By Pamela Mazzuca Prebeg HBSc. Kin, Athletic Therapist
As a runner you’re accustomed to pushing your body to the limit, kilometer after kilometer, while your body endures the pounding force of your feet hitting the ground. You are mentally tough, you can run for hours; even when your body wants to quit you can keep it moving. Let’s face it running is hard, if it wasn’t everyone would be a runner. And most runners, on occasion, have to battle injuries and motivation.
Fortunately running doesn’t have to be that harsh, you just need to integrate the principles of Tai Chi into your running to balance things out. According to Eric Collard, a ChiRunning instructor from Ottawa, “ChiRunning takes the principles and mindfulness of Tai Chi, which is moving with the laws of nature, and applies it to the biomechanics and physicality of running.” ChiRunning uses the forces of gravity to facilitate your running, making it easier and you learn how to train smarter, not necessarily harder.
What is ChiRunning?
Created by Danny Dreyer in California 15 years ago, ChiRunning began to take on popularity in sort of a cult fashion. Over the years it has grown and gained credibility as seen in an one-year study out of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which concluded that ChiRunning causes less impact than traditional sports running. As well, the study showed that there are less injuries, less stress on the joints and supporting structures and an increase in running efficiency among those who integrate the principles of ChiRunning compared to rearfoot strike and forefoot strike runners.
How does ChiRunning differ from tradional running?
First it’s posture – it is all about posture and proper form. Posture for ChiRunning is shoulders stacked on top of your hips, which are stacked on top of your ankles, creating a plum line. “Next, while keeping your core engaged, lean forward slightly at your ankles as if you were falling forward and then your foot strikes the ground in front to prevent you from falling. This allows the ground to become your treadmill, doing the work for you,” explains Collard. Ground contact should be made with your midfoot, as this will help prevent shin splints. Other benefits of ChiRunning include decreasing the impact on your joints, maximizing the engagement of your core, and keeping your peripheral muscles supple and relaxed, while also improving your cardiovascular and aerobic conditioning.
Why give ChiRunning a go?
ChiRunning form improves you will decrease the impact on your body, decrease the risk of impact-related injuries, prevent fatigue, improve motivation, improve recovery time, and become a more efficient runner. And you will cross the finish line feeling better than ever before.