I see online and overhear sometimes discussions of muscles and I wonder if people participating in the discussion are conducting a scientific experiment, putting forth a hypothesis or are they participating in a theoretical discussion of human anatomy. It is so popular to throw around scientific terms and big words. However, all of that is pointless and useless unless you’re actually studying anatomy or have scientific interest in that topic. If you’re a recreational runner, an athlete of any level or a coach you don’t need to know anatomy. What you need is to know HOW to move.

‘Types’ of Knowing

Within the context of athletics and training, there are things we need to know and don’t need to know in a sense of practically useful information. It is human nature to want to know. However, just because we’re curious about various types of muscles, it doesn’t mean we need to know, or that this type of knowing will be practically helpful for performing a specific task. As a matter of fact, certain types of information prevent people from seeing the big picture. It’s ok to amass information, but it is also important to not lose sight of the correct hierarchy of things.

Knowing various types of muscle fibers or singling out various muscle groups, their structure and their function will not make a practical difference and will not make you a better athlete. If you want to be better at running, throwing, jumping, lifting, swimming, etc – what you need to know is how to do it and what specific action(s) to take to make it happen.

Ego VS Body

Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, our body, our muscles “know” (for the lack of a better term) what they need to do and they do it. Our problems begin when we 1) imagine that it’s possible to consciously control and 2) then insist on controlling every aspect of our body moving in space and time. Add to that the fact that most people either have zero instruction or the wrong instructions on HOW to move and it is not difficult to see the potential mess we can get into.

Here’s a fun video to provide demonstration of the speed of human reaction:

Our reaction to pain is faster that the speed of our thought.

While we think about what we assume our muscles should be doing in order to move our leg this way or that way, and we think of what muscles should be firing or working – our body and its constituent parts have already not only activated the necessary parts, but most likely have already finished the job, too. The speed of our thought, no matter how fast we assume we think, is a lot slower than any interaction that naturally goes on within a human body. So, unless it is your intent to slow yourself down, think only of the action that needs to happen to promote a particular task at hand, i.e. if you want to run, think only of pulling your foot up to change support. The rest of the elements of a particular athletic activity should be worked on and brought to the level of autopilot in training sessions.

‘Big Picture’ Hierarchy

The most logical place to start the hierarchy of movement is our environment. Our movement is not a random and independent twitching of muscle fibers. Our whole body is at the mercy of natural forces that make up our world and are ruled by gravity. It holds everything together.

Gravity is the starting point.

Gravity gives us bodyweight. No gravity -> no bodyweight -> no movement. Gravity less than on Earth -> same body different weight -> dramatic changes in basic movement (Ex.: running turns into hopping)

Dr. Nicholas Romanov, founder of the Pose Method, demonstrates how our active muscle efforts are useless without the presence of body weight. How do you use your muscles when running? Have you ever been told to “fire your glutes”? In this video, watch how your muscles can be rendered useless when you can’t apply your body weight.

Muscles’ Purpose

All muscles are equally important. We should not take our body apart – these muscles are for running, these fibers are for speed, these are for cycling, and these are for lifting, etc. This is not how it works. This confusion comes from lack of understanding of how our body operates. Each muscle and muscle group perform their own important function, and, as we can see, they are all connected. All muscles work in sync. The synchronization includes the entire body and extends all the way to our heartbeat.

Now let’s zoom out to see the big picture. Muscles, along with tendons and ligaments, hold the whole body together and provide an intricate network of mechanisms that allow movement. ‘Allow’ is the keyword. Without our bodyweight, the same network of muscles still provides the same mechanisms yet movement either does not happen at all, or looks very differently.

As far as movement is concerned, our muscles mean nothing without our bodyweight. Muscles do not create or initiate movement. Muscles play the supporting role.


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One of the most important yet simple and thus overlooked and undervalued aspects of Pose Running is the springness position, aka the S-stance. So it comes as no surprise when you see someone doing the ‘figure 4’ aka the Running Pose while standing on a completely straight leg with a locked knee.

