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Chi Running

Discussion in 'Biomechanics, Sports and Foot orthoses' started by James Welch, Jun 26, 2012.

  1. James Welch

    James Welch Active Member

  2. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

    [rant warning]

    Its just more nonsensical rhetoric and propaganda, and ignorance of the evidence.

    I purchased the Chi Marathon book discussed on that blog. First thing I did was open at a random page and it was discussing Lieberman's article in Nature and mentioned that how he compared the foot strike patterns of runners in Africa with those those who wore shoes from Harvard ... duh? Lieberman eliminated the African runners from their analysis!! How can you trust any book that starts of getting basic facts wrong? I tried a few other pages and they made similar nonsensical claims. I put the book down and have not picked it up since.

    The book also fall into the classic natural fallacy trap (I discussed that here). There is nothing natural about it!.

    In my review of Tread Lightly (a good book), I commented:
    It was books like the ones on Chi Running I was referring to (and I own several). Look at some of the 1-star reviews at Amazon.com on them. They pretty much on the mark.

    I continue to be amazed at how gullible people are to fall for the rhetoric and propaganda. There is no second coming of the messiah!

    Even the term "good running form" is nonsenscial as there is no such thing. Its a marketing gimmick. There is no one best way to run for everyone and anyone marketing an approach (ie Chi, Pose, 100-up, Minimalist, Heel striking, etc) as the best way to run is talking through a hole in their heads. Their is no one best way or running form for everyone. The best one is what suits the individual runner, and for some, that could be Chi running,

    Just look at the picture here: http://biomechanics.byu.edu/footstrikesmens10k.jpg
    The are the finalists in the mens 10k at the USA Olympic Trials - look at all the different foot strike patterns ... they are the best of best ... the elite .... is anyone going to try and convince people that one running form is better than another? (...even I was surprised at how many are heel striking at that speed!)

    There is no doubt that some runners with a history of injury who were running one way, transition to running a different way and now get less injuries. There is also no doubt that some who do that get more injuries! As I commented in this thread:
    What does the evidence say:
    Chi running will work for some runners. It will not work for others. To sell it as a panacea is nonsensical. ... and of course, you have to buy the book, buy the DVD and buy the course ... anyone see the pattern?
    [/rant over]
  3. RobinP

    RobinP Well-Known Member

    Great image to use - thanks Craig. I have posted on my clinics facebook page
  4. Admin2

    Admin2 Administrator Staff Member


    ChiRunning is a form of running influenced by t'ai chi.[1][2] It has been described as a "quasi-yoga-based style of running that is purported to reduce injury risk".[3]

    1. ^ Aubrey, Allison (September 14, 2006). "Chi Runners Poised for Softer Landings". NPR. Retrieved December 20, 2012. 
    2. ^ Carol, Motsinger (June 18, 2012). "Motsinger: Columnist shares her course to complete the Asheville Citizen-Times; Half-Marathon Columnist will share her journey in trying to become a half-marathon runner". Citizen-Times. Asheville, North Carolina. Retrieved December 20, 2012. 
    3. ^ Fitzgerald, Matt (May 5, 2009). "Can Running Technique Be Taught?". Competitor. Competitor Group, Inc. Retrieved December 20, 2012. 
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 22, 2016
  5. James Welch

    James Welch Active Member

  6. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

    For anyone considered the dark side and start reading all these books on the second coming, read these books first:
  7. James Welch

    James Welch Active Member

    Craig, thankyou so much for your constructive reply, as always. I also agree with what you have been saying, as each person runs as an individual.

    But also, if there is so called "good running form", then what on earth is "bad running form"!!!! But then if you do look like Jimmy 5 bellies (apologies, UK reference circa late 90's), chances are you're not going to be either a Chi runner, a POSE runner, or any other type of runner for that matter.



    Attached Files:

  8. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

    According to the Evangelists from the Church, bad running form is heel striking! As you can see from the photos linked above, there are plenty of elite runners running very fast with a heel strike!
  9. James Welch

    James Welch Active Member

    Bloomin' nora! I wish I could run that bad. :pigs: :pigs: :pigs:

    Oh yeh, they were flying pigs.....
  10. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

    A month or so ago, I did some high speed filming of the foot strike of most of the runners in a 5k fun run. I did it for no particular reason other than I wanted it for some background videos (will post it up here soon) .... what struck me as they all ran past the camera was that the vast majority of them probably could not give a damn about the rhetoric and propaganda about running form ... they just want to go out for a run.

