Does Usain Bolt run Pose style?

The contrast between the muscular torso, arms and legs of a sprinter compared with the slight frame and skinny legs of a marathon runner tell us that the requirements for effective sprinting are not the same as for efficient long distance running.  Nonetheless, as I have grown older I am acutely aware of my loss of speed and am eager to do something to arrest this decline.  During my recent examination of the implications of Newton’s equations of motion for the mechanics for efficient running, I have pondered what these equations tell us about sprint technique.  The equations demonstrate that a high cadence and a short time on stance facilitated by a relatively large vGRF generated by a strong push, are key elements of efficient fuel consumption.  Although efficient fuel consumption is not as important for a sprinter as for a distance runner, observation of elite sprinters demonstrates that high cadence and short time on stance are also key features of fast sprinting.

How can we achieve a short time on stance? Anyone who has followed my blog for a while will probably know that I am sceptical about the claims of Dr Romanov’s Pose technique, but I am not inherently anti-Pose.  For more than eight years I have been fascinated by Pose on account of the fact that it appears to facilitate a short time on stance. I have read widely about it, talked to many Pose coaches and even attended a two-day Pose clinic conducted by Dr Romanov, in an attempt to sort out the science from the pseudo-science.  Despite the fact that Pose theory is based on questionable physics, observation of masters of the Pose technique reveals that they can achieve a very rapid lift-off from stance.  During the two-day Pose clinic the observation that impressed me most was the way in which Pose coach, Jon Port, reacted when Dr Romanov gave him a sharp sideways push on his shoulder while he was standing poised on one leg.  Instead of falling sideways, Jon managed to remain upright by getting airborne before his body had a chance to pivot sideways around his point of support.

Therefore, I have been rather intrigued by Dr Romanov’s article on the Post Tech website in which he appears to claim that Usain Bolt runs Pose style.  In an analysis of Bolt’s technique exhibited during the 100m World Championship in Berlin in 2009. Dr Romanov claims he is not “pushing off” but is “waiting”, “allowing” gravitational torque to provide the angular acceleration of the GCM’.   I do not think Dr Romanov’s description of Bolt ‘waiting’ on stance while he allows gravitational torque to provide acceleration of his centre of mass is credible.  There is no way that waiting for gravity to act, without an active push, could get him moving forwards and upwards with the required speed.  Nonetheless, could it be that Bolt’s legendary relaxed manner reflects a mental state similar to that which enables a good Pose runner to get airborne quickly without conscious awareness of a push?

My attempts to identify the features of Pose that promote a short time of stance have led me to conclude that it is achieved by two related features.  Pose drills such as ‘change of stance’ promote rapid flexion of the hip accompanied by flexion of the knee.  In addition, I believe the conscious focus on rapid lift off advocated by Pose can lead to tensioning of the major muscles of the leg at point of impact thereby facilitating efficient capture and recovery of impact energy via elastic recoil.  The combination of efficient recovery of impact energy via elastic recoil and rapid flexion of hip and knee creates a mental focus that promotes a short time on stance and an associated large vGRF.  Does Bolt achieve his powerful drive from stance by this mental focus, or does he consciously focus on a powerful push?

Tim Huntley, who writes a blog about his goal of running a fast 400m, recently posted an article in which he asks whether or not Pose is the way to go.  The responses make a very interesting debate.  Brian McKenzie replied ‘Yes, the Pose method is the only way we really run’.  In contrast, Tom Tellez, former coach of Carl Lewis, was very dismissive, saying  ‘Running action such as reaching and pulling with the hamstrings has been scientifically proven not to produce the most efficient movement. ’ Tellez quotes Peter Weyand’s evidence that  faster running speeds are achieved with greater ground forces, not more rapid leg movements (see Journal of Applied  Physiology, vol 89: pages 1991–1999, 2000)

Tim emailed Dr Romanov who replied in typically vague Pose style: ‘Sprinting or any running is the product of gravity, shaped and moulded by this universal field of the force.  The cadence and efforts of a sprinter are governed by the angle of falling.”   Tim also posted a link to a U-tube clip in which Bolt describes his own understanding of what he does.  ‘After the acceleration phase the goal is to: ‘Keep driving, driving, driving.. …. After completing the drive: ‘Get tall, knees up, dorsiflex, get your toes up, plant, push again’

Bolt’s own emphasis on driving and pushing are somewhat at odds with Dr Romanov’s  claim that he is not pushing off.  Could it be that when he runs he lets his natural instincts take-over, and what he says on the video is merely an attempt to put into words something that is too primeval for words.  I think this is very unlikely.  As Tim Huntley reports, Bolt’s coach Glen Mills makes it clear that Bolt’s style is not the product of some natural primeval intuition.  According to Mills, when he started working with Bolt ‘one of the things that stood out like a sore thumb was his poor mechanics.   We set about doing drills, then we took videos of his workouts and broke them down on the screen in slow motion to show him exactly what he was doing.’

So I think the evidence is fairly clear that Bolt achieves his powerful drive from stance as a result of a physical and mental process that focuses explicitly on a powerful push.  However, I believe that a conscious focus on pushing is only likely to be successful if you have finely tuned bodily awareness, together with rapid reactions to the sensations generated by ground contact.  Without such awareness and rapidity of reaction, it is likely that a conscious focus on pushing will result in too long a delay on stance.  Therefore, in my own attempts to arrest the decline in my speed, I practice Pose drills such as ‘change of stance’ and when running, I focus on rapid lift off from stance rather than pushing.  I would not recommend Pose for a runner with serious hopes of achieving elite status, but for a recreational runner, it has some worthwhile features.

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76 Responses to “Does Usain Bolt run Pose style?”

  1. Simon Says:

    Claiming that elite runners are “Pose runners” has been a rather silly pastime on the Pose forums and elsewhere for as long as I can remember. I try not to let it detract too much from the good things Pose has brought to the table. Pose can be a strange blend of journalistic headline grabbing BS, dubious pseudo-science, but also some really well thought out ideas. I’m sure you, like me, have learnt something from the good bits.

  2. Klas Says:

    Canute, I think Weyand’s paper is valuable, but slightly misleading in the conclusions. Have you read the paper by Kugler about the cause of acceleration?

    http://www.jbiomech.com/article/S0021-9290(09)00526-0/abstract

    He showed that acceleration is not caused by greater forces, but by more optimal force application. Weyand studied constant speed running. He showed that time on stance is shorter at higher speed, In order to maintain higher speed, a runner must therefore be able to generate higher vGRF in the short time available, to get sufficient air time for repositioning. I understand your point of view that a short time on stance is efficient at high speed. But I don’t think we have a choice. The range of motion makes time on stance shorter with higher speed.

    Weyand showed that the impulse goes down near top speed. My interpretation is that when the runner is no longer able to generate enough impulse for repositioning, the result is overstriding and the braking part of stance will exceed the propulsive part, and the runner slows down.

  3. canute1 Says:

    Klas,

    The question of how one achieves maximum acceleration is not the same as how one maintains maximum constant speed. As you point out, Kugler demonstrated that peak acceleration is achieved by optimum direction of application of force. When accelerating, the impulse from forward hGRF exceeds the impulse from backward hGRF and it is beneficial to be in contact with the ground for a larger portion of the gait cycle than during constant velocity running (when forward and backward impulses are equal assuming zero wind resistance). Therefore during accelerated running, the emphasis is on increasing cadence rather than increasing vGRF. However, at constant velocity it is desirable to minimise time on stance to minimse braking. This is achieved by creating a greater vGRF, consistent with Weyand’s finding that the fastest runners achieve the greatest values of vGRF.
    As you also point out, Weyand observed that vertical impulse decreased at top speed despite the increase in vGRF. This is in accord with the fact that impulse is the product of average vGRF by time on stance,. Longer time on stance leads to greater braking. This, the requirement for peak sprinting speed is peak vGRF rather than peak vertical impulse. As speed increases from mid-range to top speed, vertical impulse decreases because time on stance decreases while vGRF increases.

    With regard to whether or not we have any choice about this, I believe we have a choice insofar as we can train to achieve higher vGRF and shorter time on stance. That is what I understand sprinters do, and indeed I am also trying to do this to a somewhat more limited extent.

