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Landing vs Loading Clarification

About a year ago I posted on the subject of Running Technique and Foot Landing. That post suggested there is a difference between where and how you “land” your foot; and where and how you “load” your body. It discussed a number of variables to consider on each of these points.

And just prior to that the ChiRunning Simplified video was posted. This video highlights the key principles and provides an analogy to put the potential difference into perspective. In that video the following images were used to compare “Upright Running” and ChiRunning®. The point was to illustrate that Upright Running leads with the leg(s) using muscle and ChiRunning leads with the body using position.

Although illustrative, these images are not really a fair comparison since the Upright Running position is a landing position and the ChiRunning position is a loading position. To be more complete, the images could have looked more like this.

In the Upright Running position, the foot generally lands forward in some way – such as shown with the dotted lines. This forward landing is what some call “overstriding”. Then the body will load to carry its weight; as shown with solid and red lines. This involves muscles of the leg, pelvis, hips and back which tense to support this loading position.

In the ChiRunning position, the foot lands closer to under the body’s center of mass with limited overstriding forward. The key phrase here is to “limit stepping past your hip.” Then the body will quickly load on its structure with limited muscular effort and an opportunity for greater relaxation to exist.

As shown below, with overstriding the path of the ankle is oval or egg-like; and cadence is generally slower. Without overstriding the path of the ankle is more circular slightly behind the body; and the cadence can be quicker with a brief land-load-lift of each step.

The landing/loading differences can probably be summarized with one point: Are you interacting with the approaching ground in front of your center of mass or interacting more under it? This is shown below showing an approximate center of mass. Your center of mass is located +/- in your abdomen behind your belly button. Everyone’s COM will be different since we are different heights and we distribute weight differently.

If you are interacting with the ground in front, you are likely creating some braking and not taking much advantage of gravity. If you interacting more under you, you are likely limiting braking and taking much more advantage of gravity and a subtle forward fall.

Hope this clarification helps. In a future post we will take a look at what happens if you decide to run “upright” but don’t overstride.


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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 MeContact page or his website at

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


Posted on Tuesday, Jun. 28th 2011 11:36 AM | by echifitness | in All, ChiRunning | No Comments »

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