    BTW, of the few thousand runners, there was one Merrel and one Vibram - all the rest were in traditional running shoes.

    It is easy to mock the rhetoric and propaganda and the silly nonsensical claims that get made for Chi and for Pose and for barefoot and for ... (actually the Pose supporters are often the most fun to mock as they seem to be more sensitive to criticisms than the others!), we do have to spend more energy looking at and considering running form, but from my perspective its about making modifications to the running technique to lower the stress on the tissue that they are having the most problems with ... its not about one form being better than another. For example, forefoot striking is probably the way to go for anterior compartment syndrome; forefoot striking is likely to be disastrous for posterior tibial tendon dysfunction.

    If those that tout once particular form over another could get away from the rhetoric and propaganda (ie the second coming) and nonsensical interpretation of the science and stop trying to sell snake oil and talk about what is consistent with what the evidence is telling us, then they will be taken more seriously.
  11. Sicknote

    Sicknote Active Member

    It seems the top 2 were more towards the forefoot?.

    3 out of the top 4.
  12. James Welch

    James Welch Active Member

    You're kind of missing my point. My original query was what is "proper running form", not whether someone is a forefoot, midfoot or rearfoot runner. (there are several other threads dealing with this topic)

    I don't get what the phrase means, because to me it doesn't really seem to mean anything.

    I appreciate that there are forefoot, midfoot and rearfoot runners at all levels, and as you can see from the two pictures shown above there is a complete mixture across all 20 athletes in the USA trials (irrespective of gender) and this is the elite! I would suggest there is a mixture across the board, but with more sprinters being forefoot runners and more long distance athletes being midfoot or rearfoot runners, as seen in the video clips below:



    This still doesn't answer my question...what is "proper running form"?


  13. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

    I can think of two definitions:
    1. Good running form is whatever the guru that you currently worship this week says it is


    2. Good running form is that technique of running that is metabolically efficient and biomechanically sound for each individual runner.

    BTW, I have not had any hate mail yet from any Chi Runners (a little surprised at that!) but if you go back and read what I wrote, I never actually said that there is anything wrong with Chi running. For definition (2), for some people that will be Chi running..... but they also really good at touting definition (1) which is what I object to.
  14. Sicknote

    Sicknote Active Member

    I was just wandering, do heel strikers tend too lean back more than forefoot strikers?.

    Leaning back more will make you more in-efficient.

    It figures forefoot is better considering the placings.

  15. This guy was pretty efficient even though he adopted a more leant back posture than his rivals. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbqy1Rpjgmw Despite "leaning back" he was still forefoot striking too.

    No. It shows that those guys happened to win in this instance. How do you explain those with a forefoot strike pattern who finished behind those with a rearfoot strike pattern? If forefoot is better, then we should have seen everyone with a forefoot strike finishing in front of all of those with a rearfoot strike. This did not occur because it's not that simple.
  16. Sicknote

    Sicknote Active Member

    Looking at the picture below, he still seems to create more forward lean than his rivals.

    Other factors are certainly involved, no question about that.

    It's just in this instance forefoot strikers won out. Why?. Personally I would buy that forefoot striking has the better potential of using gravity (efficiency) than what we see with heel strikers.

    This increase in lean allows gravity to pull you forward at a faster rate, and voila—your speed increases.
  17. Pictures can be deceiving. Check the video as they approach the top bend and compare with his team mate outside him.

    Gravity acts downwards, it can't pull you forward, only downwards.
  18. Sicknote

    Sicknote Active Member

    To witness how gravity affects forward movement simply mark out 10 metres or so.

    First, walk perfectly upright/vertically over the 10m distance.
    Then repeat the same process with more forward lean.

    You should witness the difference is quite substantial on how fast your able to cover the ground.
  19. Draw it out as free body diagram, add in gravity. Gravity always acts downward ergo it cannot pull you forward. End of story. If I get time later I'll do it for you. If you walk at a higher velocity when leaning forward it's due to some factor other than gravity. Explain to me how gravity pulls someone forward...
  20. Sicknote

    Sicknote Active Member

    No. Running is a series of controlled falls.
  21. Whether its series of controlled falls or not, gravity is never pulling you forward. Thus, your contention is wrong.

