Running With Less Impact - Chi Living

Running With Less Impact

Posted by Danny Dreyer on Mon Nov 24th, 2014, 3 comments

In Chi Running, one of our basic goals is injury prevention. You can basically divide almost all running injuries (outside of accidents) to one of two categories: overuse and impact. I've never taken the time to study which one creates more injuries, but I'd be curious to find out. Today I'm talking about impact.

We all experience impact when we walk and run. We feel it in our feet, ankles, knees, quads, hips,  lower back, or even our neck; it depends on where our particular weak spot is. So, it seems that one of the basic thoughts running through our heads should be, "How can I walk or run in a way that creates less impact?" It's a question I've been pondering for years, and here are some of the answers I've come up with. I work best with images, because thinking is too much work.

The ruling idea I use is to do everything I can to not touch the ground when I run. I know, it's impossible… but just having the thought can actually bring me closer to reducing my impact. If impact happens when I come down, then I want all of my thoughts to be in the opposite direction… up. 

The parasail: I imagine the crown of my head is attached to a thin cable being pulled up, and forward, by a parasail.

Ankle balloons: I imagine that I have little hot air balloons tied to my ankles and they're gently lifting my ankles at the end of each stride.


Holding up the clouds: I imagine that I'm holding up the clouds with the top of my head.

Running on thin ice: I imagine I'm running across a pond that has only recently frozen over… and I don't want to break through the ice.

Sneaking up on someone: I run like I'm trying to sneak up on someone without them hearing me. This forces me to pick up my feet instead of coming down hard on my feet.

Leaving no footprints: There is actually a stanza from the Tao Te Ching that says, "A good runner leaves no footprints." Try it sometime… whether you're running on the beach.. or on concrete.

Floating across the surface of the Earth: A very wise friend of mine once said, "Why run somewhere you could float to?" Mohammed Ali also famously said, "Float like a butterfly…"

These are a just few of the images I use to take away impact. See if you can come up with some of your own. We'd love to hear them and we can certainly all use them!



3 CommentsLeave a comment below

What a brilliant post, found this so amazingly useful!!
Thank you

My thoughts are that allowing the ankle to float up, although a relaxing analogy, seems to result in delayed ankle lift and hyperextension of the hip on that side (the foot if not pulled up quickly ends up way in back of your body). Am i thinking correctly about this? Also, with a leg way back there, flexing the knee to lift the ankle is biomechanically tough (actually can cause injury) on the hamstrings (best way to contract hammies is with some degree of HIP flexion—it’s the biomechanically natural and sound way of lifting the ankle). What am I missing here, folks?

what a post, really helpful!

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