Monday, 31 October 2011

The Pose Method of Running

Here it is, just as promised, the Pose method of running.  Originally I was planning on outlining exactly what it entails in words, but then I started confusing even myself (and I already KNOW what it's all about).  So, I figured the best way to learn about this method of running is to watch it:

Go to about 1:25 into the video to get straight into the explanation of what this style of running entails.

The Basics:

So, as you can see from the video, this running style incorporates a few changes to the "traditional" way us North Americans typically run.  Rather than driving our thighs forward and extending our feet in front of our torso, the Pose method involves striking the ground with the foot directly beneath the hips.  Instead of propelling ourselves forward using our quads and gluts, the Pose method suggests we simply snap our feet backwards by activating the hamstrings.

Why Does it Work?:

The researchers suggest this style of running is more efficient for two major reasons.

(1) You are not fighting gravity by trying to propel yourself into the air.  Rather, you are leaning forward and using gravity, as this is more of a method of "controlled falling."  Your legs are simply landing underneath you before you actually fall. 

(2) By keeping the foot directly underneath the torso at point of impact, this prevents the subtle deceleration that is induced when the foot is extended directly in front of the body at the point of impact (with a heel strike).  See this video to visualize exactly what I am talking about.

Does it Actually Work?:

Well, the logic seems there, but I have not been able to identify any high quality independent studies proving that this is the MOST efficient way to endurance run.  Does anybody else know of any?

If you're curious if it will work, give it a shot, and see what happens.  Just make sure you give your body sufficient time to adapt to the new style (i.e. don't start out by running 20km with the technique, get injured, and then quit).  Start by mixing in 1km of Pose running into your weekly long runs, and progress by 1-2km per week for the first 2 months. 

The Undervalued Strength of Pose Running:

Aside from potentially being more efficient, there is another reason you may want to consider using the Pose method.  In this relatively recent study, the biomechanics of Pose running in relation to two longer strides was investigated.  The study found that:

 "Pose running was associated with shorter stride lengths, smaller vertical oscillations of the sacrum and left heel markers, a neutral ankle joint at initial contact, and lower eccentric work and power absorption at the knee than occurred in either midfoot or heel-toe runninng."

So, in other words, the pose method puts less stress on your hips and knees.  So, if you find you are suffering from recurring hip or knee injuries, then shortenning up your stride and giving the Pose method a try is definitely worthwhile.

By contrast, because of the shorter stride and forefoot strike associated with the Pose method, there is a resulting increased stress put on the Achilles tendon and soleus (calve) muscle.  Therefore, the Pose method may save the knees and hips at the expense of these structures lower down on the leg.  So, if you are suffering from injuries in the calve or Achilles tendon, lengthening out your stride and staying away from the Pose may be worth a shot.


The Pose method of running involves a shorter stride and a forefoot strike which occurs directly underneath the runner's hips.  This results in more of a controlled fall rather than propelling yourself forward.  It might be more efficient than conventional North American running, and more importantly, will help to dissipate some of the stress going through your knees and hips.

Reduced eccentric loading of the knee with the pose running method.

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