The Pose Method

By Dr. Nicholas Romanov

In Running, Videos

November 17, 2009

Video Article

CrossFitters know all about gravity: it’s the unrelenting force that sometimes keeps a PR deadlift glued to the floor. But according to Dr. Nicholas Romanov, gravity can also make you a better runner.

Dr. Romanov, a two-time Olympic coach, invented the Pose Method in the 1970s as a way to improve efficiency by letting gravity do some of the work usually done by muscles. For an untrained observer, it can be hard to tell Pose runners from “normal” runners, but still photographs of Pose athletes reveal that a straight but oblique line can be drawn between the shoulder, hip and ankle at ground contact due to a forward-leaning body position. In traditional running, that line is often curved, with the ankle in front of the hip during the support phase of the stride.

Using Dr. Romanov’s technique, runners attempt to conserve energy by leaning forward, pulling the feet off the ground, avoiding heel strikes and letting gravity take care of the rest. Each step becomes a very precise movement designed to produce maximum efficiency.

Video by CrossFit by Overload.

3min 58sec

Additional reading: The Basics of Pose Running Techniques by Brian MacKenzie, published Dec. 1, 2007.

Download

Comment

47 Comments on “The Pose Method”

1

wrote …

Good.

This series, if it pans out the way I hope it does, is long overdue.
I'd still rather get to one of the CF Endurance certs, I know Brian is recognised as being a good instructor of the Pose method during this seminar, but this will be a huge help for people trying to grasp this stuff on their own.

Thank-you.

2

wrote …

Can't wait for the rest of this series, looks amazing.

3

wrote …

Awesome, been wanting some solid pose info for a while now.

4

replied to comment from Craig Massey

Buy his DVD, it's great

5

Jesse Gray wrote …

I'm a fan of focusing on running bio mechanics but I think crossfit's adherence to the POSE style is a bit misguided. It has been shown in at least one study that the POSE style is less efficient than even some heel striking running styles. It's about time crossfit dropped the POSE and threw some other running techniques into the black box.
Here's a link to one article.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=AbstractPlus&list_uids=16195026&query_hl=1&itool=pubmed_docsum
Here's a link to the blog I got found it through which is a great place for info on running and sport science in general.
http://www.sportsscientists.com/2007/10/pose-running-reduces-running-economythe.html
Overall, the POSE technique seems to do a better job of selling books on POSE running than making better runners!

6

wrote …

That's a #%$^& tease!

7

wrote …

I'm sorry but I had a hard time taking Dr.Romanov seriously because I was waiting for him to say "sexy time". Great info and I am looking forward to this series.

8

wrote …

Looking forward to the rest of the series. Bummed that I've been cliff-hangered...

9

Cody Limbaugh wrote …

I hope this is the first in a LONG line of POSE videos. I feel like the info given up to date here in the journal is just enough to let me know how screwed my running mechanics are but not enough info to apply to REALLY getting it.

CrossFit by Overload has been producing so top-notch stuff lately- I hope this is as good!

10

wrote …

Yeah the video was horrible. A lot of music and no substance. This is the Crossfit journal and not a late night infomercial, right?

11

wrote …

really looks great, been waiting for this too.

12

wrote …

As someone whose been to a CFE cert, learned a lot, and really improved from it, I have to take issue with some of the the things you're quoting there Jesse. First of all, the second link has almost no data except a reference to the first link. The only new quantitative data in the second link is the fact that 3/4 of the people in that race in Japan ran heel-toe, which is neither surprising nor does it prove anything other than the fact that most people run heel-toe in their shoes. Oh, and their graph which shows that the percentage of people who heel-striked in that race went down as the runners got faster.


Regarding the first study,

"The global change in running mechanics associated with 12 weeks of instruction in the pose method resulted in a decrease in stride length, a reduced vertical oscillation in comparison with the control group and a decrease of running economy in triathletes."


One of the goals of pose is to keep a (relatively) high cadence and minimize vertical oscillation, so on the first two points the test group did exactly what we'd hope to see. The claim that they had decreased running economy is interesting and would be worth exploring - but there's almost no follow up information there other than a graph with a single number. If you can find more detailed information on that claim it would be interesting, but what we have is just not enough to go on. (Imagine if someone tried to claim refined carbohydrates weren't harmful and cited a single study which only produced a single number without much explanation...)


