You’ve heard a million times that you should relax more; that loosening up a little bit could do wonders for your health. Turns out, it can also make you a better runner.
Relaxing your body is a main tenet of ChiRunning, a technique that incorporates principles of T’ai Chi to make your stride feel more fluid and less strenuous—and help you avoid injury. “It’ll change your perspective on running,” says senior instructor Maurice Wills.
One of the keys is tweaking your form so the impact from running is gentler on your body. Many people land on their heels. “But when you do that, you absorb three to five times your body weight,” says Wills, who co-owns a triathlon training facility called Infinity Multisport in Chicago. The shock travels up your legs, putting you at a greater risk of injury.
With ChiRunning, you aim for a mid-foot strike, with “a relaxed, floppy foot,” says Wills. Ideally your feet should land directly under or slightly behind your hips. That creates a softer landing that should help protect against aches and pains, he says.