POSE Running

Posted: April 11, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

The sport of running is one of the most popular ones in America. One reason is because anyone can do it. All you have to do is strap on a pair of sneakers and open your front door. There are numerous positive effects of running. Some of these positive physiological adaptations we see are; decreased weight, decreased body fat, increased aerobic capacity, decreased blood pressure, and increased insulin sensitivity (Ramzan, 1994). This all sounds great, but there are some negative effects of running that come with the positives.
According to the Sports Injury Clinic the following are common injuries associated with running. They are; runner’s knee (IT Band syndrome), shin splints, anterior compartment syndrome, plantar fasciitis, patellofemoral pain syndrome, and stress fractures (Sports Injury Clinic, 2011). All of these can be extremely painful and debilitating. What causes all of these injuries? Most people are never taught how to run properly. Most of these injuries are caused by improper biomechanics.
Inefficient running biomechanics is the main culprit along with the current sneakers on the market. Most sneakers are made with maximum cushion on the heel. This is marketed as better support, but in reality it is increasing our likelihood of injury. According to Lieberman a thicker heel in sneakers causes us to strike on our rearfoot, or heel. He also stated in his research that midfoot landing has lower impact forces which result in lower chance of injury (Lieberman, 2004).
Another biomechanical deficiency in running is not keeping our knee slightly bent upon impact. Tongen researched this topic and concluded that running with a stiff leg causes a greater amount of forces on the knee joint. The greater the forces applied to the knee the greater the chance of sustaining a knee injury (Tongen, 2010). What can we do to protect ourselves from these injuries?
Learning proper running mechanics from a certified running coach is one way. One technique of running that has been proven to limit forces applied to joints and also to conserve energy is the POSE method of running. The POSE method of running was developed by Dr. Romanov in Russia in 1977. He started by studying the pictures drawn by the ancient Greeks. He determined that they were the first civilization to utilize running as exercise and detailed this in very detailed drawings (Romanov, 2002).
The basic premise of the POSE method is to limit forces placed on joints and to conserve energy. So then how do we limit the amount of forces we place on our joints? Dr. Romanov determined that we need to land directly underneath our center of mass with our knee slightly bent. According to Hall our center of mass is the point at which our body is balanced around (Hall, 2007). In running this means that our foot should land directly underneath our hips. As stated earlier by Lieberman landing on our midfoot causes less impact forces on our knee. Therefore, we should land underneath our hips on the midfoot.
A common misconception out there is that we should run heel to toe. Lieberman proved this to be incorrect, but if we break it down it proves to be inefficient as well. Picture landing on your heel with your leg out in front of your center of mass. Your foot strike would be slowing you down. Does anyone go out and run to be slower? I would imagine not. Therefore, for performance reasons landing on our midfoot under our center of mass is critical.
The next phase of the Pose method is to pull our foot straight up underneath our hips. This is utilized to save energy. When we contract our hamstring to lift our foot we are using a large muscle group to lift minimum weight. A common running error, according to Dr. Romanov is people will get too much hip flexion. In doing this the person is lifting the weight of their leg, which is much heavier then the weight of the foot, with their hip flexors. This leads to greater energy usage. We want the pulls to come up as high as possible. This limits the amount of time we spend on the ground competing with ground forces (Romanov, 2002).
According to the POSE method the ultimate way to conserve energy is to use gravitational forces to pull us forward. We do this by leaning. We keep our cores tight and aligned and bring our shoulders over our toes. When we do this our feet need to move forward to catch us from falling. That is gravity working to pull us forward (Romanov, 2002). Using the earth’s gravitational force makes it so that we do not have to push off of the ground every time we stride. Pushing off can actually lead to injury. When our knee joint gets locked out quickly during the backwards swing of the running stride our chance at pulling a hamstring increases (Romanov, 2002).
In order to be faster we need to increase stride frequency. Gait is predetermined and once it has been reached the only way to get faster is by increasing stride frequency and increasing our lean. In order to increase stride frequency we need to pull our foot from the ground to just under our hips faster. This limits ground forces even more. By increasing our lean we increase the use of earth’s gravitational forces (Romanov 2002).
Our upper bodies need to perform as little movement as possible. Our arms should stay nice and compact to our sides and move in sync with our strides. This allows our body to move as one unit in the same direction while saving energy. When our arms move faster than our legs we get rotation in our upper bodies. This forces excess movement in the horizontal plane and will slow us down and cost us energy (Romanov, 2002).
Running is a skill and it requires practice. There are numerous drills that can be practiced to work on all of these concepts. After drilling these exercises short runs should be completed so that we can continue to work on good form. As we fatigue we will be more apt to fall into the same poor movement patterns as we did before. Once we continue to develop these skills we can attempt longer runs.
In conclusion, the POSE method of running is designed to minimize common running injuries while allowing us to conserve energy. We need to land on our midfoot underneath our hips, which should be our center of mass. This is followed by contracting our hamstring to lift our foot up right underneath our hips. To move forward we keep our core tight and lean and fall. In order to be faster we need to maximize our gait and increase stride frequency. Relearning how to run properly can have a great part in increasing our overall health and well being as well as performance.
Romanov, Nicholas (2002). POSE Method of Running. Posetech Corp. Coral Gables, Florida.
Hall, Susan (2007). Basic Biomechanics. McGraw Hill. New York, NY.

Sports Injury Clinic (2011). Running Injuries. http://www.sportsinjuryclinic.com. Retrieved on October 3, 2011.

Lieberman, Daniel (2004). Biomechanics of Foot Strikes. http://www.harvard.edu. Retrieved on October 3, 2011.

Tongen, Anthony (2010). Biomechanics of Running and Walking. http://www.mathaware.org. Retrieved on October 3, 2011.

  1. Megan says:

    It’s amazing to watch young children run barefoot. They have perfect form! I let my oldest run around barefoot outside all the time.
    I highly recommend the book Pose Method of Running which Kevin cites. It;s a great resouce to understand the mechanics behind proper running technique/form.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s