As a side note, I would argue that the final arbiter of good running biomechanics is what works best barefoot. We may wear shoes (well, I wear Vibrams), but if we want to understand how our bodies were meant to run we should see what method works best in nature. Have you tried running heel-toe barefoot? *It hurts*. After the first 800m, everyones stride naturally becomes more pose-like if you run them without shoes.


Just a thought.

13

wrote …

ponying up for membership get me a longer teaser? looking forward to the real thing!

at a glance, this looks a lot like "chi-running". Is chi just a rip off of this? chronologically it would seem so.

definitely agree with the barefoot running comment -- running in the vibram five fingers has improved my form a LOT. heel strike becomes prohibitive. the 'better' the shoes, the worse form you can screw yourself with.

14

replied to comment from Craig Massey

I'm really looking forward to this...

15

Well Ryan, the Science of sport article says exactly what you did, that reduced vertical oscillation and a higher cadence are to be expected. The issue is with the decreased running efficiency as measured by liters oxygen consumed km run at various speeds. This is considered one of the key ways to measure running efficiency. In addition, both studies (there are two, one cited by the POSE people, the two week study) showed an increase on stress to the ankle/achilles area in addition to the reduced work load on the knee joint. That's good if you have bad knees but not great if you have ankle problems. Overall the net injury rate seems to be a push.
Second, I did not say that heel toe running is better, as a matter of fact I am a long time vibram wearer and last January ran a 1/2 marathon on asphalt in them. I don't run with a heel strike but I don't use the POSE either because it's not that efficient. Furthermore, if you look at the top distance runners in the world you will see that the vast majority do not heel strike but also do not use the POSE style.
Lastly I don't know why you are harping on me for my links, they're exactly what I said they were, a link to the study and a link to the site I found the study on. I really don't know why you even brought that up. If one study isn't good enough for you then you probably shouldn't listen to most of the Crossfit methods because many of them are based on a single study. As far as the POSE running research is concerned, only one study even compares it to another style of running for efficiency and it's against heel toe style. The rest of the studies only show how it reduces stress on the knee or are biomechanical studies not actually based on the POSE style that have been used to reinforce a point associated with the POSE style.

The bottom line is, POSE has one study showing it sort of works. There is a much more complete study showing that it does reduce vertical oscillation and increase cadence but the net result is a less efficient running style. As to claims it reduces injury, it does but only to the knee while leading to increased injury rates for the ankle so it's a relatively moot argument for the POSE style unless you have bad knees.

Finally, I'm not saying that the POSE is all bad, just that it's not the miracle running style Crossfitters seem to think it is. When it comes to running there is lots of info and differing opinions out there and you have to really do your research. I would recommend you read the comments on the Science of Sport blog which answer many of the questions you have in detail and if you're really serious about running I would recommend you subscribe to science of sport (it's free and they explore scientific articles related to sport and exercise physiology, really cool stuff!). Science of Sport is actually a very well known blog for elite runners bikers, triathletes, CSCS', etc...

Anyways, not trying to rag on you for the POSE stuff but if you're really into running you need to open your eyes a little bit. POSE is way better than nothing but it definitely isn't the final answer either.

16

Jordan Gravatt wrote …

Guys, relax. This is just a highlight reel of the weekend. There will be more to come, I promise.

17

wrote …

@ Jesse...

"Furthermore, if you look at the top distance runners in the world you will see that the vast majority .....do not use the POSE style."


I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with you here. As an elite middle distance runner, one thing that unifies all elite distance athletes (and sprinters) is a very high cadence. Watch some video's of Michael Johnson, argueably the best 400m sprinter in our era. Study the Africans and tell me they aren't "pose" running.


All new movements take time, drills, drills and more drills. Is there more load on the achilles and ankle? Sure there is, but that's how our foot was designed, to absorb this kind of impact. I would agree it may take longer to fully implement in order to be operable at max speed. But overall, the health benefit in combination with the long term benefit of the running athlete far outweighs a temporary loss in "efficiency". While O2 intake may be greater in these studies they fail to account for muscle fatigue, interval splits, time trials, etc. Maybe they mentioned this, but I didn't see it.