    As I see it, short time on stance allows a smaller range of motion of limbs relative to COG

    • Klas Says:

      It seems to me the we agree on the mechanics. I agree that sprinters need to train to generate high vGRF. My point is I don’t think they do this in order to reduce time on stance and thus be more efficient.

      Bolt has hardly any vertical oscillation of the torso. I see no room for longer time on stance at his cadence and speed. He trains to generate enough vGRF in the short time available for stance at his speed.

    • canute1 Says:

      Klas,

      Perhaps we have are caught up in a chicken and egg debate. However as I see it, aiming to decrease time on stance is a useful goal because braking (and also repositioning cost) are less when time in stance is short.

      It is commonly stated that we should try to land with the point of support as near to being under the COG as possible in order to minimise braking. I wholeheartedly agree with this recommendation (though of course I recognise that this demands high vGRF which can be risky).

      As for the question of vertical oscillation of the torso, it is inevitable that the body falls when it is airborne. I am sure Bolt’s COG exhibits substantial vertical oscillation. Maybe his torso appears to oscillate less than the COG because as he lifts his leg his COG moves relative to his iliac crest. It is the oscillation of the COG that requires external work.

      However, it should be noted that the reason why high cadence is desirable is that this reduces airborne time per step. At constant peak vGRF, the airborne time per Km is independent of cadence, but it requires less work to do two small hops than one large hop. But as we have discussed before, there is a limt to what can be gained by increasing cadence

      • Klas Says:

        There is obviously vertical oscillation of the COG. My point is that it is all in the range of motion of the limbs. With that range of motion, which is a consequence of speed, there is no room for a longer time on stance.

        Weyands results do not show that a sprinter is more efficient with a higher vGRF. They show that a high vGRF is necessary at high speed.

        Bolt is pushing off as little as possible for his speed. If he was pushing off more, his torso would oscillate like it does for most runners.

    • canute1 Says:

      Klas,
      I am not sure what you mean by range of motion. Do you mean range of motion of limbs relative to the COG or something else?

      I believe it is misleading to focus on the vertical oscillation of the torso when estimating the push off. The push is required to elevate the whole body and for the purpose of estimating the work that must be done, the whole body can be represented by the COG. Thus, the key issue is the vertical oscillation of the COG.

      Bolt has a somewhat smaller vertical oscillation of his COG and lower peak vGRF than he would have with a lower cadence, though in fact, his cadence) is not especially high for a sprinter, and the vertical oscilation of his COG is not trivial. In the world championship in Berlin in 2009 his cadence was 257 steps/min while Tyson Gay had a cadence of 187 in the same race.

      From examination of the timing of foot-fall and lift off from stance during the race in Berlin, and assuming that the time course of vGRF while on stance is approximately sinusiodal (as is typical of a forefoot runner), I estimate that Bolt’s peak vGRF was approximately 3.6 times his body weight. In fact during the final 25 millisec before lift-off he exerts relatively little pressure on the ground so my estimate of the peak is probably an underestimate. A peak vGRF of 3.6 times body weight is not massive but I consider it to be a fairly strong push. The sprinter whose data is shown in fig 2 of Weyand’s paper in Journal of Applied Physiology in 2001, achieves a mean push while on stance of 2.15 times body weight at a peak speed of 9.5 m/sec, and a peak push of approximately 3.3 times body weight.

      It is true that Weyand’s result show that a strong push is required for high speed, and this does not prove that a high push is required for efficiency, as fuel efficiency is not crucial for a sprinter. However, efficient use of power is crucial because it is probable that a sprinter is employing almost all the leg muscle power that he/she can muster, I suspect that Bolt is very efficient.

      • Klas Says:

        I have not implied that Bolt is not pushing off a lot. Quite the opposite – that it is necessary.

        And I have not implied that he is pushing off less than anyone else. Since he is the fastest one around, he may well push off more than anyone, at least as much as his competitors. I’m also not implying that he is not pushing off as much as he can. That ability is probably the most limiting factor of top speed.

        I’m sure he is efficient in many ways, but the short time on stance in relation to his cadence seems to be a necessity rather than a nice to have.

        The range of motion is how the limbs are moving. I think it is best to relate that to their origin, e.g. the hip when we talk about the legs. I will try to explain how I see it in more detail.

        When the stance leg and hip is fully extended behind the body, due to speed, the swing knee is lifted high up in order for the legs to balance. Both combine to a high range of motion, legs wide apart. The swing knee and foot is then high above the ground at take-off. This requires a long air time to get the foot down to the ground. The leg is a pendulum, so it must swing back when it swings down. When the foot hits the ground, it is close to the body simply due to how the leg must move with that cadence and speed. Looking at him in slow motion or frame by frame, I don’t see how he could possibly land further ahead of the body, at that cadence.

        The only vertical effect of his (strong) push off is to raise the knee and the arms. This is something he must do in order to efficiently counter-rotate the limbs, due to the speed. If he was pushing off more, e.g. to further reduce time on stance, the torso would rise as well.

      • Klas Says:

        Another way to explain the same thing. It is relevant to compare with a slow runner who has a very long tiime on stance but a relatively high cadence, like Ken Bob in the video that Robert linked in a comment on January 23 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Cet-15ygEFw)

        There is not much difference in where they put the foot down in relation to the body. The difference is the time it takes until the foot is under the body, and that is purely a consequence of the momentum of the body. The short time on stance is a consequence of speed. And the high vGRF is a requirement for the short time on stance.

    • canute1 Says:

      Klas,

      As far as I can see we agree about what happens at high speed: namely there is a high cadence, strong push and short time on stance. I cannot identify with certainty where we disagree, or even if we disagree in any details that matter. We do differ in the way we describe the links between the four variables, speed, time on stance, push and cadence.

      You state that high speed causes short time on stance which in turn leads to a strong push.

      Bolt believes that a strong push enables him to maintain a high speed. He trains in a way that develops and maintains the power in his leg muscles, and when he is racing, he consciously focuses on pushing.

      I also believe that a strong push makes it possible to maintain a high speed, and I believe it is helpful to train to increase leg muscle power. As an elderly person who has lost muscle power, I regard it is especially important to work on recovering as much of that power as I can. However, I do think that it is unhelpful to focus on producing a strong push while racing unless one has the ability to get off stance quickly. I find that it works better to direct my conscious attention on getting off stance quickly.

      This raises the question of whether or not it is helpful to train so as to improve one’s ability to get off stance quickly. I believe it is worthwhile. That was one of the main conclusions I drew in my post.
      Weyand’s data shows that there is no appreciable difference between fast sprinters and slow sprinters in the time it takes to reposition their legs at peak speed, but that fast sprinters spend less time on the ground. You imply that this is simply a consequence of their faster speed. I think it is worthwhile making sure that I can react quickly enough to get off the ground fast enough. While having enough muscle power is essential, I also believe that skilful timing of muscle recruitment and capture of elastic energy helps.

      • Klas Says:

        I have explicitly stated all along that a strong push enables Bolt to maintain a high speed. We agree about that. He is obviously aware of that.

        You implied that he does it in order to be efficient. I have argued that he does it because it is necessary at his speed.

        His body moves so fast that he cannot possibly have longer time on stance at his cadence. I don’t think he tries to get the foot off the ground. He needs maximum forward propulsion to compensate for air resistance and braking.

        I you want to sprint as fast as you can, you should train to push off as much as you can during the constant speed part of the race. (BTW, a Pose runner pushes like that too in sprint, instinctively. At maximum speed, pushing off as little as possible is the same as pushing off as much as possible.)

        If you want to compete at longer distances, you may well benefit from the strength, but I think it will be inefficient to try to push off as much as you can.

        I suspect that the most efficient is to push off only as much as what is dicated by the speed and cadence. Even at 4m/s speed, we need a much stronger push than at jogging pace. But much less than we need at sprint top speed.

        I’m not sure there would be a difference compared to your calculations of what is mechanically optimal. If there is, then I suspect that is explained by muscles being less efficient at high force.

      • canute1 Says:

        Klas,
        Whether or not Bolt consciously thinks about getting of stance quickly, this is a consequence of his strong conscious push. Getting off stance quickly minimises braking. Braking only arises because we are forced to spend time with the foot stationary on the ground during stance.

