I have the pleasure of regularly assisting Danny Dreyer, founder of ChiRunning and ChiWalking and author of 3 best-selling books on running, walking and marathon training, at his ChiRunning workshops in San Francisco and other locations around the country.
Since 1999, Danny has been helping runners of all levels, from total beginners to elite runners, excel at running while staying injury free.
I first learned ChiRunning in 2005 while I was living in NYC from my fabulous teacher Bryn Randolph. Since then, I have observed and personally experienced the evolution of the ChiRunning practice as Danny continues to expand his teachings and inspire us with greater wisdom every year.
Now 11 years after my first ChiRunning workshop, I'm excited to share with you two big takeaways from a recent workshop I attended with Danny.
Connect With Your Dantian
"Dantian?" I hear you ask. "Is that an alien from outer space?"
Well in a sense, yes because it's something you may never have felt nor have been aware of before now.
That 'outer space' however is an 'inner space' inside of you!
Here's how to find your Dantian.
From a standing position in your best ChiRunning posture, begin to visualize the area just below the navel, deep inside of you. It's not a physical location, but rather an energy center. It's the space approximately equi-distance between the front, back and sides of the body, about two inches below the navel. This area is called the Dantian. It comes from Tai Chi and Chinese Medicine.
So now you've found your Dantian, begin to focus and connect your mind with this area, this energy center, and keep your focus on your Dantian for a few long, slow, deep breaths. If your mind starts to wander, just notice that it's wandered off and gently, without judging, bring your mind focus back to your Dantian.
Once you are able to hold your focus on your Dantian for at least 10 seconds, begin to visualize your Dantian moving in front of your feet, and notice what happens. If the connection of your mind and your Dantian is strong, you will begin to lean naturally forwards, and you will start moving forwards slowly with gravity, into a walk or even a slow jog.
So what just happened?
Using the power of your mind you were able to direct your Dantian to move in front of your feet and you began moving forward from your center, your core, with a natural and efficient lean, allowing your Dantien and gravity to guide you forwards.
Pretty cool, huh?
Reducing Over and Under Pronation
Most people either pronate or supinate. Pronation is when the arches of the feet collapse inwards and supination is when the feet have high arches. Both situations can cause muscle imbalances and injuries when walking or running.
Pronation is due to weak adductors (muscles along the inner thigh), such that the insides of the legs are not supported and the arches therefore collapse when the foot is placed on the ground. Supination (or high arches) is due to tight adductors that literally pull the arches upwards.
To correct pronation it is recommended to strengthen the adductors. Leveling the pelvis, as we do when we create a neutral pelvis to engage our core in ChiRunning, also helps to lift the arches. Read more about neutral pelvis and correct ChiRunning posture here.
To correct supination it is recommended to stretch and loosen the adductors through massage and stretching. This will allow the inner thigh and all the way down to the feet to relax, allowing the arch to lower.
I hope you found these ChiRunning tips helpful and can apply these to your own running or walking form.
Truly the best way to learn ChiRunning and ChiWalking is in person with a Certified ChiRunning or ChiWalking Instructor. If you'd like to learn more, receive personal feedback on your running form and begin running pain free for the rest of your life, please check out our Trail Running, Yoga and Wine Tasting Retreats, or our ChiRunning Workshops.
Feel free to leave any comment and questions in the comments section below and share with your friends on social media if you found this article helpful.
Run safe, namaste and much love,
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