAT.

  10. tina Says:

    ive been practising the chi method for about 4 or 5 months now, and it is a complete change in running style, so I did still end up with some running injuries, but they have now settled down.
    I dont seem to be able to get the pelvis rotation movement to go faster, as described in the book….any simple explanation?

  11. echifitness Says:

    Tina,
    Thank you for your comment.

    Adjustment aches may occur as you transition. An injury may suggest too much (distance or speed) as you transition. Gradual steps is the key to letting the body adapt to new stimulis.

    My advice on the pelvis rotation is that it is something you “allow” to happen, not something you make happen. First, range of motion is important via the Pelvic Rotations Body Loosener. Then allowing the ground to take your foot, leg, and hip rearward. Try it in walking first.

    David.

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