      • Klas Says:

        I totally agree of course.

  4. Ewen Says:

    I’d have to agree with the coaches on Huntley’s blog. Having the shortest time on stance isn’t going to make a runner the fastest over 100 metres. It seems obvious to me that there needs to be force generated against the ground — a small force will result in a shorter stride than a large force. Sprinters produce a large force and also have a fast cadence. If a runner has a short time on stance but doesn’t produce any force against the ground (instead, allowing ‘gravity’ to propell them forward) then they’ll have a short stride and run slower than the runner who produces more force against the ground.

    I’d think that fast reactions are a requirement for sprinting, and the speed of our reactions is something we’re born with, is it not? How much are our reactions ‘trainable’ and what’s the difference between having fast reactions and a high proportion of fast twitch muscle fibres?

    • canute1 Says:

      Ewen,

      I agree that quick reaction time is something a sprinter is born with. However, I am also aware that I have lost a lot of speed with age. In part this is due to loss of strength – especially type 2 (fast twitch fibres), but loss of elasticity and body awareness and slowing of reaction time might be part of the problem.

      Although I am not too concerned about type 2B (anaerobic fibres), I do want to strengthen my type 2A (aerobic fast twitch) fibres because I think they contribute usefully at all distances from 400m to marathon. Hill running is probably the best way to do this. I also want to do what I can to improve body awareness, reaction time and elasticity. I hope that drills such as Change of Stance help with this.

      You raise an interesting question about the relationship between reaction time and proportion of fast twitch fibres. I think that reaction time is due to a combination of the speed of processing in the nervous system and the speed of muscle contraction. Fast twitch fibres will produce a rapid muscle contraction. So maybe increasing the proportion of fast twitch fibres will promote faster reaction.

      Provided one has the strength, a short time on stance and strong push are closely coupled. Short time on stance is in itself important for speed because it minimises braking.

  5. Ricksrunning for freedom Says:

    Pose is a scam, a way to make money and brain wash anyone who unfortunately visits their website.
    Well thats my view after trying it!
    running is a natural form of motion, involving stretch reflex actions of the musles.
    Most important thing is good posture, then everything will flow :0]
    Cheers Rick

    • jhuff Says:

      Rick, this may surprise you but pose also recommends to get posture right and the rest will flow :-) which part of pose did you think was a scam?

    • canute1 Says:

      Rick
      It is good to hear from you again. I am pleased to hear that you are runing again.

      Jeremy,
      I think Pose advocates several good aspects of running style, including good posture, but the theory of Pose is based on unsound physics. The supposed ‘fall’ under the influence of gravity after the ‘pose’ at mid-stance simply does not occur. ‘Pose, fall, pull’ is more like a religious mantra than a realistic description of running mechanics. However, I find the peculiarities of Pose physics more amusing than annoying. The aspect of Pose that really does annoy me is the tendency for Pose coaches to under estimate the risks of Pose.

      • jhuff Says:

        Canute,

        I guess we will just have to agree to disagree in regards to the SOUND ness of the physics of pose. That is at the crux of the problems you have with it and the reason you will never fully benefit from it as a system for improving your movement. What I find fascinating is that you still hold to some of its aspects such as the Change of support drill even though you don’t except the complete system. Seems like you’d be better off just following a complete power model such as espoused by many others. As for the risk of Pose imposes on runners. Hmm….well it is a system for perfecting the running movement. Kinda silly to say it is going to be dangerous in and of itself. Of course there is risk of injury running and that should be known and aware by anyone who participates in the activity. As always fascinating to see your mind written in text. Good luck in your running regardless of how you choose to practice it.

      • jhuff Says:

        BTW, I need not look any further than my own running to know that the system of pose works. The only issue I have is trying to communicate that experience to others like yourself.

    • canute1 Says:

      Jeremy
      I respect the genuineness of your wish to help other runners, and in particular, I think that your video recording of Pose drills are excellent.

      On matters of running mechanics, we do not have to disagree. Although the methods of science do not provide the final answer to any question about how things in the world function, science does provide a method for improving our understanding of natural phenomena. Newtonian mechanics provides an extremely accurate description of the motion of objects of human scale. Pose theory is contrary to the principles of Newtonian mechanics. A very simple application of the laws of Newtonian mechanics based on observable force plate data demonstrates that the COG rises after mid-stance. Observation of runners provides a clear confirmation of this fact. Pose theory proposes that a fall under the influence of gravity after mid-stance provides propulsion. Nonetheless, even unsound theories sometimes produce useful insights and I do hope I have learned some useful things from Pose. However it would be foolish to base a ‘complete theory’ of running on a technique based on demonstrable error.

      With regard to the tendency of Pose coaches to under-estimate or ignore risks, I was recently dismayed when I logged on the Fetcheveryone efficient running thread after an absence of a week to discover that a runner who has recently changed his style to forefoot running had sought advice regarding an injury that included symptoms typical of an incipient or actual metatarsal stress fracture. In the subsequent 6 days following his query, several Pose coaches had posted on that thread, but no-one posted a response to the runner seeking advice about his injury. Metatarsal stress fracture is a risk associated with a switch to forefoot running, as is illustrated by the case of at least one well known Pose coach and also the case of leading US distance runner, Dathan Ritzenhein. (At least his coach, Alberto Salazar had the integrity to admit that the change of style was a likely cause). While it is most unwise to make a clinical diagnosis on the basis of queries posted on internet discussion threads (though Pose coaches are often willing to do this when they consider the injury is due to techniques other than Pose) I considered it bad that none of the Pose coaches had even advised the injured runner to seek a professional evaluation of the injury if the pain persisted.

      • jhuff Says:

        Canute,

        Yes as you see it. As I and others see it pose is not contrary to physics.

      • jhuff Says:

        Also I don’t agree that switching to a ball of the foot weight as a higher risk of stress fractures. Imo it poses the least risk of all possible running related injuries. Of course improper mal of the foot landing is dangerous and puts a runner at greater risk than the ideal.

    • canute1 Says:

      Jeremy

      Your claim that Pose presents the least risk of all possible running-related injuries indeed confirms my point that Pose coaches tend to minimize the risks.of Pose.

      Even the Capetown study, which reported less stress around the knee joint with Pose compared with heel striking, also revealed greater stress around the ankle with Pose. This is supported by many reports of Achilles and calf injury. Subsequently, at least in the UK, many Pose coaches have modified their advice regarding posture of the foot during stance, and some will acknowledge this in private, but publicly (ie on internet forums) deny that the illustrations inDr Romanov’s book, ‘Pose Method of Running’ are misleading.

      Each running style has its own risks. Many of the things we do involve balance between risk and benefit. I consider that it is sensible to weigh up the balance of risks and benefits and do what one reasonably can to minimise the risks.

      • jhuff Says:

        Canute, My stance is not one of de-emphasing risk. I simply believe you are placing extra caution where it is not needed. I advise plenty of caution to all of the individuals I work with for their running. Pose is the ideal. When accomplished as one runs there will be no injury.

      • jhuff Says:

        ….no overuse running related injury that is.

      • Simon Says:

        jhuff,

        I don’t think there is any sound basis to say perfect technique will eliminate overuse injury.
        Whilst technique is no doubt one part of a runner’s overall injury resistance, there are lots of other factors such as recovery strategy, training intensity, training volume, genetic makeup etc.
        To put another way, even with perfect technique, a runner can still reach their overuse threshold by doing too much. Good technique may allow some runners to train more is about as much as can reasonably be said.

    • canute1 Says:

      Jeremy,

      I consider that one of the good things about the way Pose is practised is that is strong emphasis on drills and on building up training volume cautiously. By virtue of its avoidance of focus on exerting a strong conscious push on the ground, it is probably a relatively safe technique, at least for recreational runners. For aspiring elite athletes I think it is both more effective and safer to be aware of the magnitude of the push that is inevitable when time on stance is short.

      • jhuff Says:

        Simon, in my opinion overuse injuries always indicates a technique failure of some magnitude. Indeed we can injure ourselves in a variety of ways but if/when we maintain proper technique we should only be slowed by energy failure or physical fatigue which keeps us from maintaining proper technique. In either case we should stop our running at that point to avoid injury.