I'm speak from experience in training my athletes in pose tech while also cleaning up my form as well. I've seen and accounted for some amazing results. My times have gotten faster, I don't pull hip flexors while sprinting, and for the most part, I just plain quicker.


I believe not educating the general public or athlete on proper technique is a big mistake in the running world. I for one was never advised, except for proper arm carry. To not educate the skill of the running movement, like any other movement, Oly lifting, swimming, etc. is a huge mistake and a disservice to all runners, whether they have dreams of becoming elite or just want to pound some pavement on the weekends.


Regards,
Brendon Mahoney
http://sanfranciscoendurance.com

18

Jesse Gray wrote …

@ Brendan,
Ok, easy there! I didn't say that not all elite runner's have low cadences, I totally agree with you that they all do have high cadence/short stride. We're in agreement there, I'm just saying that they don't use the POSE style. A high cadence and low vertical oscillation is not unique to the POSE style. Also, I said distance runners, Micheal Johnson is in no way a distance runner. We are also both clearly in agreement that it is important to focus on biomechanics. Bad running is bad running. I just believe that POSE is not right for everyone and if you don't have injury issues running it very well may not be in your best interest to drastically switch running styles. It's easy for uneducated runners to think that POSE is THE way to run and it's not. It is for some but not all. At this point I'm just repeating myself so I'll shut up, good debate!

-Jesse Gray

P.S. Usain Bolt, current world record holder in 100 and 200 meters uses a relatively long stride ;)

19

Jesse Gray wrote …

Just to be totally clear, I AM NOT ANIT-POSE RUNNING! I just think people should know the jury is still out on it in the elite running community and it's not for everyone.

20

wrote …

I got certified in POSE by Dr. Romanov early this year and it has been a tremendous help in my training. Some of the soldiers in my special population group, who hold no running profiles, are now running thanks to the POSE skills that I have taught them. Check out the POSE TECH site and read about their critique and admiration for Usain Bolt's running style. I also agree with much of what Brendon Mahoney has to say.

21

wrote …

I was hoping for some actual information on how to do the POSE method and not just an extended commercial for the upcoming program. Personally, this was a waste of my time.

22

wrote …

Timothy, there are a few other articles in the journal by Brian MacKenzie and by Michael Collins that talk about the actual POSE method more in depth.

23

wrote …

Does anyone know what that technique is called he uses to keep the one guy from being able to push back against his finger towards the end?

24

wrote …

All the technique debating aside....

I'm a rather big guy- 6'-3", 220lbs- and have never actually been taught- nor learned- how to properly run. Because of this, I tend to slam my feet into the ground pretty hard, heel-toe like, resulting in an inability to run more than, say 200m before the pain in my legs becomes unbearable. It also drastically shortens my endurance level, because its so bloody inefficient. Globogym folks call it "pounding" because at high speeds on a treadmill, a guy my size will cause the treadmill to shake, and the foot contact is LOUD. Other than WRONG, I'm not sure what the proper name for it is.

For me, the POSE method seems infinitely better than anything I've been exposed to, if only because it would teach me proper mechanics rather than the usual "Just go run".

Is this taught in the Crossfit Endurance cert?

25

William Davidson wrote …

All this and more.

26

William Davidson wrote …

Oh, and I'm looking forward to the continuation of this teaser.

27

wrote …

If you want more info and can't wait on the next journal article go to exercises and demos on the main site and go to Running. It has a lot of videos of POSE running and some indepth stuff.

28

wrote …

Jason, we do teach proper running biomechanics at the CrossFit Endurance Certification. We film athletes twice so they can physically see the change in their own running. I highly encourage you to attend. If you have other questions, please don't hesitate to contact me.

29

wrote …

The study linked below searched for the most metabolically efficient pace and found it to be 7:14 min/mile for men and 9:14 for women on average. Running below or above got the runner less bang for their energy buck. This sweet-spot is varied between individuals.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090319142411.htm

It would be interesting to see if this sweet-spot shifts one way or the other when changing running style. It follows from the study that decreased efficiency at a given pace does not necessarily lead to decreased efficiency across all paces.

Some more data from the study Jesse sited would be cool. Like, do they race faster now? Is their a decreased injury rate? Decreased perceived exertion? Improved recovery rate? Better efficiency off the bike (they are triathletes after all)? Did those who learned POSE return to their previous style or did they like POSE better? That might be more applicable information then how efficient they are pre and post at strict 6:26 and 7:30 paces, though the information is interesting on its own.

