More on posture in Gainesville
With the risk of you all saying “Oh boy, here he goes again,” I am going to carry out the faux pas of writing another post on the back to back topic of leaning forward when running. (This is all assuming level ground)
If you missed the last post, I was venting about these running techniques like Chi Running, Pose Method, Evolution Running and other running coaches who are telling people to slightly lean forward when they run, because “when you lean forward, gravity will assist you by pulling you forward.”
Personally, I think this is BS and I showed a couple videos to strengthen my argument.
OK, so on to this post and why I’m back on the same topic. I really hadn’t planned on it, but outside influences have forced me into it!
The first influence was Amby Burfoot – writer for Runners world. He just wrote an article titled “Does Leaning Forward Help You Run More Efficiently by Letting Gravity Do Some of the Work?” He says, “I’ve heard this argument often, almost always without any convincing evidence. This time I decided not to let it just slide by.“So, Amby asked this question to 3 experts, Physicist Michael Tammaro, Ph.D., at the University of Rhode Island and a 15-time marathoner with a PR of 2:49; Steve Magness, who has a master’s degree in exercise science and works as assistant coach to Alberto Salazar at Nike’s Oregon Project; and biomechanist Irene Davis, Ph.D., director of the new National Running Center at the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston.
All the panelists agreed:
“gravity can do nothing to improve your running efficiency on a flat surface. That’s because gravity provides no horizontal force; it simply pulls you back down to the earth.”
Tammaro goes on to explain:
“At the start, the sprinters are leaning forward because they’re accelerating. But after about 30 meters, their speed doesn’t change much, so they stop leaning. If leaning forward with gravity made them faster and more efficient, they’d keep leaning all the way, wouldn’t they?“
So there you have it – don’t lean forward, right?
Not so fast. Just when I’m about to say “I told you so”, the article goes on to say, “Still, all three experts did favor a slight forward lean while running.” WHAT?? Say it isn’t so! They all go on to give their opinions, such as Steve Magness (whom I respect a great deal):
“It’s more about correct body position than a lean per se. You want to make sure you aren’t arching your back, and sticking your butt out. I emphasize a very slight forward lean from the ground, not a bending at the waist.”
So, here’s my problem…
With respect to Steve Magness’ last quote, that’s where the problem lies. When you tell someone to slightly lean forward, they have trouble NOT bending from the waist. In my experience, when people come into the office for a gait analysis, the ones that are bent forward at the waist tell me they read that leaning forward was good, so that’s what they’re trying to do. There is a serious disconnect between what they read and the way they execute it. Most people will lean forward from the waist, not the ankles. Partly this is due to weak gluteal muscles that can’t hold the posture during midstance and partly due to thinking they are doing something, but not executing it properly.
Even if they did execute it properly, they tend to overdo it. I think the supposed forward lean is intended to be so slight, it’s not worth it. This brings me to the second influence that prompted this newsletter. Jay Johnson is the Nike Running Coach and again, I guy whom I respect a lot and soak in most everything he says. However, in a couple recent podcasts (25:55 of this podcast and 43:58 of this podcast and even here on his blog, he talks about how great it is when you run with a forward lean of “1 or 2 degrees.”
REALLY? 1 or 2 degrees? C’mon people, let’s not confuse the issue anymore than it is. If you’re going to try and get 1 or 2 degrees of a lean, it’s not worth trying at all. That’s as close to being vertical as you can get, without being vertical. Just run with a vertical posture and get on with it!
There you have it. My rant is over.
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