      • Simon Says:

        Jeremy,

        We are made from weaker stuff than metal, and even metal will fatigue and break when lightly stressed in a seemingly unharmful manner if stressed repeatedly for long enough. Everything can be ‘overused’.

        Technique can play to a runners strengths by loading the strongest parts of the body and sparing the weaker parts as much as possible, but that alone is not enough to eliminate overuse issues, it will just raise the bar in the best cases.

        In the worst cases, changing running technique will load bodily structures that runners have instinctively avoided loading and in these cases an ‘improved’ technique can do more harm than good.

    • canute1 Says:

      Jeremy,
      Fatigue often leads to a deterioration in technique. In principle, we should decrease the training load when we are over-tired etc, but in practice, this approach may fail to protect us. First, as I think Simon implies, even ‘proper technique’ results in repeated stresses on the musculo-skeletal system, and repeated small stresses can produce stress fracture.

      Secondly, we do not always get advance warning that an over-use injury is about to occur. At least in the case of metal fatigue, it is well known that the build up of microscopic evidence of strain can be very difficult to detect. There is no clear evidence that we always receive warning that a bone is near to stress fracture, though there is little doubt that is some cases incipient fracture does produce discomfort or pain, so it is well to be aware of the risks.

      Thirdly, athletes who are striving to achieve peak performance almost certainly have to push themselves to the point where they experience some aches and pains. So deciding when to take things easily is difficult. Again, knowledge of the risks can be helpful, but it is still far from easy.

      • jhuff Says:

        Simon,

        I understand your point, yes there is going to be failure of our structure in extreme situations but I would never look to blame technique(personally). I would blame my inability to have proper perception and awareness during my activity. Just as when I sit in a chair I trust it will support my body. If it were to break I would not question the design if the structure.

  6. Robert Osfield Says:

    Usain Bolt running form isn’t Pose Method. Some very basic observations:

    1) his torso is close to upright once he hits top speed,
    no leaning from the ankles, practically no leaning at all.

    2) his actively pushing off even at top speed, he does so
    because it’s the most efficiency time to generate horizontal
    forces required to overcome aerodynamic drag

    It makes no sense for a sprinter to pull the leg off the ground, and little sense to keep pulling because the leg folds up naturally due to the momentum of the foot vs the body and very rapidly achieves maximum flexion where the foot comes very close to buttocks. If you are to add extra force in pulling upwards with the hamstrings you’ll need to then generate extra force in breaking the lower to stop it from over flexing the knee. Do you want two sets of muscle activation done in very quick succession or no activation required? What’s harder on the muscles, what uses more energy and what’s harder to learn?

    It doesn’t take much to realize that not actively pulling the put up will be most efficiency and easiest to learn to do efficiently. The best way to get a quick pick up of the foot is to actively push off and drive the knee forward and create a strong hip flexion in one action, once the foot leaves the ground the active phase finishes and the far more passive phase starts, elastic recoil of hip flexion and momentum both will pull the lower knee forward and the foot up, while at the same time the lower leg uncurls. If you do use a passive mechanism then you’ll be more relaxed… just so happens that Usain and other great athletes are known for running in an outwardly relaxed manner, co-incidence, I very much doubt.

    The claims that Usain Bolt runs like Pose Method is really just snake oils salesman talk and really shouldn’t be viewed with the contempt it deserves.

    For a slow recreational distance runner things are a bit different, I do wonder if actively lifting the foot with the hamstrings after toe off might be beneficial under reducing the moment of inertial of the leg to help with quick recovery of the leg. I’m thinking of the jogger/foot shuffler that barely lifts the foot off the ground during leg recovery rather than elite distance runners.

    • Simon Says:

      Robert,

      I agree Usain Bolt is not ‘running Pose’, but I think you have misunderstood some of the concepts in Pose.

      1) The lean is the angle from support point to GCM at midstance.He is leaning, have a close look http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4QrlPmK4B94
      And if he wasn’t leaning, wind resistance would put him on his back! I’m not saying it makes him a ‘Pose runner’, but every sprinter will have to lean to balance out wind resistance.

      2) What do you mean by actively pushing off? That is usually a term for pushing at terminal stance.
      You may notice that Bolt’s knee does not fully extend at terminal stance and it immediately flexes on leaving the ground – if he was muscling away with his quads at terminal stance I would expect the knee to remain fixed for a moment as muscles do not immediately switch off and so momentum induced folding would be delayed.

      The Pose pull does not say ‘keep pulling up to the butt’ only ‘pull (the foot) enough to break ground contact’, so your comments about foot recovery are not really relevant to the Pose pull. It is a mechanism to prevent a straight trailing leg, a mechanism to begin folding the leg as soon as it is finished on stance and so keep range of motion of the limbs to a minimum.
      Whilst the Pose pull is not a concept I particularly subscribe to, I don’t think your particular criticisms are valid.

      I also don’t subscribe to active toe-off and knee driving – classic ways to get yourself onto the injury bench, good luck with that!

      • Robert Osfield Says:

        > 1) The lean is the angle from support point to GCM at
        > midstance.He is leaning, have a close look
        > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4QrlPmK4B94
        > And if he wasn’t leaning, wind resistance would put him on
        > his back!

        Measuring lean relative to the moving point is neither practical nor informative. The legs are constantly in motion so I think it’s rather dubious to describe them as leaning – does a clocks hand lean when they aren’t pointing vertical? It doesn’t really make much sense to describe a dynamic system as having lean.

        Lean in any normal meaning of the word relates to a constant angle rather an moving quantity. The upper body is far more static in comparison and something you can look at lean. Here for perfect balance of the upper body you’ll want a small lean, you can however sprint quite happily with a completely vertical torso, go look at Michael Johnson.

        Now on stance the position of the hips (~Centre Of Mass) relative feet is an interesting one, it starts off with the foot slightly infront, progressing to underneath then at mid stance slightly behind the COM, then to the foot substantially behind the COM at toe off. Do pick any one of these points as one with the definitive lean? Mid-stance is probably the most plausible candidate, and I would always expect it to be slightly after of the COM to enable to the forces of drag to be balanced out without requiring a highly asymmetric GRF.

        One thing you see all the time in literature on Pose and Chi Running is pictures of runners with the lean, but what is really captured is runner late in stance. It’s all part of the smoke and mirrors.

        > 2) What do you mean by actively pushing off? That is
        > usually a term for pushing at terminal stance.
        > You may notice that Bolt’s knee does not fully extend at
        > terminal stance and it immediately flexes on leaving the
        > ground – if he was muscling away with his quads at terminal
        > stance I would expect the knee to remain fixed for a
        > moment as muscles do not immediately switch off and so
        > momentum induced folding would be delayed.

        Humans push off with their feet using their calf muscles as this are most appropriately aligned structures to do this job.

        The qauds can’t provide this push off as the geometry of the near straight leg results in very little extension per unit rotation, and any significant activation of the quads at this point will result in an inbalance in moments generated and the external forces such that the knee would lock forward likely causing injury. To prevent both inefficiency and injury the quads cease being active late in stance – they begin to relax and the calves provide the final push off instead.

        The quads deactivating late in stance is also a precursor to the leg folding up neatly, if the quads are kept active too long the leg will straight too much and slow the recovery of the leg.

        So very clearly what I mean by pushing off is pusing off with the calves. I kinda thought this would be obvious.

        Robert.

        The quads

        and activating them

    • jhuff Says:

      Robert,

      Does indeed meet the Pose Standards. Does he use the teaching method to accomplish it no he does not. End of story.

  7. Simon Says:

    Robert,

    I think you need to remember that Pose is primarily a teaching method to change student’s running form rather than a description of what running is. The lean is something you can feel on a run and so is a useful term. The Pose Lean has a special meaning as does much in Pose. I’m not a fan of the special language either, but there it is.

    Michael Johnson had a back condition as you may know, which is the reason for his quirky upright style. He still ‘Pose Leans’ at midstance, his straight back makes his leaning alignment is slightly off from many runners who instead have straight linkage from foot to hip to shoulder.

    I disagree with your smoke and mirrors comment – I’ve spent a long time on running forums and the midstance lean is always what has been shown. Chi may be slightly different as there key position is a little more in the first half of stance than midstance. I have not seen any late stance pictures that claim to show a lean unless they are talking about the angle at a later part of stance for other reasons than the general concept of the lean.

