Proper running technique is essential for a variety of reasons. Not only does running with good form drastically reduce your chance of becoming injured, but it also has the potential to dramatically improve your performance.
The Pose Method of Running is a running technique that’s been taught to countless runners over the past 4 decades. Developed by a renowned athlete and Olympic coach, it’s become one of the golden standards in running and has been used by a variety of professional runners to push them to new heights.
So what is the Pose Method of Running? We’ll be dissecting it and discussing how to implement it into your training so you can reap the benefits!
What is the Pose Method of Running?
The Pose Method is a training method and running technique that focuses on the biomechanics of running. The idea behind it is to find the optimal position for every runner to use their full physiological potential.
It works on three distinct phases, moving optimally from one to the next. The purpose of the Pose Method is to help runners identify a running form where they move from one “pose” into the next as quickly as possible.
A large part of the Pose Method is making full use of gravity along with the body’s effort to create ultra-efficient movement. More on this later!
When you run using the Pose Method, you should find that your body is well-balanced and aligned. As your foot strikes the ground, your shoulders, hips, and ankles should all be aligned with the supporting leg.
Getting this method right reduces stress on the body. Properly aligning the body can minimize the risk of injury to ligaments, tendons, and joints, especially in the knees and hips.
One of the best things about the Pose Method is that it can be applied to a variety of sporting activities. Because it’s all about moving from one phase of the movement to the next in the most optimal way, it can also be useful for sports like swimming, baseball, rowing, soccer, basketball, and football.
Where Did It Start?
The Pose Method is attributed to Dr. Nicholas Romanov, a sports scientist and two-time Olympic coach. Romanov was an athlete himself and began coaching while teaching at Chuvash State University. Soon after beginning, he realized that the athletes he was coaching had no instructions to teach them how to run effectively.
As running grew in popularity, so did the number of injuries associated with it. This inspired Romanov to invent the Pose Method of Running Technique in 1977. This method went on to become one of the most popular training techniques amongst athletes across the world.
Romanov specializes in kinesiology, sport biomechanics, sport training theory, and physical education, and sport-specific technique. Part of his studies involved close observation of how humans and animals moved and how physics played a role in it.
After determining that physics is an important part of running efficiently, he set out to find a way for runners to use physics to improve their running form.
Through his observations, Dr. Romanov theorized that runners move through different poses. One of his initial observations was that when the foot lands further ahead of the body, it takes longer for the body to move through the pose. This reduction in efficiency places more strain on the muscles, ligaments and tendons, increasing the risk of injury.
While designing training programs and training both elite and amateur athletes, Dr. Romanov taught them to move through the poses efficiently as a result of proper positioning. This enabled the athletes to run longer and increase speed, while reducing the risk of injury.
The Pose Method has been used by triathlon champions like Tim Don, Igor Polyansky, and Andrew Johns. Interestingly, it’s also been used by CrossFitters since 2008, and by the US Army since 2009.
Due to its effectiveness, the US Army included the Pose Method for the running skill and drill program in the updated Army Field Manual in 2020.
Elements of the Pose Method
While the Pose Method isn’t specifically a running style, it is the best way to identify the ideal running movement for a runner. It helps runners harness the force of gravity to move from one pose to the next as quickly as possible while keeping the body’s balance centered.
To do this, the Pose Method uses three elements: pose, fall, and pull. These elements, when used together, allow runners to move forward, alternating support with one leg while the other leg remains on the ground.
The non-supporting leg moves through the air until it lands, creating new support for the body. This method of running uses gravity as the primary forward force instead of muscular effort, which will improve a runner’s cadence when done right.
The Three Elements Of The Pose Method Are:
The pose, also known as the running pose, is actually a whole-body pose that sets your body up to form an S-like shape.
If I asked you to stand in a running pose, how would you position yourself? Perhaps on one leg, with the other in the air, and your arms bent, one in front of you and one behind. This is basically the pose element of this method.
Your body should be in as vertical a line as possible. Your shoulders will keep the balance of the vertical line and the hips, and ankles of the support leg will be aligned underneath it while you’re on the ball of the foot. The alternate leg is coming up under the hips, which helps to raise the body’s center-of-mass.
As you move forward through the pose, from one leg to the other, you’re essentially falling forward, which lets gravity do the work instead of the muscles.
Your support foot is then pulled from the ground, allowing the body to fall forward while the alternative foot drops freely to create the new support under the body.
2. Falling Forward
Falling forward is vital to the Pose Method, but it does take some getting used to. It may feel unnatural to “fall forward” while running, and you need to keep your ears, shoulders, hips, and ankles in alignment.
Even though this falling method may feel strange at first, it’s a safer alternative to using the head and shoulders to come forward, which increases the amount of strain on your back and reduces your stability.
In order to “fall forward,” you need to lean from the ankles and not the hips. From there, let gravity do the work. The more balance you have, the less effort you need to exert. The greater your lean (angle of lean), the faster you’ll move forward by using rotational torque.
Let’s use one of the fastest sprinters in the world as an example – Usain Bolt. Dr. Romanov measured Usain’s angle of lean at 19.5 degrees. A 10k marathon runner (elite athlete) has an average lean of up to 10 degrees.
