Barefoot, Minimalist, Chi, Pose & Natural Running, what does it mean?
These types of running have become more popular especially since the book Born to Run. For me they are all very similar (if I am honest I would struggle to tell the difference between them!) so I like to just refer to them as Natural Running. The main focus of Natural running is foot placement and landing within your centre of gravity to increase running efficiency. This is achieved by landing mid-foot with a high cadence (leg turnover speed) to use the elastic recoil in the tendons (elasticity of the tendon). Evidence has shown that Natural Running is more efficient and economical, also almost all the elite African runners land mid-foot and they are not too bad at running with 70 of the top 100 world marathon runners coming from Kenya!
So Why is Natural Running more efficient than Heel Striking?
When heel striking your leg is straight when the heel contacts the ground thus entering a breaking phase before the foot rolls forward whereas natural running the foot is all ready on it’s way back when it contacts the ground.
Natural Running uses the elastic recoil in the tendons with a small stride and high cadence whereas heel striking has a long stride and a lower cadence. The easiest way to demonstrate this is by bouncing on the spot, first try bouncing every one to two second (Heel Striking) now try to bounce as many times as you can (Natural Running) what did you find easier?
Does Natural Running reduce the rate of injury compared to Heel striking?
Debatable!! The fully converted Natural Runners will argue yeah it does reduce the injury rate and we have all heard the stories "I could barely run 5k without getting injured but since I read Born to Run I have thrown away my trainers and am now running injury free" (if it was only that simple!). The skeptics will argue show me the hard reliable scientific evidence.
There is very limited actual research on this topic but a more recent study carried out by Daniel E. Lieberman at Harvard University does suggest that Running Naturally will reduce the rate of injury after you go through the transitional phase. Here is a link to his study http://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Fulltext/2012/07000/Foot_Strike_and_Injury_Rates_in_Endurance_Runners_.17.aspx
Also in other studies he has shown the impact relation between heel striking and mid-foot striking http://barefootrunning.fas.harvard.edu/Nature2010_FootStrikePatternsandCollisionForces.pdf.
So how do I transition to Natural Running?
Yes, I have heard it all before it is only the naturally gifted that can run barefoot! Well I strongly disagree with this statement, yes Natural running might not be for some people as it is a personal choice, but I believe that everyone that was born barefoot can run naturally if coached properly and given the time to go through the transitional phase (barring some people who have serious illness or injuries that effect the biomechanics of the legs and foot).
The easy way to learn a new sport is to hire a coach and get lessons, learning to run naturally is exactly the same. Find a reputable coach who can coach you the correct technique, monitor you training and progression and fix any bad habits that might lead to injury or impaired performance.
Natural Running Course £120
(3 one hour sessions)
Back To The Future Of Running
Principles of Natural Running
"Hi Donnie, just wanted to let you know I reached my goal of a sub 3.15 marathon today (3.14.18 in London) and say thanks for your help during the summer. It took a few months to adjust to the new running style but it has paid off with no twisted ankles so far and a more efficient feel to my running. Thanks, Asta."