    I agree that the quads are nearly always silent in late stance in the majority of EMGs I’ve seen.
    Regarding pushing off in general, it is of course a critical part of running.
    Actively pushing off with the calves sounds like an entirely different thing though. I can’t really comment on it until I know exactly what you mean by it. Where in the gait cycle are you suggesting this active pushing off with the calves should occur? And by active, I take it you mean a focused conscious effort?

    • Robert Osfield Says:

      > I think you need to remember that Pose is primarily a teaching
      > method to change student’s running form rather than a description
      > of what running is. The lean is something you can feel on a run
      > and so is a useful term. The Pose Lean has a special meaning as
      >does much in Pose. I’m not a fan of the special language either,
      > but there it is.

      Not only is lean theory which is part of Pose fault from a physics perspective, teaching lean is bad practice as it teaches the wrong skills.

      What should always be taught in fine tuning your balance. Only when you are balanced will the body be relaxed and most efficient.

      We actually learn balance and lean as toddlers when we first learn to walk and run. You don’t need to re-teach lean as you already have everything you need inbuilt, trying to re-teach interferes with this and one can easily loose the well balanced. What can help is awareness of balance and the different forces at work on the body as you shift your balance.

      As we run we encounter different conditions – we run at different paces, in different winds, accelerating, slowing down, uphill, downhill, road bends, each of these require a different amount of lean to remain balanced. If you improve your balance then for all these different conditions you’ll have the optimum lean and best efficiency.

      If you teach someone to ride a bike you teach them to balance, you don’t team them to lean. Once they know how to balance leaning the bike into a bend comes naturally as does straightening up. Balance is the skill your teach and learn, lean is just something that happens as a by product.

      > Michael Johnson had a back condition as you may know, which is > the reason for his quirky upright style.

      He’s still one the greatest sprinters in history, clearly shows that up upright torso is no hinderance to running ability even at the fastest speeds that humans have ever attained.

      This is an important point, as looking at the physics when running at a steady state, one would expect the lean required to be at the greatest at the greatest speeds.

      > He still ‘Pose Leans’ at
      > midstance,

      Given the phyiscs of running we all have to provide propulsion to overcome drag by shifting mid-stance after of COM. There isn’t a separate “Pose Lean” that some runners attain, all runners do it whether their training or not, whether they are elite or just a toddler taking their few steps.

      “Pose Lean” isn’t something distinct in form, it’s part of the smoke and mirrors required to set up the idea that one can use gravity for propulsion.

      > his straight back makes his leaning alignment is
      > slightly off from many runners who instead have straight linkage
      > from foot to hip to shoulder.

      Nobody should ever have a straight linkage from foot to hip to shoulder. The knee should always be bent when running, and when at toe off the hips for flex and the rear leg reach out while the torso remains near vertical.

      > Where in the gait cycle are you suggesting this active pushing
      > off with the calves should occur? And by active, I take it you
      > mean a focused conscious effort?

      I can’t believe you even asking this. We have two main calf muscles, the Soleuls which is dominated by slow twitch fibres and is active on landing, mid stance when the knee is bent, and then as the leg straightens the Gastrocnemius activates to provide the late stance push as we get to toe off. Gastrocnemius has more fast twitch fibers so is good for quickly shortening as required as the body moves forwards and upwards.

      When running efficiently and relaxed none of the muscle activation will be conscious, it will happen all automatically. The fact that it’s not a conscious action doesn’t mean it’s not active, just that you don’t have to think consciously about pushing off.

      The conscious part of brain is not all equipped for the rapid and fine control of muscle activation and de-activation. You might consciously work on a new form, but once you’re recalibrated your muscle memory to work with the new form it’ll just happen automatically.

  8. Simon Says:

    The lean is indeed dubiously justified in Pose physics, I think we agree there. Should the lean be taught? Yes, if someone is not doing it properly! There is no global right or wrong, teaching depends on the student.
    We all learn to walk and run with varying degrees of success. Youngsters are sometimes put forwards as example of perfect movement, yet the sports days I watch show the complete spectrum of the gifted to the awkward and clumsy.
    Some people simply do not learn very well by themselves for whatever reason. These people can probably benefit from external help. To say everyone has already learnt good balance is simply not true.

    The fact that all runners ‘Pose lean’ is not so much smoke and mirrors as an observation of real life that some believe fits the Pose theory of movement. Equally, it fits the pogo-stick theory of movement which it seems you can I subscribe to.

    You misunderstood my point about alignment. The alignment is from foot to hip to shoulder – if you draw a line through those points it is straight in most elite runners. I did not mean that every part of the body should exist along the line, just the key points I mentioned – straight linkage of points, not limbs!

    Johnson was indeed great. You can’t really say it was because of or despite his back though.There are obviously lots of variables that go into greatness so I think that was a bit of a silly point you made.

    I agree that running efficiently will have no conscious activation of muscles, thanks for clarifying what you meant by ‘active’.
    In running circles, active often means deliberate and forced so it was worth me checking what you meant..

    • Robert Osfield Says:

      > The lean is indeed dubiously justified in Pose physics, I think we
      > agree there. Should the lean be taught? Yes, if someone is not
      > doing it properly!

      The problem to is solve is posture and balance not lean. Solve posture and balance and they will have perfect lean for any conditions they come across.

      Have a think about teaching lean. You can’t definitively measure the lean of runner on a photo let alone measure the lean of yourself when you are running. Could you even tell me exactly what lean I have or what lean I should have? Should I lean 2 degrees? Four degrees? What about different speeds, or tailwind or headwinds…

      You might be able to say ohh you lean too far forward, or too much backwards if I have a serious posture problem. But you have to have a pretty serious problem to be able to easily spot. Even then how can the runner themselves check themselves?

      If you can’t measure something how can you tell you’ve got it right?

      It’s just not practical.

      However, if you want to teach good posture and balance then it’s much easier to measure and keep in check. We can teach good posture whilst standing, and we can learn the feel of the activation of the sholders, upper and lower back and stomach, hps, gluts and leg muscles. When we are in good posture and well balanced and we can tell just from the internal messages from our body, we don’t need any external check once we’ve fine tuned the skill.

      Once you have the basic posture and skill of balance developed when standing we can use that awareness of bodies when we run. If we achieve that feeling of balance will automatically have the perfect amount of lean not matter what the outside conditions are.

      > You misunderstood my point about alignment. The alignment is
      > from foot to hip to shoulder – if you draw a line through those
      > points it is straight in most elite runners. I did not mean that every
      > part of the body should exist along the line, just the key points I
      > mentioned – straight linkage of points, not limbs!

      I think you mis-understand that usefulness of these “posture line” chosen are near arbitrary points in the running gait.

      > Johnson was indeed great. You can’t really say it was because of
      > or despite his back though.There are obviously lots of variables
      > that go into greatness so I think that was a bit of a silly point you
      > made.

      Indeed there are lots of variables, but if you are going to at the pinnacle of human sprinting you can’t carry a big disadvantage and still achieve greatness. You have to get all the import critical parts right to be the one of the best in history. Clearly for Micheal Johnson his upright posture is not in any way a critical problem.

      Go look at Usain Bolt and you’ll see if he has a very upright torso when at top speed, it’s as vertical as Michael’s but it’s not far off.

      Two of the fastest runners ever in history run with very upright torso’s.

      I think perhaps it’s just that you are struggling to let go of the fact that lean is in hardly relevant at all to sprinting, and if isn’t then for lower speeds it has to be even less important. This might be a tough pill to swollow if you’ve been reading lots of stuff from Pose advocates and alike but the evidence is there right in front of you, you just need some time to digest it.

      • jhuff Says:

        Rick,

        You seem like a nice guy but you definitely do not understand pose method. Perhaps one day you can remove the chip on your shoulder and actually try to understand it at the very least. You don’t have to are with it of course but it is very obvious to me that you have no clue about what pose recommends.

