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®:
- 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]
- 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.
- 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
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.
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.