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The Math of Running Mechanics

Suppose you’re a normal runner who takes about 160 steps per minute, and let's say you run for about 30 minutes, landing at an impact of 2-3x of your body weight. (By the way, some estimates are much higher, even 5-8x your body weight, especially if you consider running down hill or with very poor “non-Chi Running” mechanics.)

160 x 30 = 4800 steps per run

4800 x 2 = 9600 x (your body weight, let’s estimate 150 lbs) = 1,440,000 lbs/run

4800 x 3 = 14400 x (~150 lbs) = 2,160,000 lbs/run

As you can see, the amplitude of force and the repetition of force through your whole body is quite significant. Very quickly, we see steps x force reaching into the thousands of TONS over just a few running efforts, and if your strides are not performed correctly, we have repetition of loading that is asymmetrical through each of the joints of the body.

Therefore, it is absolutely imperative for any running rehabilitation plan to include adjustments to one’s stride. You can do soft tissue work and core work and any other strengthening, which will help; however if you do not get to the true root of biomechanical inefficiency and excessive loading then you are going to continue to struggle.

If you run with poor mechanics and get hurt, it’s like putting your hand on a hot stove. Even if we work on rehabbing your injury with soft tissue work, exercises, and stretches, if you keep running with the same poor mechanics, then you’re putting your hand right back onto that hot stove. STOP THIS NOW!!!

One of the most simple and effective programs that I have come across to help with making changes to one stride is ChiRunning. This incorporates the concepts of tai chi movement patterns to create proper alignment with relaxed movement. Instead of working to push off the legs and get the legs stronger, ChiRunning works to focus on your core to help you use gravity to help you fall forward. This way, all those millions of pounds flow more through you and around you instead of jamming up into your skeletal structure. It’s like having nice smooth round wheels compared to square wheels.

I strongly encourage anyone who's interested in changing their form to look into attending a ChiRunning workshop, or at least get the video or book by Danny Dreyer. It will be well worth the investment to go through the exercises and body focus drills that help you to do the things you need to do to becoming a more efficient runner.

Trent Corey PT, DPT

Find Yourself Running, LLC

Xtra Mile Physical Therapy

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