      • jhuff Says:

        Rick, here is a pic of bolt in his running pose: http://db.tt/ZFljSS99 , I will get some more for you later as I have time so you can see how he runs pose just fine :-)

    • canute1 Says:

      Jeremy,

      There are several features of Pose that are also features of efficient running. Three of these features are: high cadence, short time on stance, and alignment of point of support, hip and shoulder at mid-stance. However, if a runner achieves any or all of these features of efficient running, that does not justify the conclusion that they run Pose style. As you say. Pose is ‘a complete system’. This system includes a belief in a fall after mid-stance that encourages a minimal conscious push. Bolt does not appear to believe in this.

      Bolt achieves high cadence, short time on stance and a fairly good alignment (though interesting in this particular picture, to my eye, his hip is a little behind the line you have drawn from BOF to shoulder.) I also try to achieve all three of these features of efficient running. However that does not mean that either Bolt or myself run Pose style.

      • jhuff Says:

        Canute, specifically yes he does meet the “pose standard”. It is irrelevant whether or not he uses the method or not. Any runner can be evaluated via the pose standard evaluation.

      • canute1 Says:

        Jeremy,

        Observing that he meets ‘Pose standard’ on one aspect of Pose does not mean he ‘runs Pose just fine’ as you claimed. As Simon noted in the first comment on this post, the tendency of Pose disciples to claim that successful athletes run Pose style because some features of their running resemble some features of Pose is silly. To do so when there is strong evidence that the athlete rejects central tenets of Pose is verging on dishonest.

        I should re-iterate that I do not doubt your personal sincerity. I regard you more as a victim of Pose than a perpetrator, although you do present yourself as a satisfied victim.

      • jhuff Says:

        Canute, I will say it again. Usain bolt does meet the “pose standard” as he runs. By his own words he does not use the method. The “pose standard” is an objective evaluation that can be performed on any runner regardless of the method that they use to achieve their running technique.

      • jhuff Says:

        Canute, as you often do….you are creating a conflict when clearly one does not exist.

      • Robert Osfield Says:

        jhuff wrote:

        “Canute, I will say it again. Usain bolt does meet the “pose standard” as he runs. By his own words he does not use the method. The “pose standard” is an objective evaluation that can be performed on any runner regardless of the method that they use to achieve their running technique.”

        Could you please provide a reference to the definition of the “pose standard”, this is the first step before any can make independent and object analysis.

        Also the your objective suggestion is rather hard to believe. Is Pose Method not based on the notion that the runners falls after mid-stance using gravity for propulsion rather than pushing off?

        It’s pretty easy to see that Usian centre of mass is rising after mid-stance so fails on this aspect. In fact all runners no matter what form they have always rise after mid-stance, so in reality no one can, has ever, or ever will pass this aspect of Pose Method as it’s this aspect is physically impossible without falling over into the ground.

        Unless you want to re-define the meaning of fall, but given that fall has a pretty well established meaning in the English language and Science it’s kinda odd to just ignore this meaning. It’s hard to accept one is being objective by rewriting the English language to get reality to fit with the model behind “Pose Method”.

        There is also the fact that one can’t use Gravity for propulsion when running on the level at a steady state. It is well established Scientfic fact that one can’t use Gravity for propulsion without loosing net height, this was established by Newton in the 1600′s. Again we have to re-define the laws of physics for “Pose Method” theory to actually work. Once more it’s hard to accept the objectiveness of this.

        Finally lets look at the toe off. Usian’s foot is more plantar flexed at toe off than he is on landing, this is important point. If one has perfect elastic recoil and applies no additional force one would expect the amount of plantar flexion to be similar. In the real world no one has perfect elastic recoil so for no push off we would see less plantar flexion of the foot on toe than on landing. This is *opposite* to what we see with Usain. Not only is he pushing off to overcome the imperfect recoil but his pushing beyond the plantar flexion on landing. Usian *has* to be pushing off.

        To be able to fit Usain’s form to “Pose Method” aspect of lifting the foot he shouldn’t be pushing off from the balls of his feet, but the evidence before us suggest he is. To claim that Usain is not pushing off given the evidence requires another step rewriting facts to fit with the theory.

        Your claim that Usian is fits to “Pose Method” is wholly not objective, it fails on several counts. The fact is if we are to try and objectively fit “Pose Method” to the real-world we come up having to rewrite the laws of physics and basic real-world observations. No one has ever or will ever actually run with a “Pose Method”, it a mythical running form. If Usain fits it, then we might as well all believe in Unicorns.

  9. Simon Says:

    Posture and balance are just another way of saying ‘lean’, so your fixing of posture and balance would of course work. That description is also preferable to ‘lean’. But Pose calls it ‘lean’, and that’s not going to change just because you and I would prefer better language. Dr Romanov’s first language is Russian – for those looking for precision in English terminology, Pose is never going to work.

    Interestingly, I understand Bolt too has sclerosis in his back. But the point of logic remains that an upright torso is just one variable amongst many and so is not conclusive. There is no way of telling the other advantages the great runners have so no way of knowing how big a factor that element of posture is, or even if it is help, hindrance or neutral.
    You assume that a large hindrance would prevent someone from being a world beater, but without knowing and measuring all the variables, that is just a judgement call – you are assuming they do not both posses some other large advantage or a collection of smaller advantages that overcome the large hindrance.
    It seems people often assume that elite sprinters have a very similar biological makeup despite the obvious differences in build, height, posture etc.
    I have often seen similar cases argued where 2 elite runners are compared and the winner of the 2 is assumed to have the better form and so is used to argue points about good form. It might be the case, and equally it might not.

    I do take time to digest arguments, reflect and update my opinion, that is true. But I have no attachment to the concept of the lean. I am familiar with it and don’t mind it being used in the circles that understand it. I’ve seen it used to good effect and I’ve seen it confuse the heck out of people – it is what it is.

  10. Simon Says:

    Robert,

    As Jeremy is not around, I’ll expand on a couple of those points from you 8:25 post.

    The ‘fall’ in Pose is a special meaning word, as you might have guessed. It basically just means that the foot is behind your centre of mass and that you are ‘falling’ forwards. It makes no real sense in strict physical terms but is supposed to help people stop pushing off too much and hence keep vertical oscillation to a minimum. It’s surprisingly effective in some cases.

    The Pose standard is basically any runner who spends 33ms (1 30fps video frame) or less on stance before midstance and 33ms or less on stance after midstance and before flight. Not surprisingly, most runners above a certain pace will be running to this standard. I don’t think the standard has enough parameters to say much about running form. I don’t really see any sense in applying it to non-Pose trained runners, maybe Jeremy can elaborate on why that is a good idea?

    I don’t think your comments about runners always rising after midstance is true in all cases. I seem to remember an accelerated running study that showed the centre of mass still decreasing beyond midstance for heavily accelerating runners. A small point, but one that you may want to consider. I’ll dig out the reference if you need to see it.

    • canute1 Says:

      Simon,

      Largely I agree with you. However, I think there is little doubt that when Dr Romanov originally developed Pose theory he believed there was a real fall. Although he uses words vaguely, Chapter 12 of Pose Method of Running, which is entitled ’The free falling concept’, includes sentences such as ‘the great runner is not impervious to gravity, instead he taps it as a readily available source of free energy.’ and ‘simply put superior running technique is the art of releasing the body to fall freely.’ As you say this make no sense physically, except when accelerating. However, In Dr Romanov’s book there is no suggestion that this is intended as imagery to encourage the runner to avoid excessive push against the ground.

      Nonetheless, for some people the illusion of the fall appears to work fairly well. But it does create a problem which I believe Dr Romanov grasped intuitively. It is inefficient to remain on stance for more than a very short time, and furthermore, a strong push is essential to get off stance quickly, so it is necessary to create an additional mental image to facilitate a rapid lift-off. This is the Pose pull. Again it makes little sense physically as a muscle action that shortens the distance between foot and torso cannot lift the COG. This would amount to lifting oneself by pulling on one’s bootstraps. As Robert points out, it is more plausible that the muscle action that completes the process of getting airborne is contraction of gastronemius. In Robert’s words, the Pose fall and pull is all smoke and mirrors.

      Just as I find the placebo effect in medical practices disconcerting because it entails deception, I find Pose disconcerting. However because, Pose, like the placebo effect, can be effective, I personally aim to develop a mental set that focuses purely on the image of getting off stance quickly without relying on self-delusion. I think this can work, at least well enough for a recreational runner. It avoids the risk of a mis-timed or excessive push. It might also encourage optimization of recovery of impact energy via elastic recoil.