    Why not view running as a series of controlled leaps? We have to leap before we can fall when running.
  22. James Welch

    James Welch Active Member

    Sicknote, I think Simon has got in before me and answered the question.

    That commentary is amazing...I'm pretty sure that's the only reason you've posted it.

    And yes pretty efficient......
  23. James Welch

    James Welch Active Member

    The gravitational effect is still pulling you down, not forwards. It's purely over a larger area (I'll explain it in greater detail later, but I'm at work at the moment.)

    For now, let us use this highly scientific video to show it's effect:



  24. Here's Michael Johnson to the right of frame and Jerome Young (drug cheat) to the left of frame. I've tried to capture from roughly the same point in the gait cycle. Looks like Young is leaning further forward than Johnson to me, yet Johnson still whips is ass.

    Attached Files:

  25. CraigT

    CraigT Well-Known Member

    I downloaded the same video- he certainly had a distinctive running style.
  26. If you watch this video from about 2:48 you get a slow-mo of him breaking the 200m world record, you can see his forefoot strike pattern quite clearly here:

    P.S. Its easier to just watch than try to freeze frame it.

    To quote the commentator "That familiar upright running style" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFxH9G1C9ks&feature=related Here's another still from this race (I'd actually go for backward lean here but it might just be parallax)

    Attached Files:

  27. This is a fantastic picture... Note how the guy in 2nd has a marked forward learn of the head and torso and appears to have a rearfoot strike, while Johnson is leaning back and taking the glory spot.

    The guy in 3rd who's at midstance has full foot contact here...hmmm.

    Attached Files:

  28. Jonix

    Jonix Active Member

    I paid the princely sum of £140 to go on a Chi course and find out what it is about. Is it possible that in picking out pictures of elite runners you are somehow missing the point? No one attending my course was elite, honed and sculpted into the perfect shape. There was something on foot strike but that was not the whole point.

    Most peope attending had fairly bad standing posture, let alone running. (Can we agree that there is a good vs poor standing posture?) Chi running first sets out to improve basic standing posture, and to translate that into good running posture - core stability, head position, arm swing. Watching runners in my local park, I often want to plead with them to stop damaging themselves the way they force their bodies round. Imagine the damage done to the spine by standing for hours at that funny angle, let alone running. Chi would be a good place for an amateur runner to start thinking about this.

    Chi running emphasised a runner's priorities - form, distance and speed in that order. A good, safe approach that I am sure, for an amateur.

    Another interesting idea was the use of pain symptoms as something to educate.. My achilles hurts. What does that say about how I am running? Can I adjust my stride, am I going too far, too fast?

    In my view, Chi very much develops a more thoughtful approach to running. There might or might not be a "proper" running form, but for many of us there might be a "better" form.
  29. RobinP

    RobinP Well-Known Member


    I don't think the point is being missed. Whether it is better form or good form, the point is that the optimum varies with the individual. The showing of elite runners illustrates this nicely.

    Most of the regular posters on here accept that Chi running is good for some individuals and bad for others. Similarly, heel striking is good for some and bad for others

    If Chi running is a way of running with "better form", that makes it a panacea, something that most of the aforementioned posters are uncomfortable with.

    How do you know that the runners in the park with "poor form" are damaging themsleves? Because it is logical and seems to make sense.

    Unfortunately, that is not science. See below for why something logical is not always correct

    Mpemba effect

    The Mpemba effect, named after Erasto Batholomeo Mpemba (b.1950) in 1963, is the observation that, in some circumstances, warmer water can freeze faster than colder water. Although there is evidence of the effect, there is disagreement on exactly what the effect is and under what circumstances it occurs. There have been reports of similar phenomena since ancient times, although with insufficient detail for the claims to be replicated. A number of possible explanations for the effect have been proposed. Further investigations will need to decide on a precise definition of "freezing" and control a vast number of starting parameters in order to confirm or explain the effect.

  30. It's so cool, I'll post it again. In this race who had the best "form"? Johnson, obviously. Who had the second best "form"? The guy in 2nd, obviously. Who had the 3rd best "form"... etc, etc. So, we might conclude from this that whoever wins a race has the best "form" in that race and the guy in 2nd had the second best "form" in that race, etc. Note how the "form" of these individuals is different in the photo below.