30

wrote …

Yes it's a teaser, but there has already been a ton of other pose stuff posted, enough to "get started".

31

The study is pretty limited, I think it would be a good thing in general to more studies on elite runners in general. In the comments section on that science of sport article the author talks about how a number of factors like depending where they were in the training cycle for POSE running could also have an effect on their efficiency. The postulate that maybe in a few more weeks of POSE running they would be more used to it and more efficient so who knows?
There are all kinds of interesting theories on POSE and barefoot running, a couple that caught my attention are 1) The increase in injury rate for runners since the the 70's is not due to cushioned shoes which promote heel strikes but instead due to the huge increase in less athletic people who took up recreational running. Interesting, who's to say? I think it's probably a bit of both. 2) Fast runners aren't fast because they run on their forefoot, rather, it's the opposite way around; when you run fast you naturally lean forward so elite runners who can hold the equivalent of a 14 second hundred meter dash for 500 or 600 meters are in what the average person would consider a flat out sprint position but what would happen if those elite people slow down? Would they change styles? Again, I have no idea! I think the number one factor for really great runners is genetics!
Here's another science of sport article on foot striking
http://www.sportsscientists.com/2008/04/running-technique-footstrike.html

32

replied to comment from Joen Pettersson

Good point.
I don't know why I haven't.

33

replied to comment from Jordan Gravatt

Excellent.

And rather than flood the comments with more posts:
Yes there are several other videos from the Endurance cert and of Brian teaching in general that are a huge help to get started, but there isn't a comprehensive series of videos detailing how the Pose method is taught, how to correct common faults and how the various drills are used. Nothing that takes you from beginning to end in a way that lets you stand a reasonable chance of learning this no matter where you're starting from.
There are several for Olympic Lifting and while many people argue that running is instinctive and doesn't need the same level of detailed training as the Olympic lifts, the statement made by our Clydesdale classmate Jason ( :-) ) expresses a perfect rebuttal to that.
Some of us run horribly and need this help. I have no problem admitting I'm one of them and am very grateful to CrossFit by Overload, Dr Romanov and The CrossFit Journal for providing this information. My knees thank-you. My calves will not, for a while. :-)

34

wrote …

Does improving jump rope skills (double-unders) also help with running POSE or any other method?

35

Jonathan Burns wrote …

Does anyone know how to POSE downhill? Leaning forward makes me get a bit out of control.

36

I would theorize that in a downhill situation you don't need to lean forward because gravity is already working for you by virtue of the fact that the ground is at an angle. Perhaps try to maintain the same forward angle relative to the ground as you would normally unless the hill is really steep (like in Aromas!). I would guess going uphill is a whole different story as well, as soon as it gets even kinda steep I don't know how you can avoid being a totally quad dominant forefoot striker.

37

wrote …

Jesse, I applaud your voicing about CrossFitters actually understanding what they're buying into with regards to POSE.

If anyone's interested the blog posted has some very interesting replies to the data presented as showing POSE made runners less effecient.

Extract from Blog writers
"But the far right panel is most interesting. It shows that the oxygen cost of running was HIGHER after Pose Training - the running economy was thus reduced. What is the big deal with running economy? Well, it's one of the variables that often gets cited as being critical for running success"

One poster replied...

"So, just a wee bit of science: 1) The difference in the oxygen consumption rates is only marginally statistically significant, in light of all other variables that need to be controlled for. 2) It is just one study involving only 16 subjects, that needs to be independently verified. 3) It lasted just 12 weeks and, as has been pointed out, there were no intermediate measurements of the oxygen consumption. 4) The measured oxygen consumption as reported is an aggregated value, which obscures gains and losses by individual athletes. 5) The athletes in the study come to the study with a variety of running styles and experiences, which further relativizes gains or losses."

So what does this mean? Try POSE for yourself - see if it does indeed make you faster, more injury resistant and enjoy running more. If you give it a fair chance what have you lost?

Most people poo-pooed CF.... until they did it for themselves.

What ever people understand POSE to be, it is at least, a starting point. Measurable, repeatable and observable.