The Springness Position, aka the S-stance, aka the Running Pose is a position of readiness – your joints unlocked and your body ready to move in any direction at a moment’s notice. This is why this position is the foundational point and also the position that most of the Pose technique drills start from.

Here’s a video clip from our online course “Beginner’s Guide to Pose Running”. It’s very simple, practice along or whenever you’re able. Get in the habit of getting into the s-stance and staying relaxed when you’re drilling or warming up or training, etc.



The Origins

The S-like shape of the Running Pose was conceived to emulate the rear legs (bent in all joints) of animals who can run both fast and far.

Look at these photos demonstrating a variety of animals at speed. In each case, the rear legs are bent in all joints. There is no full extension, no complete unbending in the joints. This is completely natural running. And it merits further study to understand its implications for human movement.






The Benefit: Resilience

The principal asset of the S-like stance is that it facilitates optimum muscular elasticity. Elasticity is the ability of muscles to perform work, specifically to contract rapidly after an immediately prior extension. Nature’s design for running, the S-like stance, keeps all the connective tissue – muscles, tendons and ligaments – in a resilient, elastic state. Connective tissue that is not stretched to the limit remains supple and able to work efficiently.

Here’s a test you can perform at home with a dog or cat. First, try to stretch one of their rear legs to a fully straightened position. It’s virtually impossible. Nature has designed these legs to remain bent, keeping everything nice and relaxed.

Then, dig your fingertips into the thigh muscle of the animal. You might expect to feel a very hard muscle and be growled at by animal in pain. Instead you’ll
receive an impassive stare and feel very pliable muscle tissue. You can actually press all the way to the bone without causing any discomfort to the animal whatsoever.

It’s funny, but we are conditioned by the media to think of “rockhard” muscles as representing the ultimate in strength when in fact the opposite is true. The muscle that is the supplest and most elastic is the one capable of performing efficient work. Conversely, a rock hard muscle is laced with scar tissue and is too stiff to work efficiently.



The Benefit: Maneuverability

While we still have the dog or cat around, we can take note of yet another feature of nature’s running design – no heels. Dogs, cats and other animals don’t strike the ground with their heels because they don’t have them. Natural selection has forced them to run on the front part of the foot.

In the same fashion, in the Running Pose the runner is supported on the ball of the foot, with the leg bent in all joints (especially the knee joint) and the heel slightly above the support or lightly touching it. Most importantly, the weight is always kept on the ball of the foot. The Running Pose is lifted directly from nature and maintains all the connective tissue in a state of optimal preparedness to perform efficient work.

Please don’t confuse this with the directive to run on your toes. The emphasis here is on keeping your bodyweight focused on the front part of your foot where the heel operates at its own discretion and acts as a balancing support when necessary by also bearing some of the weight when needed.

Your ability to maintain the s-shape is especially important in sports where there are sudden twists and sharp turns, and zigzagging going on.

Benefit: Reduced Energy Expenditures

When standing, or going about daily tasks, notice how locking joints puts more stress on you compared to when you keep your joints slightly bent at all times (notice, if you bend your knees too much you will experience the opposite effect). While running, for example, when you remain is the pose as you change support from one foot to the next, you maximize the use of your muscular elasticity and resilience and thus reduce your energy expenditures. In fact, a 1964 study indicated that mechanical efficiency of running increased up to 50%, due to contributions from elastic storage and return of energy.

You must coordinate your muscles into an integral system to the point where it feels absolutely natural. That takes time, focus and effort but obviously it is worth it.

Benefit: Better Timing

Another beneficial aspect of the compactness and elasticity of the s-shape is its natural facilitation of better timing. Timing is everything. Just ask a sprinter that started moving out of the blocks a fraction of a second too soon, or an acrobat that was off by just a tiny bit. Similarly, correct timing in movement, and as part of running technique specifically, allows for your body to operate like a well oiled perfect machine in sync not just internally but also externally, with the environment. Timely pull of the foot makes running easier and also helps avoid a whole lot of injuries.