    In another race, a guy leaning forward and rearfoot striking might be the winner, while the guy leaning back and forefoot striking might be in 2nd. What does this tell us? It tells us the "form" is not necessarily predictive of winning a race.

    Now, lets build a multivariate model to see who will win the 100m at the olympics in London in a few week time. I'm guessing that all of the finalists will be forefoot strikers, so regardless of who wins, they will be a forefoot striker. So, strike position will not in any way differentiate the winner from the loser- agreed? Thus, strike position will not be a good predictor of speed over the 100m final, nor of the winner within this sample. Moreover, other factors will be much better predictors of winning within the model. Y'all understand? I understand that foot-strike position is only one element of the so called "form" of a runner, but it helps exemplify here.

    "Form" for what though? Winning races? Isn't competitive running all about winning races? Or, avoiding injury? These may not be the same thing in terms of "form".

    So, lets do it again and build a multivariate model to see who'll get injured during the finals of the 100m at the olympics. Again, I'm guessing that all of the finalists will be forefoot strikers, so regardless of who pulls up with an injury, they will be a forefoot striker. So, strike position will not in any way differentiate the injured from the uninjured- agreed? Thus, strike position will not be a good predictor of injury over 100m, within this sample. And other factors will prove to be much better predictors within the model.

    It's just one of those funny sampling/ statistical things. And something to be aware of when reading research.

    Finally, lets take our guy in 2nd place in the photo, lets say at the end of the race he found he'd strained his Achilles tendon. If we measured various characteristics of his "form"- forward lean of the torso, foot strike pattern etc and compared that to those of his rivals and built a model, we might conclude that his "form" predicted his injury. But what if he was the only one in the field of runners carrying the genetic marker for Achilles tendonosis, but we hadn't tested for this nor included it as a variable within our model? How do we differentiate the "form" from the genetic marker as the predisposition to injury? If we have known factors which are predictive of winning or getting injured, but don't include them in our model, other factors might seem to be important, when in reality they are not.

    What if we could count the proportion of fast twitch fibres in all of Johnson's muscles and compare that to his fellow competitors here? Might that be a better predictor within the model to predict winning over the "form" variables?

    As Bill Donaldson alluded to in another thread, and I don't want to get embroiled in this, what if we used skin colour as a predictor for finishing position in our picture here? Answer: it should probably be a better predictor of race position than "form". And if Christophe Lemaitre wins the 100m at the London olympics and we put skin colour into our model to predict the winner....... Y'all see what happens when the sample isn't well balanced in terms of a particular variable?

    Sorry to burst all the white caucasian runners bubbles out there....... but your chances of winning at the 2012 Olympics are pretty slim, regardless of your running "form". Predictions anyone?

    If only it was so simple as "form".

    Attached Files:

  31. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

    It says you need to change your form to reduce the ankle plantarflexion moments....and Chi running does not do that. If you had achilles tendon problems and were forefoot striking, and the achilles got better, then it had nothing to do with the 'running form' and everything to do with either a big coincidence or progressive overload adapting the tissues.
  32. Just to clear this up, what do we mean by "progressive overload"? Do we mean micro-fibre failure with subsequent healing and scar tissue formation?
  33. Excellent posting, Dr. Spooner.:good:

    "Chi Running", like its running-form counterparts, "Pose Running" and "Alexander Technique", are based on the idea that "natural running" does not involve heel-striking. The selling of these "new running forms" to recreational runers is only able to work as a business model because there are a great number of heel-striking recreational runners who want to become faster and become less injured and do not want to work very hard in order to get better or become less injured. These runners will do whatever is necessary, including buying a book, taking a class, etc. so that they can to become better, faster and less injured.

    Like Simon and Craig have plainly stated, "running form" is only one factor that may affect running injuries and running performance, but it is a relatively small factor. The current evidence points to the fact that heel striking may be the most metabolically efficient form of running for many individuals, especially at slower running speeds. People choose to heel-strike for a reason when running: heel-striking is likely metabolically more efficient than midfoot and/or forefoot striking running for slower running speeds. However, we don't know which "running form" produces the least injuries, and I suspect, that one type of "running form" will increase the risk of a certain subset of running injuries and another type of "running form" will increase the risk of another subset of running injuries.

