ATLANTA – Though your legs may be able to bring you to the start line, your core gets you to the finish, according to the fundamentals of Chi running. Experts at today’s American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) Health & Fitness Summit & Exposition discussed the physics and benefits of the technique.
Dixie Stanforth, M.S., and Karen Smith, M.A., say core activation is essential for efficient movement, particularly distance running. Chi running is based on the concept that a strong and stable core improves performance by allowing the arms and legs to move freely while the spine/trunk provides stability.
“Core supported alignment, combined with forward lean, allows for the majority of the rest of the body to remain tension free and relaxed,” said Stanforth.
A strong and stable core is essential during all activities – whether sport-related, such as running or basketball, or real life activities like picking up groceries, say Stanforth and Smith. Having a strong and stable core is the foundation for any functional movement pattern, and trainers need to be mindful of alignment and technique during all activities.
“Chi running is about relaxed running,” said Smith, a certified Chi running instructor. “By creating the correct alignment of the posture with core activation and stabilization, you are able to use gravity to work with you, allowing other muscles to relax and function more fluidly. This decrease in unnecessary muscle tension improves energy efficiency.”
This technique has been shown to have success with injury prevention, particularly simple injuries in the lower leg, such as plantar fasciitis and shin splits. Chi running, particularly in advanced runners, has also been known to minimize other overuse injuries because the feet are free to relax and land mid-sole, eliminating heel strike.
Stanforth and Smith recommend Chi running beginners seek out a certified instructor, who can give instruction and feedback on form and technique.
“It is about body sensing and becoming aware versus the old concept of tuning out and when it becomes uncomfortable, sucking it up,” said Smith. “In general, the public knows core strength is important. However, in order for it to be practical, they must also understand why and how to implement it into their recreational sports and traditional exercises.”
The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 35,000 international, national, and regional members and certified professionals are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine.