Thursday, November 15, 2012

Pose Running. Is it for you?

Pose Running

The pose running method was developed by Dr. Nikoloas Romanov as a safer more efficient way to run.  The idea behind Pose is that we as humans do not run correctly, and this leads to less efficient running and more running related injuries.

Humans need to be taught how to run properly, and Pose believes their method is the ideal way to run. 

Every other skill is taught proper technique such as swimming, throwing, shooting, etc, but not running.

Why not?

This is the question Dr. Romanov asked himself when he first developed this running method. 

Pose running is characterized by 3 phases - pose, fall, pull.  These are the ques that Pose will engrave in all it's runners.


This is the posture Pose runners need to adapt to. It is characterized by a forward body lean in which the ankle, hips, and shoulders are all in a straight line.

The support leg knee is slightly bent and you'll hear Dr. Romanov say how he wants to see a S-shape between the legs and torso.


Because of the forward lean in the pose position, the body is pulled forward by gravitational force.  So basically the runner starts to fall forwards and downwards and the support leg will naturally come off the ground and the lead leg will naturally leave the ground to prevent from falling on ones face.

Because of the lean and allowing the cycle leg to just drop to the ground, it will land directly under the center of mass of the runner and on the ball of the foot.  So the foot will not be out in front causing a braking action, this allows for gravity to "pull" you forward and takes slack of the muscular system.


The pull teaches the runner to actively pull their foot up under their butt after their support leg leaves the ground.  This eliminates backside mechanics and less time spent on the ground.

Overall the Pose running method is characterized by

  • Pose, Fall, Pull
  • Foot landings under the center of mass and on the balls of the feet
  • Shorter stride lengths
  • Higher stride cadence
  • Less stress put on the knee joint due to the slight bend in the knee and foot contact underneath the center of mass

Here's a video of Dr. Romanov teaching the pose, fall, and you can see the pull.


Pose has been a big component of altering and looking at running mechanics in a magnified light.  Dr. Romanov deserves some acknowledgement for looking for a better way to run and coming up with a method he believes is a better way to run.

Most of us out there could use some improvements in our running technique, and the fact that running is natural to everyone isn't exactly true.  Learning how to run properly can help with speed, efficiency, and decreased chance on injury.

I think that the Pose method is on the right track when talking about landing underneath the center of mass.  Landing underneath your center of mass eliminates braking forces that would regularly occur when you land out in front of your body.

Braking forces, as the name applies, cause very slight and quick "stops" in your running in which you need to expend a little more energy to overcome.  Landing underneath your center of mass also allows for a cleaner and quicker transition because the runner spends less time on the ground during this touchdown to toe-off stage.

Pose makes it so you land on the ball of your foot.  Landing on the ball of your foot again allows for a cleaner transition and less braking forces, and maximized the use of stored elastic energy or the lower leg.  It also takes stress off the knees because landing heal first sends a lot of force up through the legs.  Finally landing on the ball of your foot vs your heal allows a quicker stance phase and can potentially allow for less energy leaks.


While at first glance Pose might seem like a better way to run, I have some severe concerns.

First and foremost, I feel it is more designed for distance running than sprinting.  Everyone they work with is triathletes and distant runners, and not acceleration/sprinting types of activities.  I'm much more interested in acceleration and max velocity speed athletes and the pose method falls WELL short in terms of application for acceleration and max velocity.  In fact Pose even claims that Usain Bolt runs with Pose technique, but here is an article debunking that.

I also feel they don't quite understand what actually makes us run faster.  And that is force production.

The more force we apply into the ground, in the correct direction, and in the shortest amount of time is what allows one to run faster.

It's Newton's 3rd Law, for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction.  Now there is plenty of debate on what forces vertical (Peter Weyand, Mike Young) or horizontal (JB Morin, Dr. Yessis) are more important to speed, but it is accepted that the more force we can apply and in the shorter amount of time, the faster we will run.

Pose instead says that gravity just pulls the leg to the ground and the leg is basically there to be a point of support before falling over to the next stride becoming the next point of support.

So really running just becomes a transition of your legs becoming alternating points of support, not the runner putting forces into the ground.  Pose claims gravity, causing the body to fall, is where ground force application comes from.

This is debunked by science and it can't hold up to scrutiny.  Maybe it helps preserve energy in long ass races like a marathon, but like I said I'm not interested in that, I'm interested in sprinting, and in no form or fashion could this be beneficial.

