How to Learn Pose Running – The Ultimate Guide
In the 1970′s, Russian university and track team coach Nicholas Romanov developed a training system that would revolutionise running.
Romanov realised that many sports, such as karate, were made up of graceful yet purposeful movements. These actions were characterised by a defined technique, maximised for precision and efficiency. He named each of these specific human movements poses. By breaking down an activity into a bio-mechanical model, Romanov was able to create a teaching program that could be applied to any sport. This was called the Pose Method.
If there was a common approach to sports techniques such as pole vaulting or swimming, why was there not a defined way to teach perhaps the oldest human sport – running? Romanov’s answer was to apply the Pose Method. His newly developed running style was soon adopted by the whole university track & field team. This brought them great results and soon the Pose Method was adopted by Soviet national level athletes. Later in the 1990s, various USA and British Olympians followed suit. With rekindled interest, Romanov’s Pose running style was released to the public as the first ever commercial running technique.
With the surge in popularity of barefoot running, the Pose Method has become an important tool for fixing imprecise running styles and reducing injuries. We’re going to look at the problems associated with running in traditional shoes and learn how the Pose Method can help us move in a more natural fashion.
Who taught you to run?
If you ever took part in school sports, chances are you were taught a specific technique – how to do breast stroke, hit a back-hand in tennis or even just climb a rope. Do you remember being taught how to run? A lack of defined instructions on technique has resulted in a mass of injured and inefficient runners. Maybe we expect that an effective running style should come naturally to us and so never gave it much thought? Yet every year, 50% of regular runners get injured with half of these injuries due to knee problems. Other common complaints include shin splints, stress fractures and lower back pains. What is causing such a rate of running casualties in an activity humans have been doing since they walked (and ran!) the earth?
For some people, it’s not injuries that are a concern but performance. Have you ever wondered how you can improve your 5k time? Most people adjust their training by running further, harder or faster. If you have not considered reviewing your technique you might be missing the answer. An inefficient running style means you will never run at your full potential. The Pose Method is designed to help you run at your full capability with less effort and fewer injuries. Let’s see if we can identify the frequent problems that are keeping you from reaching your new PB, injury-free.
The Curse of Modern Running Shoes
For most people running involves two steps: 1 – buy nice bouncy running shoes, 2 – run. Now this may seem fairly normal but let’s start with the first step. Most regular running shoes offer plenty of support, grip and protection. This means when we run we don’t have to worry about any nasty objects on the ground. Our feet can also hit the ground with great force yet we don’t feel anything. While the added protection may seem worthwhile, the draw back is that we have lost virtually all sensory feedback from our feet.
If you were to go barefoot right now you would immediately feel tactile sensation from the ground. Bumps and dips in the road become prominent and you’ll notice soft ground shifting underfoot. This information is extremely important to us when running and yet modern shoes mean we have lost all connection with this sense. Being able to judge feedback from your feet and move accordingly makes you more nimble and agile. By removing our shoes we can also strengthen our feet and ligaments as they adapt to new stresses. Many people are worried about running on rough surfaces but you will be surprised how durable and capable our feet are.
While the loss of feedback is a problem, the biggest crime that modern shoes commit is against your body. Remember that support and protection we talked about? This soft cushioning masks the incredible stress that travels through your legs as your feet hit the ground. When running, the majority of people will over-stride. As your foot lands, your heel hits the ground first, you place your foot down and then firmly push off for the next step. This heel-strike is the cause of most running injuries, particularly affecting the knees.
Heel-striking also causes an unwelcome braking effect. With each stride, you lose your forward energy as the heel makes contact with the ground. If you took off your shoes and went for a spontaneous run across a field, you would most likely notice that you don’t run on your heels at all – you would instinctively run on the front portion of your feet. This is nature showing us how to run. Eliminating heel striking is a principle component of the POSE Method and is very difficult to achieve while wearing traditional shoes.
If going truly barefoot doesn’t sound like your thing or is impractical (bad weather, rough terrain) you can try minimalist shoes. Shoes such as Vibram FiveFingers or Merryl Trail Gloves offer a good degree of protection but still allow us to achieve the fore-foot strike we are after. Ditching your traditional shoes and going barefoot or minimalist will be the first step in improving your running style with the POSE Method.
Pose Running Technique
We’ve seen how modern trainers impede our natural movement and how that can lead to typical runner’s injuries. Now let’s see how Nicholas Romanov developed a teachable method for optimal running. His solution was to break down the running technique into 3 steps: the running pose, the fall and the pull.
The first step is to adopt the Pose position – you can practice this on the spot. Your body should be relaxed but balanced; with shoulders, hips and ankles aligned. Lift your airborne foot and bring your heel up under your hips. Your legs should form a figure 4 position from a side view. Keep a slight bend in the knee of your supporting leg. Your weight should be supported on the front portion of your foot – not the heel.
Now lean your body forward a few degrees. This lean should come from your ankles through to the hips. You don’t want to bend from the waist. The forward lean is crucial to the next step: the fall.
The fall section of the movement uses gravity to help propel your body forward. We are looking for the forward lean to cause us to “fall” forward, rather than pushing off our supporting foot. This is much more efficient as it uses gravity to your advantage. Imagine the Pose technique as us constantly falling forward to maintain motion. The more lean, the faster we will go.
As you lean forward you will eventually break your balance and will need to land your airborne foot to take the next step. During the fall it is important to maintain the Pose position and keep your non supporting foot under your hips. You want to place your foot under our hips as over-striding will cause a heel-strike.
To complete the action, you must exchange feet so that you “pull” away your supporting foot and replace it with the non-supporting foot. The pull action contrasts to the traditional heel-strike and push off. Remember to land on your fore-foot and let your heel lightly “kiss the ground”. Do not drop your non-supporting foot until you have started pulling away your supporting foot from the ground. Your landing foot should fall under your hips and this will finish the Pose movement. Now the cycle is complete and we have shifted our support from one leg to the other. To repeat we move back into the Pose position and fall again.
While the Pose Method can be broken down into 3 simple stages, it can take a little longer to master. This is often because it takes time for your body to un-learn habits from running in traditional shoes. It may help if you have a training partner who can watch and correct your form. Here’s a quick recap of the cycle in full:
- Remember: Pose > Fall > Pull
- Start in the one-legged Pose position. Stay relaxed with head, shoulders and hips aligned
- Airborne foot must be under hips
- Lean forward slightly and allow your foot to fall
- Land on the front of your foot
- Simultaneously, pull your supporting foot up and under your hips
- You should now be back in the Pose phase, ready to repeat the cycle
Hopefully you will be able to detect the difference in style very quickly. You may feel your calves are working harder and are sore. Skipping/ jump rope is an excellent exercise to help develop strength in this area. You should also try to walk barefoot as much as possible. If you start to experience any pain while Pose running, slow down and analyse your form. Most problems are due to over-striding, heel-striking, pushing off or stiffness in the legs or upper body.
To help you visualise the Pose Method, here are some videos that I hope you find helpful.
With some time under your belt you will be like the karate master, moving with a new grace, ease and efficiency. If you have never reviewed your running style or are looking to improve your technique, give the Pose Method a try and compare your performance. Pose running will help us eliminate unnecessary force and movements while running. Instead we use gravity and our own falling motion to generate speed while reducing injuries. If you would like more information on the Pose Method, you can purchase the Pose Method of Running book.
Pose Method of Running (Dr. Romanov’s Sport Education) by Nicholas Romanov
Have you switched to the Pose Method? What changes did you see? Let us know in the comments. Also, don’t forget to join our newsletter for exclusive palaeolithic content!