running

According to new research we may all be running incorrectly


Running is often described as a series of jumps. When our foot strikes the ground we naturally – and partly as a result of gravity and our biomechanics – want to displace most of the energy we are subjected to upwards. We are much less efficient at translating these vertical forces into a more horizontal direction. This is obviously crucial for optimum running whatever your distance.

Norwegian physicist Otto Kanstad believes that running should be seen as a series of falls (not jumps). He wants to use gravity as a propulsive aid and not as something to be overcome.

So how do runners have to run to gain more gravity power?

The basic premise of Kanstad’s technique – which he believes works for runners of all speeds from sprinters to marathoners – is to move the free leg forwards before the leg about to make footstrike hits the ground. It’s almost a mistiming of the running stride. This creates a forward fall which needs to be recovered. It’s this that when “caught” enables the runner to generate greater forward speed. Gravity is being worked with and not

against.

This is not an easy technique to learn

“The arms become very important as a counterbalance to leg movement,” says Kanstad, “You have to change to almost opposite the way you are used to using your arms and legs.” Tests on runners who have learnt to run this way have identified 10% savings in oxygen costs. Apparently Michael Johnson – world 400m record holder and Olympic champion – is an exemplar of this gravity-assisted running. We always wondered why he was so fast and why his technique was different to all the others. Now we know.