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A Standard of Movement
— Coach Caroline, Team RunRX
Here’s what we know:
If there was a shoe that could fix your injuries then everyone would be wearing it.
If there is a quick fix, stretch, or tape that could fix your running, we’d be selling it.
If there was a magic shoe or magic pill to help running and not get injured then you would think we’d know right?
They teach you to:
- Push off your leg and open your stride – which causes issues with your hip
- Reach your foot forward – which will cause impact and stop forward movement of the body
- Swing your arms – which will cause you to pull back causing shoulder and back pain
But actually, all of this cushioning and taping has made us stop listening to our body and mask the pain that bad running form is causing.
Let me explain.
Any golf coach will tell you there is a correct way to effectively swing a golf club; same with a tennis coach. There is even a different way to do a forehand swing vs. a backhand swing.
So what about running?
That is the primary question that Dr. Romanov sought to answer when he came to the United States in the early 90s to work with the US Olympic Athletes. He had worked in Track and Field for decades in Russia and knew that hurdlers, shot put javelin, all had a standard of movement – a way to do the move that was standard in all athletes.
In 2002, alongside Prof. Tim Noakes, et al., Dr. Romanov conducted a groundbreaking scientific study that demonstrated how to reduce, by virtually 50%, the impact on the knees in running. The study was published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercises in 2004.
You are welcome to do more research on Dr. Romanov, but let me give you a high-level overview of what I have learned from 2 years of listening to everything Valerie teaches.
The Gait Cycle
The gait cycle is made up of three elements: Pose, Fall, and Pull.
This photo is from a clinic that Valerie taught. I am highlighting 4 of the runners here because you can see the difference in how we learn, we all have different rates of learning and levels of mobility and fitness.
You are not a better or worse runner, you are not an injured runner or just a jogger’ – you are a runner. You just need to learn the elements. Let’s start with the Pose.
Simply put, the POSE looks like a figure 4, when the non-supporting leg is moving forward. Valerie explains it best:
This is the running POSE.
All runners, no matter your size or speed, pass through what is the running pose. You can see it when you look at these 4 runners. What makes the pose look different is the second and third elements of the gait cycle (the Fall and the Pull). Runner no. 4 is late in pulling and she will have to move her leg all the way from behind her to in front of her. But look at the other 3 and the distinct figure 4 that is created.
Let’s look at how Valerie describes the Fall:
‘Next is the fall and this is the fun part because this is how you learn faster without actually working any harder. We're using what is, of course, called gravity and we're actually going to fall, but fall on purpose.
That's the challenge because your body doesn't want to fall.
Your mind doesn't want to fall.
You're not falling for fun…ever.
So the idea of this falling has to be practiced often so that you can, you're comfortable with it.
Here's what's really cool. I don't have to be going for a run to practice my fall.’
Valerie teaches you how to do the fall by using a wall in much of her free content, but looking at this photo you can see clearly where some runners are pushing out their hips (runner 2), pulling late (runner 4) or hesitant to fall (runner 1 and 3).
Now let’s talk about the pull, Valerie says the hardest thing to teach is the fall, but it’s because people will not let go.
This isn’t our fault.
As children we learn through falling, but as we get into grade school we start to become keenly aware of who we are in comparison to our peers, so we don’t want to fall on our face. This is why we are so concerned about falling when we run. But if you are able to let go, and trust in your natural ability to pull in response, you will in fact not hit the ground, but start running with 53% less impact on your joints.
“I'm gonna pull my foot up from the ground using muscle elasticity, reducing impact on the knee by 53%, and reduces fatigue in the muscle, and gives me 50% more energy by reducing fatigue by not straining my muscles tendons”
Now let’s look at the pull – from everything I have seen, this is the hardest for students to learn. But once they start to fall (usually around the 4-6 week point in practice) they begin to feel the fall and start working with Valerie to get this last element.
‘We want to pull our foot up from the ground ankle under the hip; recovering the pose position, because remember pose is where we can in fall from. So you always have to be pulling to Pose. So you should always be thinking, pulling that ankle right up under that hip.’
With these students you can see when they are pulling and most are either about to pull or pulling late.
Many students have trouble understanding what she means by pulling, because when you practice you pull to the knee but when you run, you are really just breaking contact with the ground and truly just pulling to the ankle.
Pulling is your ONLY job
Let’s take a look at a video gait analysis that Valerie did for one of our students. It shows clearly what she is looking for and as you can see for yourself, just how much of a benefit it is to have someone watch you move and then explain what you are and are not doing when you run.
Let me be perfectly clear – if you’re following the plans that are all over the media, and the exercises, and books that have been part of our running teaching for the last 50 years, you’re not a bad person and you might not be injured. We are really excited for you!
But if you are like me, you:
- Wish you could just go out and run for an hour and not have it wreck you for the next two days with back or shin pain.
- Want to be able to get faster without having to spend hours at the track.
- Want to get rid of pain in your feet, knees, back without going under a knife.
- Want running to not feel so HARD.
The problem is that in order to get to this point, you will have to learn how to run.
You will have to start over and learn a new movement.
You will have to stop doing what you’ve always done or you will keep getting what you always get (e.g injured)
If this sounds too hard and you don’t want to do it, we get it. You are in the majority. But if you are tired of hurting and really want to be able to run for the rest of your life, then we hope you’ll take a listen to what and how we get you running pain free.
There is a correct way to run and if you’re ready to make a change — click to continue
- There is a standard of movement for running but you have to be willing to be coachable and learn something new.
- It’s not your fault that you’ve been running this way, this standard is not mainstream… yet.