ChiRunning Tip of the Month
by David Stretanski
ChiRunning Tip - Feeling an Efficient Lean Exercise:
Sometimes it is hard to tell if you are leaning from the waist or from the ankles. Try this exercise:
- Stand tall and lean (bend) at the waist. Notice where the weight in your feet is. Usually it will still be in the middle of the foot or even in the heels. Note that you can stand in this position without feeling much forward pull; and that your back is working to hold up your torso.
- Now stand in your ChiRunning posture, drop your focus to your feet and lean from the ankles moving your nose forward just 1 inch. Notice how the weight has come forward to the balls of your feet or to your toes. Also notice how you feel the pull of gravity forward. You are leaning so your foot is on the gas pedal. But you are not moving so you must also have your foot on the brake. The brake is being caused by the tension in your ankles. If you consciously shut off this tension in your ankles, you take your foot off the brake and you must fall forward.
This exercise helps to feel how inefficient leaning from the waist is. It also highlights how tension in your ankles is a form of braking.
You can also use this exercise to feel the impact on the lower back/hips/glutes and quads when moving while bent at the waist. Stand tall and lean (bend) at the waist. Now take step and notice what you feel. You will likely feel many of the back/hip/glute muscles and quads tensing in an isometric contraction to stabilize the torso with each step. Take a few steps in succession and get a sense of the impact to the body.