To run faster, you’d need to increase your lean angle without getting out of the pose too quickly, or you’ll end up landing in front of the body’s center-of-mass.
3. Pulling Foot Underneath The Hip
One of the vital actions that you’ll have to learn is pulling your foot off the ground using your hamstrings!
For a long time, the traditional school of thought has had runners focus on “pushing off” of the ground or “driving” from the knees.
This often leads to runners inadvertently performing a “late pull,” which can have a runner landing in front of their center of gravity; this creates a counterbalance, which actually stops you from “falling forward.”
When runners do a “late pull,” this actually slows their running down. Working on pulling your foot instead of pushing off will help you get the timing right during the simultaneous exchange when you pull your supporting foot up as your non-supporting foot drops to the ground.
Become a Better Runner
Learning the Pose Method is all about proper technique. Proper form is the foundation of every sporting activity and the best way to minimize your chances of getting injured.
The Pose Method teaches you to keep your body in excellent alignment as you run. This is not only healthier, but it’s actually much more effective in terms of becoming a better, faster, and more enduring runner.
Tips for Learning the Pose Method
The Pose Method can be a tough one to learn. We recommend finding a coach who can help you with it. It can be hard to assess your own form and make changes while recording your progress when you haven’t got a coach to assist.
Whether you’re trying alone or with a coach, here are some tips to help you learn the Pose Method effectively and start supercharging your performance!
1. Start By Learning The Pose Position
The pose position is what this entire method is named after, so it’s pretty important! Begin by getting a good understanding of what the pose position is. Then, learn how it feels to be in it.
Adopt a pose position as we discussed earlier in the article. Make sure your upper body is all aligned. Put your weight on the ball of the foot, not the heel! Make sure your supporting knee is slightly bent, and your other leg is lifted, relaxed, and has the ankle positioned under the hip.
Work your way up to holding this position for a minute before switching to the other leg. Once you can hold it for a minute or more on either side, you’re ready to work on the fall.
2. Practice Falling
Falling can be the hardest part of the Pose Method! This is definitely easier if working with a coach. A sort of trust-fall exercise is performed, with the coach holding you up at the chest while you perfect your fall angle.
If you’re going it alone, you can use the wall to help. Stand in the pose position a little way away from the wall and fall into it. Remember – lean forward from your ankles, not your hips!
3. Learn To Pull Your Foot Properly
Pulling is also easy to get wrong, which can result in a late pull, which slows your pace. A good way to get your foot moving in the right way is to stand barefoot with your feet next to one another naturally.
Slide your ankle up to your opposite leg until you reach the pose position. Then, return to the starting position and do the same with the opposite foot. Take careful note of what muscles you engage when doing this. You should feel it in your hamstrings.
It’s essential to learn to feel the difference between pushing off using the ground and pulling up using your hamstring.
4. Change Support Between The Pose Positions
Once you have a good handle on each of the three elements, you can start trying to put them together. Begin by standing in the pose position. Instead of just switching legs and holding the position, try to change the support legs as if you were actually running.
Pull your foot up from the ground (using your hamstring) at the same time as you lower your other foot to become the support. Make sure to check that you land in the correct position again, assessing your alignment and position.
From there, fall and change support again. Work your way up to doing this 3 times a row (on each leg). Once you can do that, you’re ready to start trying to actually run!
5. Develop A Rapid Cadence
Often, when you want to run faster, it’s natural to lengthen your stride. But the Pose Method teaches the opposite. Getting it right will quicken your cadence, which may take some time to get used to.
You’ll be aiming for around 90 steps per minute. This is more than one per second! An easy way to work on this is to set a metronome for 90 bpm and work on pulling your foot on every beat.
If you can get this timing right from the start, you’ll find it easier to achieve great speeds.
6. Do As Much As Possible Barefoot
Practicing barefoot will help you to feel your muscles engaging and remove any reliance on the technology in your running shoes to propel you forward. It also helps you to perfect your balance and body alignment.
If you aren’t used to doing things barefoot, try practicing on grass in the beginning. This is easier on the feet and lessens impact.
7. Or Make Sure You Have The Right Shoes
Your regular running shoes are obviously what you’ll use when training or racing. You can use these while learning the Pose Method, but we recommend choosing something less plush and enhanced with tech.
Choose lightweight, thin-soled running shoes while practicing. This allows you to get the feel for doing the pose, fall, and pull while wearing shoes, without relying on the bounce and cushion in your shoes to help you pull.
Once you’re used to running in the Pose Method way either barefoot or with minimalist running shoes, you’ll find that the effect is supercharged when you put your regular, bouncy, energy-return running on.
On the other hand, you may prefer to stick to minimalist running shoes once you’ve perfected the Pose Method.
8. Be Patient
Don’t assume that you’ll be able to learn to do the Pose Method properly in a weekend! It requires a good amount of time, effort, and consistency.
We recommend choosing one day a week to work on the Pose Method. On this day, practice the drills and techniques in short intervals.
Sticking to one day a week allows you to keep your regular running schedule as close to normal as possible.
If you keep working, use video footage to assess your form, and be consistent, you may find that your running form improves dramatically, and your performance along with it.