    In other words, there is no one best "running form" and the people who claim that there is one "best running form" for all people (i.e. Chi Running, Pose Running, Alexander Technique) are selling "snake oil" as far as I'm concerned, cashing in on the current fad that "running form" is much more important to becoming faster and becoming less injured than it really is. I'm sure in another decade that some other "secret formula" will be sold to runners to make them faster and less injured without having to work too hard for it.

    Only one more vacation day left in the Scottish Highlands....went from thunder and lightning a little over an hour ago to warm sunshine now. Very nice country up here...and the sun sets up here currently at 10:16 PM!
  34. Sicknote

    Sicknote Active Member


    So what is pulling my body forwards more, if not gravity?, having implemented a greater lean angle.
  35. As I said yesterday, draw it out and add in the forces... then post it up here so we can all see your workings.
  36. Sicknote

    Sicknote Active Member

    That non-response to my question tells me everything I need to know.
  37. You don't appear to know an awful lot about anything. Here's your starter for 10, Let G = Gravitation force acting through the centre of mass of the runner, how is this force pulling him forward? Answer it's not, it's attempting to pull him downward.

    Lets add in some other forces: let GRF be the vertical ground reaction force. In this situation the force couple created by G and GRF should tend to create an anticlockwise rotation of the runner...

    Now, rather than expecting to be told the answers and getting your arse in your hand when you don't get the answer you were looking for, try reading and studying a little.

    Attached Files:

  38. P OMalley

    P OMalley Member

    [Check4SPAM] RE: URL Attempt

    Mr Spooner I dont often post anything on here but you have just made my day with your jpeg names.
    I am still laughing and will probably giggle for the rest of the day.

    In simple terms to sicknote what drives you forward is your body working with the ground reaction forces against gravity to bring your COM back into a more stable location so you wont fall over.

    However, why all this debate on technique?
    What is the correct technique for any one? It is dependant on a number of factors: genetics, biomechanics, fitness, strength, flexiblity and chosen speed at which your running.

    If I was michael johnson and had his core, glute, hamstring and quad strength and could turn my legs round at the pace he could then i would be bombing around at that speed with that technique, but i am a fat boy so i can't.

    If i decided that forefoot running was my thing, the amount of wasted energy i would be using up in vertical displacement (because i run so slow) i would have more chance winning a medal in dressage, prancing about like the horse.

    When we the average fatboy decides to don a pair of running shoes we will transistion through a number of techniques as we get stronger, fitter and faster. To jump into to one technique because we are told that it is the way to go is foolish, listen to your body and go with what feels best and you will find you change as you go along.

    i am pretty sure that this is one of the worst foot strike "over proantion" videos i have seen and his arm swing technique is pretty shoddy to, but the boy has done pretty well for himself.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 22, 2016
  39. efuller

    efuller MVP

    It may be the force of friction pushing you forward. I don't recall seeing a paper that has done the calculations of running. In walking, Winter showed that there is a trade off in energy between potential and kinetic energy. There is forward momentum in double support. As the trailing limb lifts, the center of mass is behind the stance limb and this creates a force couple (gravity and ground reaction force) that will tend to rotate the body backward. This moment slows the forward progression and also the body pivots over the stance limb and rises to its highest point when the center of mass is over the stance limb. At this point the forward velocity is at its lowest (and kinetic energy is lowest), but potential energy, in the form of height is at its highest. When the center of mass moves anterior to the center of pressure there will be a force couple rotating the body forward, causing forward acceleration. (The pull of gravity is anterior to the center of pressure) The swing leg will move forward and start accepting weight and the body will have reached its lowest point and repeat.

    It might just be a matter of semantics. When the body's center of mass is anterior to its center of pressure, you could say that gravity is pulling the body forward. However, at the same time, the posterior to anterior component of ground reaction force is increasing and this is pushing the body forward. If there were no friction at the foot ground interface, the foot would slide backward and the body would not be accelerated forward as much. So you can make a case for the ground pushing the body forward.

    Now we can talk about forward body lean. It will help speed forward rotation as long as the center of mass is anterior to the center of pressure of ground reaction force. Forward body lean may not necessarily do this.

    In sprinting, as opposed to jogging, the contact point of the foot at landing is more posterior in sprinting and more anterior in jogging. With this there will be less slowing of forward progression with each foot landing.

  40. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

    Re: [Check4SPAM] RE: URL Attempt

    ...which just confirms that there is no one best way to run....

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