Like barefoot running, I have had a number of questions asked of me about Chi Running. Chi Running is a running philosophy and a running technique, developed by Danny Dreyer who is an ultramarathon runner and also practices Tai Chi, Yoga and Pilates. He attempts to combine these philosophies with his running.
As a running technique, its focus is to get runners to move in what is considered a more efficient and natural way. Chi running supporters consider that the traditional approach to running as focusing on the use of power and strength to push the runner along the ground as fast as possible with a rearfoot strike. The focus of Chi running to be more efficient and flowing with the use of a midfoot strike. Supporters claim that the Chi Running technique is more biomechanically sound, but I have seen NO evidence to support that and is typical of most of the claims made for Chi Running. Experts do disagree over the validity of changing the running style to being a midfoot striker. Changing a running style does increase oxygen consumption which to me would be considered a sign of an inefficient gait.
As a philosophy of running, it is about being more relaxed and to feel ‘at one with the road’, much like the spirit of Tai Chi, Yoga and Pilates. This is supposed to make the running experience more of a religious and spiritual experience.
A key component of Chi running is the use of a midfoot strike and New Balance has developed a running shoe specifically for this. That is how big New Balance obviously think the market it.
A number of unsubstantiated claims are made for Chi running, with one study does suggest that there is a reduction in injury in those who practice Chi running. But the results of this survey are only available on the Chi Running website and not in a peer reviewed scientific journal.
Opinion is clearly divided on this and there are a number of You Tube videos touting the benefits of Chi Running. Like barefoot running, I see no reason why Chi Running should or could not be part of any balanced running program. More