      Nonetheless, whether one pushes consciously or not, a push must occur. There is a danger that the delusion of free gravitational energy will stunt the push. To counter this, the concept of Pose standard was developed. As I understood it when I attended the Pose course in Loughborough, a target of 66 ms total stance time was a gold standard, while the basic standard was 132 ms. As you point out, it is almost pointless to invoke the Pose standard for non-Pose athletes. They achieve a time much less than 132 ms when sprinting simply by pushing. Weyand’s faster sprinters spent about 90 ms on stance. While the concept of the Pose standard is useful for Pose practitioners, it can lead them to make silly claims about non-Pose runners achieving Pose standard..

      • jhuff Says:

        Canute,

        Pushing is what you think they are doing. Some of them are indeed pulling :-) the standard is objective actually and is I said is for any runner regardless of method they use. It does have the most value to offer for a user of the method because them he/she can understand what they should do for improvement.

      • jhuff Says:

        Canute, as usual you are forgetting that the pull is in conjunction with other external forces that assist the runner in the vertical and horizontal travel of the runner. My you are stubborn but I am very patient and I will stick with you to the end :-)

      • Simon Says:

        Canute,

        We agree on much but I think you underestimate the Pose pull. Whilst I am not particularly fond of it, it is worth consideration.

        As you know, a steady state runner at midstance has completely overcome all downwards momentum and so from this point only needs to push in the vertical enough for the small raise of the centre of mass which will in turn allow enough time for the runner to rearrange limbs in flight and prepare for the next stance phase.
        What we see novice runners do is extend the push into late stance which often causes them to gain more height than is necessary which goes hand in hand with a slower cadence and an overstride.
        The Pose pull counters over-pushing and helps the leg fold up for quicker recovery.
        So in a nutshell, the Pose pull can help students decrease vertical oscillation, increase cadence and decrease overall range of motion of the limbs, all of which are important factors for both efficient and performance running.

        It’s clearly not the only way to achieve this, but calling it ‘smoke and mirrors’ is a bit harsh!

      • Robert Osfield Says:

        “As you know, a steady state runner at midstance has completely overcome all downwards momentum and so from this point only needs to push in the vertical enough for the small raise of the centre of mass”

        Actually we need to generate just as much vertical force after mid-stance as before, it’s not at all a case of just a small vertical push after mid-stance. Go look at any vGRF graph for a runner. Runners who forefoot strike also tend have larger more vGRF after mid-stance then heel stikers.

        I would however agree that many runners generate too much vertical motion. Increasing cadence by reducing time in the air is the most effective way of reducing vertical oscillation. Curiously Pose Method stress the importance of short time on stance, but short time on stance creates more vertical motion than a runner with same cadence with a long time on stance. Go have a look at Canute’s results with looking at the effect of G loading/time on stance at a constant cadence to see how this is the case.

        I think it would be useful to understand the actual mechanics of different running gaits and how these effect the forces and efficiencies then look to see how Pose Method might fit within this, rather than using Pose Method as the base and working for there. There is so much pseudo science in Pose Method that you really have to avoid taking any of literally and treat them as purely cues that may or may not achieve improvements in running form.

      • Simon Says:

        Robert,

        Yes I deliberately phrased it that we but perhaps should have expanded a little.
        We do of course need to generate as much vertical force after midstance as before, but the second half of stance is assisted by release of soft tissue elasticity that was loaded in the first half of stance.
        So whilst the impulses are equal, the sources of the impulses are far from equal and so the runner’s ‘effort’ is less in the second half of stance.

    • canute1 Says:

      Jeremy,

      Thank you for your patience.
      At mid-stance the momentum of the runner has no upward component. What force generates the upward component that lifts the body off stance?

      • jhuff Says:

        Canute, gravitational torque plus pulling.

      • Robert Osfield Says:

        jhuff wrote:

        “Canute, gravitational torque plus pulling.”

        You clearly have no clue about the laws of physics or actually real world bio-mechanics. There are very serious flaws in the theory behind Pose Method, but you lack the understanding to see through these. Instead you just repeat them as if they are well established fact. They are in fact well established fiction. “Gravitonal torque and pulling” are pseudo scientific nonsense, you only highlight you lack of understanding by repeating them.

      • jhuff Says:

        ROBERT,

        Hi..lol..having used the pose method for over 7yrs now it surely must amaze you that I still run quite fast. Shocking considering the pseudo science and smoke and mirrors. Some things must just be unexplainable. You enjoy your running and all the knowledge you possess.

    • canute1 Says:

      Simon,
      Regarding your post at 9:23 am, yes the term ‘smoke and mirrors ‘ is a bit harsh, though perhaps Robert’s bluntness in choice of words was intended to force us to be realistic in our description of what is happening.
      A pull cannot elevate the COG. However, if the COG is already accelerating upwards as a result of a strong push, a pull might assist in breaking contact. The core issue is that a push is the prime source of the vertical component of momentum required for getting airborne, and this push must be substantial.
      I believe that the Pose concept of the pull minimises the tendency to push deliberately, and this can have several advantages for the recreational runner. Not only does it reduce the risk of a mis-timed or delayed push but it probably also encourages an action that maximises the capture of impact energy via elastic recoil. However I prefer mental imagery that does not underestimate the reality of the substantial upward push that is required for two reasons: firstly, it reduces the danger of under-estimating the risks associated with large vGRF; secondly, it is less likely to mislead people who really want to achieve their peak potential speed into exerting too little force.

      • Simon Says:

        Canute,

        I have not seen any coaching system that satisfactorily addresses the issue of vGRF production.

        BK has a stab at it, but I don’t think accelerating the foot into the ground is a safe way to generate vGRF and I don’t think Bolt and other elites are running in that way either.

        So what mental imagery should be used? To me it seems that the answer to that question depends on the runner – both their form errors and their psychology.
        Pose will work for some, Chi , BK, bespoke coaching etc for others. You want the method to link to the forces closely so Pose and Chi would not be good choices for you personally, but others do very well from placebos and new age pseudo science!

      • canute1 Says:

        Simon,
        I agree that for me personally, seeking the ‘placebo effect’ of Pose would not be a good choice. As I have pointed out on numerous occasions, I think Pose works quite well in practice for many recreational runners. However I have seen some suffer from injuries related to the running mechanics that Pose encourages. I also think that it is plausible that in the case of one well known Pose enthusiast, failing to push strongly enough might have contributed to his failure to achieve Olympic selection.

        I also agree that BK made a thoughtful attempt to address the question of how to generate the required vGRF, but I have always considered that the very strong emphasis on plyometrics in BK might be a bit risky for recreational runners.

      • jhuff Says:

        Canute,

        Lol..to the “placebo effect”. As for this mysterious pose enthusiast that I aM assuming you are refering to me?? That is funny also as I was unaware of pose during my push for the Olympics. Looking back perhaps the placebo effect would have been helpful :-)

      • Simon Says:

        Canute,

        I think you need to be careful when asserting that Pose mechanics have caused injury just as Pose needs to be careful when asserting it is ‘injury free’.

        Someone injuring their forefoot or achillies whilst running Pose might equally have hurt their knee or shin if they were running in their original style.

        I think volume and intensity are probably bigger causes of injury than style – runners seem to get injured doing too much speed work or when they are on a steep volume build.

      • jhuff Says:

        Canute/Robert,

        I may not be as smart as you guy’s when it comes to all the physics talk but I did enjoy a nice 5.66 mile run yesterday consisting of( 2mi@6:30mpm, followed by 10 x 200m@32sec, followed by 1mi@6:30mpm, then a .5mi cool down. Besides sharing your physics knowledge here what did you guy’s run yesterday??

      • Robert Osfield Says:

        Yesterday I ran 27 mile training run with 1200ft of ascent/descent in 4:03 minutes. Today I just did just over 3 mile recovery, my left hip flexor is a little sore but otherwise I’m in pretty good condition considering.

        I’m training to complete the Highland Fling 53 mile ultra at the end of April so my training is all geared towards this. Majority of my runs at entirely aerobic, and little hill sprints and tempo running in the mix to top things up.

