Monday, November 12, 2012

Chi Running Lesson 1 – Posture

Posture is foundational to the Chi Running technique and critical to building the strong core muscles needed to run efficiently.  I went through all six steps to getting my posture aligned for running

The use of the word “aligned” is significant.  The objective is to have as many of your body parts as possible moving in the same direction you’re headed.  Makes sense.   Back to the six steps:

Step 1: Align your feet and legs so they face forward.  No ballerina-style turnout allowed.  Check.

Step 2:  Align your upper body by lengthening your spine.  Yep, stand up straight – just like your mother told you.  Check.

Step 3:  Level your pelvis by lifting your lower abs.  Huh?  Until I read the book I didn’t even know I had lower abs.  OK – well, perhaps I ignored them the same way I ignore the rest of my abs.  Not a fan of crunches.   The authors go on to tell me I can feel my lower abs by faking a cough.  Cough – cough – there they are.  Now let me get this straight – I am supposed to consciously engage muscles I only use when I cough or sneeze to help me run.

That’s not all – I am supposed to do this without tightening my glutes.  (I do know where those are.)  The first time I tried to engage my lower abs, not only did I tighten my glutes, but every muscle up the spinal column up to and including pursing my lips.  Deep breath.  Try again.  And again.  And again.  Seems the best I can do is lift the lower abs and then try to relax everything else.  I’ll need to keep working on this.

Step 4:  Create a column that ensures your shoulder, hip, and ankle form a straight line.  After doing steps 1, 2 and 3, look down to see if you can see your shoelaces.  Nope.  Need to push my hips back to the rear.  Interesting.  The authors say that many of us stand with our hips too far forward and that making this adjustment will make us feel like our butts are sticking out.  That’s exactly what it feels like; but the side view mirror does not lie – I really AM straight.  Check.

Step 5:  The one-legged posture stance.  While maintaining the correct posture of steps 1 – 4, I practiced shifting my weight between both legs to feel what the legs and feet should feel like while running.  This emphasizes the midfoot strike, which really means the force of each landing is distributed equally over the full foot.  Why don’t they call it a “full foot strike?”  I may ask them someday.   Check.

Step 6:  The “C” Shape.  This is actually an exercise in quickly aligning your posture, or realigning it mid-run.  I practiced it several times in front of a mirror.  Check.  Practice is over – I’m ready to run.

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