The pull portion of the pose method is also not scientifically correct.  One does not actively pull their foot up to their butt when running, this is very common knowledge.

We talked about Newton's 3rd Law of Action/Reaction, and this is what is happening the the cycle foot.  The foot cycles up towards the butt as a reaction to the force and the direction of that force being applied to the ground.

Basically like a bouncy ball bouncing back up after hitting the ground, your foot bounces upwards after it's action with the ground.  The hamstring muscles are not active during this phase, look at any EMG of sprinting.

If you want less backside mechanics, then apply more force, in the correct direction with great posture.

Pose also promotes that this type of running takes a lot of stress of the knee joint and can allow runners to run without that hinderence.  What they don't tell you is that the forces taken off the knee have to go somewhere.

And where do they go? 

Your lower leg!

Because Pose lands with a bend and on the balls of your feet, it takes that stress from the knees to your achillis tendon, gastrocs, and foot.  Like I said before Pose is pushed more towards distance running, and if you take a runner and all of a sudden have him/her landing on the balls of their feet for miles at a time there will be consequences.  I said before landing on the ball of your feet are beneficial, but again if you're a sprinter running distances 400m or less, not running 26 miles.  So all they did was take pain away from the knee and put it on the lower leg. 

In fact, the study Pose always falls back onto when promoting itself is a study done in 2002 in Cape Town.  The studies results showed that after a week of being taught Pose running techniques, runners experienced

  • Shorter stride lengths
  • Higher Stride Frequency
  • Less vertical displacements
  • Lower rate of loading of he vertical impact force
  • Lower knee power absorption and eccentric work
  • Increased ankle power absorption and eccentric work

So of course all the benefits of this study were put to light, but the forces being transfered to the ankle were not.  In fact, this study was done with 20 participants, and 2 weeks after the initial results were posted 14 of the 20 participants broke down with either calf problems, achilles tendon sprains, or foot issues.  That's 70% of the participants experienced new pain from this technique!

Now what Dr. Romanov and other Pose instructors will say is that they were doing the technique wrong.  But in this study the participants were taught by Dr. Romanov himself and they went through a week of intensive coaching (here is a link to Ross Tucker and Jonathan Dugas article.  They were 2 of the participants in the study and are both sport scientists, very smart dudes).

Now if one cannot learn the technique from the creator himself after a week of intensive coaching, who can learn this technique.  Is it really worth it to try and alter mechanics, if it is this hard to learn, and can lead to other problems?

Finally there was another study done on Pose that took 8 triathletes through 12 weeks of Pose technique training, while another 8 kept their normal training.

Before and after the study each group were tested for stride length, stride frequency, vertical oscillation, and running economy at two different speeds (4:00min/km and 4:40min/km)

The results showed that for the Pose group, the subjects showed a decreased stride length (which was expected), decreased vertical oscillation, and reduced running economy.


That's exactly the opposite that Pose running is supposed to do.  Pose running in this study actually increased the oxygen cost of running (def. of running economy).  When running for distance this is not a good thing.  Also this study was done for 12 weeks!  That's a lot of time to develop the correct techniques and become comfortable with the techniques of Pose.

But Pose seemed like it was really on to something?

Maybe it still is, but from what we just looked at, it doesn't look like it.  Maybe if it is developed at an early age and more instilled into the runner, it may be a better way to run.  But the previous study showed that 12 weeks of using the Pose method resulted in poor results. That's 3 months!  For many coaches out there that is more time than we'll ever have with an athlete for a straight period of time.

So Is It Worth It?

For me personally I would say no.

  • First I have no interest right now in teaching/coaching distance running.
  • This technique, I feel, would not be beneficial to acclerlation/top-end speed; which all the sports I would coach.
  • This technique seems very hard to coach and to perfect. I am all for taking the time to coach proper technique, progressions, and overall just not being lazy; but when you only have a limited amount of time with athletes, Pose just doesn't fit in.
  • Overall if I was into distance running I would look further and more detailed into the Pose running method, as well as others (chi, barefoot, kenyan)

So I hope you now know a little bit more about Pose running and what it exactly is.  If your interested in learning more, research deeper into Pose for yourself, or ask me and I'll give you some links to help lead you the way.  

Go Get 'Em!


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