Chi running is a technique that helps to reduce running injuries. This technique combines elements of tai chi with specific running methods to create a practice that is easier on your body and rehabilitative for your muscles and joints.
Common Running Injuries
It has been estimated that more than half of people who run regularly will deal with some type of running injury in their lives. Here are a few of the common injuries that runners experience:
- Runner's Knee: This is when the cartilage of your kneecap is irritated.
- Shin Splints: In this condition, you experience pain on the inside or front parts of your lower leg.
- Achilles Tendinitis: You may feel soreness in your Achilles tendon, located between your heel and the muscles of your lower leg. This condition often results from running up hills, pushing yourself too hard in training or dealing with tight muscles.
- Heel Pain: You may feel pain due to strain of the plantar fascia, which extend from your heel to your toes.
Chi Running as a Solution
Chi running is rooted in the philosophy that your body's chi, also known as life force or energy, determines your state of health and well-being. When your chi is flowing without obstruction, your body will experience good health and give you the energy you need.
As it applies to running, it is harnessing the power of chi, which resides largely in your center, or abdomen, that allows you to run with fewer injuries. When using the chi running technique, you take a holistic approach to running. You focus on greater alignment of the spine, which allows the chi to move freely through your body. Your mind is relaxed and focused on relaxing your muscles. Rather than powering through your running workout, you are focused on deep breathing to fuel your body with oxygen.
In chi running, you do not run on the balls of the feet. This is considered an inefficient running method that leads to injuries. When running on the balls of the feet, your calves and shins experience greater muscle tightness, particularly with long distance running. In chi running, you lead from the ankles and step on the mid-foot. With an aligned spine, you lean slightly forward to let gravity help you move with more efficiency.
Chi Running and the Mind
Chi running engages your mind and can be very meditative. Your intent with chi running is to set achievable goals and create greater personal awareness that allows you to be in touch with how your body is feeling at all times. Your objective is not to achieve a running goal at the expense of your body.
Chi running requires you to approach running with a different mental state and physical technique than a traditional or aggressive way of running that focuses on muscle building and pushing through pain at all costs. The chi running technique may be for you if you want to adopt an approach to running that acknowledges the connection between the mind, body and spirit, an approach that directs your personal chi, or energy, towards healing and recovery.