      • jhuff Says:

        Robert,

        Sounds like a good long steady run. Good luck in your training and the race. I will be shooting for breaking 16-16:30min for 5km over the next two weekends.

      • canute Says:

        Simon

        I tried to be very careful in my choice of words regarding injury. I did not say Pose caused the injury. However the injuries I had in mind were the type that are more likely with aspects of mechanics proposed by Pose (eg forefoot landing) compared with some other styles. I agree it is often the case that other factors contribute. Furthermore I consider that for recreational runners Pose is probably safer than some other styles.

        To take a different case than those I had in mind, consider the case of Dathan Ritzenhein, who is not a Pose runner, but did suffer a metatarsal stress fracture after changing to forefoot striking. He had suffered previous stress fractures, possibly attributable in part to the hard surfaces of the trails in Boulder, Colorado, where he trained before he moved to Oregon to join the group coached by Alberto Salazar. Maybe he has a predisposition to stress fracture arising from several causes. I understand that Salazar discussed with Dathan the potential risks associated with changing his style, but Dathan decided that he wanted to be the best runner he could be, and therefore was prepared to take the risk. The initial consequence was another fracture. I hope that in the longer term, things work out well for him. I think the likelihood of a good outcome is increased by the fact that both he and his coach recognise the risks. In general I think it is important that coaches who advocate any form of running recognise the risks that might be associated with that style of running.

      • Simon Says:

        Canute,

        Yes I agree that the risks should be put forward by a coach or trainer to their athletes, especially if they are modifiying form.
        I don’t know how much of that goes on in Pose circles. I know the prevailing advice for recreational runners is to reduce volume to almost nil when changing to Pose and focus purely on short form runs and drills. Then the progression is based on how long adequate form can be held, runs being abandoned when it fails.
        The slightly flawed belief there is that good form cannot injure you. I would prefer to see more mention of conditioning new areas of the body to a new running style, especially for competitive runners who will want to push the training load.
        It can take years to recondition the body, so people should either evolve their running slowly or be prepared to start over and have a conservative build over a couple of years.
        I expect some Pose coaches would agree with that, though others will be more bullish.

  11. canute Says:

    Jeremy/Robert,

    I am afraid that in comparison with both of you, my run yesterday was a rather modest 8Km at along a riverside trail, enjoying the onset of spring weather.
    Jeremy, your speed is impressive. Good luck with your 5K over the next two weekends.

  12. raphael Says:

    Has Romonov, Brian McK or any other POSE coach ever hands-on trained and developed an elite sprinter (Olympic caliber) themselves? The debate of whether POSE theory, system, method or mantra is effective is null and void until their own viable product is presented. Until POSE coaches can produce a thoroughbred of their own to match the likes of Clyde Hart (Michael Johnson, Jeremy Wariner & Darold Williamson), Glen Mills (Usain Bolt & Yohan Blake), Dan Pfaff (Donovan Bailey, Bruny Surin), Tom Tellez (Carl Lewis, Mike Marsh, Joe DeLoach & Leroy Burrell), John Smith (Maurice Greene, Ato Boldin, Carmelita Jeter), Stephen francis (Asafa Powell), Loren Seagrave (Donovan Bailey, Gwen Torrence, Andre Cason) and the late Charlie Francis (Ben Johnson). For reference (other than the late Charlie Francis) have openly disputed the claims of Romonov as POSE being a legitimate method for developing sprinters. A common fallacy exists for POSE coaches and practitioners in believing that just because a method or technique has made you or your athletes faster doesn’t automatically qualify you or them as FAST. a recent POSE advocate and coach declared that he shaved :05 off of his 400M time which was quickly applauded as a good accomplishment. But his now current :65 quarter mile is WAY short of impressive for even an average sprinter; w/ the current world record at :43.18 and the US Oly Trials A & B cuts are set at (:45.3-:46).

    A teaching methodology debate falls short when the POSE “poster child” himself proclaims that his mentality to sprinting is completely different than what are the POSE mental cues.

    From a physiological and biomechanical standpoint, the major difference between the POSE method is the utilization of the hamstrings as a predominant knee flexor versus sprinters achieving powerful hip extension w/ the hamstrings, gluteal & TLF complexes. That is a major difference that should be addressed. As a side note: a knee or hip or ankle or any other joint doesn’t have to be fully locked out for it to be pushing. Extension is just movement opposite of flexion, regardless of angle. A knee can be extending even at a fully flexed angle. Have you ever seen a POSE runner being effective under load (bob sled, prowler, attacking a hurdle, triple jumping, accelerating)? Through the POSE method, the only way to run faster w/o pushing harder or pulling the round past you is to increase your turnover ration. In sprinting, that leaves you very vulnerable to fatigue unless you have the VO2 Max of Lance Armstrong. Because of his successes everyone tried to employ his extremely high cadence techniques. Then we all observed what happened to 99.99999% of the world’s population who aren’t as blessed as he was.

    The measurement of degree from the center mass to the ankle at toe-off should not be considered “lean” in any language.

    i’m in agreement w/ Mr. Robert Osfield about POSE being “smoke and mirrors” and failing miserably in being able to accurately address sound Newtonian principle. i would be willing to drop the harsh-ness of my stance if PSE coaches and advocates stop trying to “cram it down the throats of everyone” as the panacea and holy grail of sprinting. Run all you want out on the roads, all day long however your body will allow. But for the kid’s sake, stop telling some HS kid how to POSE because its going to help him run faster on the football field. You may knowingly drink the proverbial “Kool-Aid” and are ok w/ it, or maybe you just haven’t done enough of your own research outside of Romonov and crossfit. But that’s a big gamble when you’ve got someone else’s future in your hands.

    • canute1 Says:

      Raphael,

      I agree that it is wrong to encourage youngsters who have hopes of achieving elite status to employ the Pose technique. In my opinion it is a technique for ‘consenting adults’ who place a higher priority on minimising stress on their knee joints than on becoming elite athletes. Even adults cannot be regarded as giving real consent if they have been given inaccurate information. The purpose of my blog is to provide in forum that gives voice to a range of opinion, from which I hope an intelligent reader can appreciate not only that uncertainties exist, but also see that that scientific evidence does provide the basis for making balanced decisions even in the face of uncertainty.

      I agree with the point you make about the role of hip extension produced by hamstring and the gluteus maximus/TFL complex acting even when there is a degree of flexion of the hip (and knee). I think that it is this group of muscles that provides the push in early stance when the hip is still partially flexed. The hip flexion that occurred during the preceding swing preloads the muscle fibres thereby enhancing the strength of contraction, which not only arrests the forward rotation of the torso that would otherwise occur at foot-strike, but also exerts a downward (and rearwards) push. The fact that G max insets into the iliotibial band gives it much greater mechanical advantage that it appears to have in diagrams of the fibres making up the muscle body. It also makes it clear why runners need to make sure that their knee alignment does not allow the ITB to snag on the tuberosity on the lateral aspect of the knee.

  13. Push or Pull? A Look at Running Propulsion : Runners Connect Says:

    […] 1. Magness, S. Running with proper biomechanics http://www.scienceofrunning.com/2010/08/how-to-run-running-with-proper.html 2. McGee, B.: Triathlon: The Run, Volume 4 –  USA Triathlon Training Series http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=GSGzqkjrWRA 3. Romanov, N.: The Role Of The Glutes In Running. 2007 http://www.posetech.com/training/archives/000518.html 4. Romanov, N.: The Extensor Paradox In Running. 2005 http://www.posetech.com/training/archives/000262.html 5. Romanov, N.: Pose-Fall-Pull Concept (2005) http://www.posetech.com/training/archives/000157.html 6. Huntley, T.: Pose Running: Is it Appropriate for Sprinting? (2012) http://myathleticlife.com/2012/02/pose-running-sprinting/ 7.  Canute.: Does Usain Bolt run Pose style? (2010) http://canute1.wordpress.com/2012/03/11/does-usain-bolt-run-pose-style/ […]

  14. Matt Phillips (@sportinjurymatt) Says:

    Marvellous read, full of useful and productive analysis. Great comments too, can learn do much from a healthy debate!
    Canute: I have sourced this piece in an article I have written for Runners Connect. Do you have an active Twitter account?

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