Whether you're a recreational runner or someone who takes running more seriously, take a look at the ChiRunning technique. ChiRunning combines focus and the flow of T'ai Chi with running to create a technique and philosophy of running that takes the pounding, pain, and potential damage out of the sport.

ChiRunning was created by Danny Dreyer, an ultra marathoner, coach, and author. Danny has written two books, ChiRunning: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless, Injury-free Running (2004) and ChiWalking: Five Mindful Steps to Lifelong Health and Energy (2006).

About ChiRunning

  • During ChiRunning the runner leans forward so the mid-foot strikes the ground first rather than the heel. The ankle, pelvis, and shoulders should all be in alignment.
  • ChiRunning conditions the mind as well as the body; drawing from Traditional Chinese Medicine, one uses the flow of chi to remain centered, grounded and, relaxed while running. Dreyer states, ChiRunning is about having a constant conversation between your mind and your body, getting your mind to train your body to relax, and listen to what your body is trying to tell you. Effortless running is about relaxing muscles, opening tight joints, and using gravity to do the work, he says.
  • The mind actually does most of the work in ChiRunning; it focuses in on the body instructing the muscles to begin moving.
  • The mind must pay attention to the body and all movements so it can make any adjustment necessary to make the run flow smoothly.
  • Breathing should be deep and rhythmic. The more oxygen you can take in the more oxygen is sent to your muscles. Dreyer suggests you practice belly breathing even when not running to become more efficient at it. This will allow you to synchronize breath and stride while running.
  • Relaxing muscles while running will allow for maximum oxygen utilization. Tight muscles can't receive the oxygen they need; instruct muscles to relax and practice this technique while running until mastered.
  • Posture is the foundation of ChiRunnig. When the body is properly aligned, energy can flow freely through the body from top to bottom. When the alignment of the body is off, fatigue and tightness result, producing a swimming up stream effect.
  • As with anything new, begin slowly as you acclimate your body to the forms and techniques involved. Once acclimated you can increase your level of intensity.

Injury Prevention

  • ChiRunning helps reduce and eliminate: shin splints, IT band syndrome, hamstring injury, plantar fascitus, hip problems and the most common running malady, knee injury.
  • ChiRunning reduced the rate at which both moderate and recreational runners suffered injuries. A survey conducted by Dr. Mark Cucuzzella, of West Virginia University, his colleagues, and author Danny Dreyer, of 2500 people determined that injury thought to be the consequence of aging could be attributed to poor running technique.
  • Seventy-one percent of those surveyed said they taught themselves ChiRunning using Mr. Dryer's book. Of these 50 percent said they had been injured before trying the technique.
  • Over 90 percent of the respondents said they were able to change their running mechanics, 60 percent reported improvements within one month.
  • About half of the respondents said they tried ChiRunning to recover from injury, of this number 88 percent said the technique definitely or probably aided in their recovery.

Doctors can introduce patients to interventions that reduce injury and allow them to remain active. ChiRunning is a proven technique that can reduce the rate of injuries plaguing the sport of running.

Runners just do it - they run for the finish line even if someone else has reached it first. -Unknown

Source: Family Practice News 3/1/09

The copyright of the article ChiRunning to Prevent Injury in Aerobic Conditioning is owned by Chris Christian.