38

wrote …

I can't say that POSE is the best running style or prove that scientifically it is the best biomechanically, however, from my experience I had seen dramatic changes in my running. A year ago I had an operation to repair a torn cartilage caused by over training. During my recovery I learned about the POSE method and started to adopt it once I was back on my feet. I noticed some calf tightness initially, naturally because of the muscles working differently, but also noticeably I had less knee stress so I was satisfied with the technique for my purposes. What did surprise me was my 10km race times started dropping by nearly 5 minutes. For years I have tried different training methods to increase my speeds but nothing seemed to work for me. I have had no negative reactions to the POSE style.

39

replied to comment from Craig Massey

Dr. Romanov knows his stuff-He did a seminar at my facility a few months ago, and this stuff has really changed the way people run/jog.

40

wrote …

Good discussion guys. It's one of the reasons I think Crossfit is so successful. Intelligent people reviewing ALL available information and trying to determine what works best. We never take anything for granted.

Peter, your comments about TESTING the system for yourself are spot on. There are a ton of variables involved in the study that are not reported, but that will have an impact on the results. For instance, did the study participants have to run on a treadmill to measure oxygen consumption? If so, then that may (and I only say MAY) give a slight advantage to heel-toe runners. After all, you're not really running (moving your body across a given distance) when you move on a treadmill, you're simply moving your legs in a motion that imitates running. On a treadmill, any motion that requires you to move your legs more often at a given treadmill pace would then seem to be a disadvantage.

The answer about whether the POSE method works is simply get out on the road and find out for yourself.

41

wrote …

For Jonathon McBride:

Jumping rope is great for POSE, not sure about double unders specifically. Regular 2 footed jumps get you on and off your forefoot faster leading to faster leg turnover. Less time spent on the ground makes you a faster runner.

42

wrote …

Brian,

Thanks. I thought it might. I'm a bigger guy who has trouble with foot speed, and have recently increased jump rope work. I'm hoping that will lead to faster run times.

43

Russell Berger wrote …

This is totally anecdotal, but my own experience with POSE method supports the claim that it makes some runners slower, or less efficient. I was relatively fast when I started CrossFit, but was injured with an irritating regularity. I started trying to use the "Chi-running" technique at the same time I started CF, back in 2005. Chi-running is basically the same thing as the POSE method from what I could tell, but not taught nearly as well or as effectively. The POSE method instructors I've worked with since seem to view the author ( I think his name is Danny dreyer) as a shameless theif, but I've never paid much attention to the history of either camp.

After about six months of practicing the POSE technique, I was slower and less injured. I slowly became faster and now easily destroy previous PR's in every distance.

Why the steps backwards? I think the shift in muscular recruitment to the hamstrings is a big enough change for some runners (who have notoriously weak posterior chains) to actually reduce performance until they build capacity in those mucles.

Just a thought.

I think this conversation is fairly analagous to the effectiveness of CrossFit itself. The POSE method didn't find its way into our community because of some study on elite ahtletes or the approval of an authority in the feild of running. It's growing in popularity because of the impressive results it provides to the regular joe out there trying it out on his own.

44

wrote …

I think this conversation is fairly analagous to the effectiveness of CrossFit itself. The POSE method didn't find its way into our community because of some study on elite ahtletes or the approval of an authority in the feild of running. It's growing in popularity because of the impressive results it provides to the regular joe out there trying it out on his own.
Yeah, that.

Well said.

45

wrote …

Does this mean that Dr. Romanov is giving POSE certs? If so, would love to host one!!

46

wrote …

I am a high school cross country and track coach for a number of years now. I personally know and coached at some running camps with Dr. Jack Daniels (not the drink, but the world famous running coach). Dr. Daniels is one of the few people out there that I would call an authority on running. He coaches many Olympians - Anthony Famigletti, Joan Benoit Samuelson, Abdi Abdurami (sp?) and others. Anyways, I asked him about his thoughts on both POSE and Chi-running. He told me that he did an informal study with his athletes using various running forms (Pose was one of them). He said the study was not really scientific, more of an observational thing, but he found that Pose worked for some, but not others. Same could be said for the other forms that he used. He basically said it was worth introducing to people because it could help some, but if after 6 weeks or so it doesn't help, then switch back.

Just thought I'd pass that on ...

47

usaine bolt also uses pose method...

Leave a comment

Comments (You may use HTML tags for style)