What is Chi Running? Is it Good for All Runners?
Chi Running combines a variety of movement principles based on T'ai Chi.
You don't need to know how to perform T'ai Chi, all you need to understand is how you can transform your running by using your inner core or center.
Chi unites the energy from your mind, body and spirit. The energy then moves from the center into your limbs.
This relaxes your limbs so that they simply support your weight, rather than propelling your body forward.
The chi flows freely through your body, aligning your structure, muscles and joints, making running seem effortless.
Chi Running Techniques
Chi Running was developed in 1999. Since then, the techniques have helped thousands of runners reduce their risk of injuries and recover quicker after an injury.
Runners of all ages and fitness levels have been able to improve efficiency and performance.
They report feeling less pain and find that running is now easier and more enjoyable.
It is a common belief that people are born with a specific way of moving their bodies, and this pattern is difficult, if not impossible to change.
However, Chi Running techniques teach you how to make substantial changes. With practice, your running form can be dramatically improved.
How Your Running Style and Body is Affected by Chi Running
- Posture – Good posture is very important when running. Your efficiency is directly related to how well you carry yourself. Good posture means having a spine that is not too bent and not too straight. The more you slouch, the harder your other muscles have to work to keep you in an upright position. Poor posture restricts blood flow to your muscles and organs, as well as reducing the supply of oxygen to your brain.
- Flexibility – Flexibility is not just important for your muscles, but also for your joints, ligaments and tendons. The more flexible you are, the more you can reduce the chance of injury. Flexibility is something you have to work at constantly. The less you practice, the more your joints and muscles will tighten. For most people all it takes is a few minutes of stretching every day to keep a good range of motion and reduce the risk of pulling or straining a muscle.
- Cadence – Cadence is the number of strides per minute. For most people, the number of strides is low. This is because you naturally want to spend the least possible amount of time on your legs. The longer your strides, the more time the other foot stays on the ground. This puts more strain on your legs because they have to expend more energy to support the weight of your body. Even though this could only be a split second for each step, all of those milliseconds add up to quite a lot over the distance. Try to keep up a cadence of about 80-90 strides per minute on each leg. A metronome can help you regulate your cadence. You will be amazed at how this change can transform the way you run.
- Leg motion – Over striding is the leading cause of knee and hamstring injuries. This happens when your feet hit the ground in front of you instead of inline with your body. Your knees and elbows should be bent to prevent stiffness, which can lead to poor circulation.
- Positive mental focus – Changes require mental focus. In order to run farther, faster and without damaging your body, you need to focus your mind to retrain your body. Once you have determined the changes you need to make, your brain will help your body run this way until it becomes second nature. This will greatly reduce the amount of pain you feel during and after your run, as well as teach you to become more aware of every sensation your body feels.
- Body Sensing – This means listening to what your body is trying to tell you, which will help prevent injuries. Chi Running teaches you how to understand why you feel pain, stiff or sore, and what you can do to solve these problems.
- Proper breathing techniques – There is a right way and wrong way to breathe, especially when running. You should be breathing from deep down inside your abdomen, not your chest. By taking short shallow breaths, you are only using the top part of your lungs, and not taking full advantage of your lung capacity. Your muscles need oxygen to convert food into energy. Any reduction in the amount of oxygen you take in will affect your body's ability to burn glycogen.
- Keep calm and relaxed – This includes maintaining a positive attitude, paying attention to what is going on in and around you, and responding appropriately to what you observe. When you are calm and relaxed, you reduce the risk of straining a muscle. Being relaxed inside and out improves your range of motion and helps you run faster and recover quicker after the run.
- Coordination – Your upper and lower body should be working together in unison. As a general rule, your upper and lower body should both be doing the same amount of the work. Most runners find it difficult to spread out the work evenly. The better you can do this, the better you will feel.
- Proper bending – Bending your knees and elbows is very important. The stiffer you hold your arms and legs, the harder your muscles have to work when you run.
Running can be fun and easy, and when done properly, it shouldn't hurt.
Anyone can learn how to run properly and improve their form with Chi Running. Click here to get started.
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