Chi running marries method and mindfulness

Mon Sep 17, 2012 5:41am EDT
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Chi Running evolved when a tai chi-practicing ultra-marathoner decided to apply principles from the Chinese system of slow, smooth movement to his running.

The resulting method, which enthusiasts hail as effortless and injury-free, is as specific in form as it is insistent on going with the flow.

"My goal is to turn running into a mindful practice, like tai chi or yoga" said Danny Dreyer, the runner and coach who developed Chi Running and wrote the "Chi Running" book.

"We teach focus: how the arms are held, why the hips and shoulders are relaxed," he said. "It's about learning to pay attention."

Dreyer, who is based in Ashville, North Carolina, said more than 200 instructors worldwide teach his technique, which enlists the Chinese principle of "chi," or energy flow, to reduce injury and enhance ease of movement.

"In tai chi, everything moves from center," Dreyer said. "Runners are used to running from their legs. When I switched to (running from) the core, it changed how I ran. I felt better."

Correct alignment is a tenet of chi running. Posture is the first thing Dreyer works on with clients.

"If posture isn't good, the support system isn't good," he said. "Any weakness or misalignment will really affect you because you're always on one leg," he said, noting that running injuries happen from the knees down.   Continued...