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Developing Proper Poster For Walking and Running and Better Health

Jun 17, 2008
This interview is an excerpt from Kevin Gianni's Fountain of Youth Summit, which can be found at http://fountainofyouthworldsummit.com. In this excerpt, Danny Dreyer shares on developing proper posture for walking and running.

The Fountain of Youth World Summit with Danny Dreyer, author of ChiWalking and ChiRunning.

Kevin: You are an expert at this topic, I have been to some of your seminars and I have absolutely loved this approach to walking running and it is so radically different. I want to tell everyone out there is, if you have views about walking and running I want you to listen to this with an open mind because this could possibly change the way that you approach it for years and years to come. So Danny, why don't you tell us a little about your story?

Danny: Well, basically I have been running for about 35 years. In 1991, I started off just doing ultra running; I didn't start off with 5kms or 10 kms I just went off to ultra running.

Kevin: Explain what ultra running is.

Danny: Basically an ultra marathon is, any distance longer than a marathon. So it goes from 26.3 [laughs] all the way up to any amount, in fact there are some that are 3000 miles.

Kevin: Wow!

Danny: I didn't do that. My distance is 50km, 50 miles, 100kms, 100miles. I have done a couple 100 milers and I call myself a retired 100 miler at this point. But, I got into ultra running and in order to run those kind of distances I really needed to learn to become highly efficient with my running.

Kevin: Sure.

Danny: So I wasn't burning up all my fuel plus I was not banging myself up over the race course. Then I took my first Tai-Chi class and there was a tai chi master from China that was teaching us how in Tai-chi you have a centre line that runs down through the axis of your body, from your head to your toes.

Kevin: OK

Danny: You rotate through the centre line and if your posture and alignment is correct then your body weight is supported by the centre line not your muscles. And then you can relax everything else because Tai-chi is done in very aligned state, but a very relaxed state. So your arms and legs are really relaxed. The whole thing about Tai-chi is to get chi to move through our body directing it with your mind but letting the Chi move through your body. And I combined that with trying to keep my posture line really straight, trying to keep my arms and legs really relaxed, and at the same time trying to fall forward because I had been playing with this thing of leaning into the pull of gravity. To help propel me and it completely rocked my boat, I mean, I was never the same runner after that. So I have been working on perfecting this technique now for 10 years and been teaching it for about that long and we are having great results with people, you know, especially people that are afraid of injuries. When you said you want people to do this with an open mind, it's like you know, running has one of the worst reputations for hurting people -- Suspended disbelief is when you have a belief that when you think running is going to hurt you, I want you to suspend your disbelief momentarily while we explain this, but we have gotten people that have really come back from knee surgery, or avoided knee surgery, you know, all kinds of athletes that have found that not only feels better afterwards but they don't get hurt while they are doing it.

Kevin: Wow.

Danny: So two things that we really emphasize and teach people in ChiRunning is energy efficiency and injury prevention and those are our hallmarks. That is exactly what we are at. Not necessarily just with the lead athletes or anything. We'll take anybody who has never had a pair of running shoes on. We turn them into a fabulous runner.

Kevin: Wow! And when you say ChiRunning, I mean, you apply the same principles to walking too, so there are people on the call who just want to learn how to walk more efficiently, this applies.

Danny: Oh. It's across the board. Walking and running as long as you are bi-pedal we call it - yes, it definitely works for walkers too and the basic principles that I learned from Tai-chi I brought into running and walking. Running and walking even in themselves have technique that is different from each other but not that different.

Kevin: Let's talk about those principles. How were you able to go to that Tai-chi class and say "alright, this is what I am learning here" and how are you able to directly apply that?

Danny: There was my Tai-chi class, I'll tell you, the first three weeks I was there and that was the class that was twice a week for an hour and a half.

Kevin: Oh my!

Danny: First three weeks of class, all I did was stand there. The master had me just work on my posture. Then he got me into this correct posture form that Tai-chi uses. And then he had me stand there and then he went away and you know, and talk to other people in his class, they were about 30 people in the class and everybody was at different levels.

Kevin: OK.

Danny: And for twice a week, for an hour and a half, for three weeks all I did was stand there in class. Yes and I kept paying and am going "what am I paying this guy for" [laughter] But I will tell you, he was trained in the old way in the old school and this was how they started people and I tell you, I am so thankful that I learned, because in those three weeks I was standing there and there isn't a whole lot to do but focus on what you are doing.

Kevin: Right.

Danny: And it was fabulous. It really altered my approach to the alignment of my body. And then I had to work out getting that down while I was standing still, so that when I am moving with my running and walking, I could still feel that same stand every time my foot came down on the ground.

Kevin: Got it.

Danny: So when you are walking or running your weight is supported basically by one leg at a time. Every time you come down on your leg while you are running, your whole body weight is on that leg. When you are walking and you step forward, as you go on to that leg, your whole body weight is on one leg while you pick up your other foot. So that is the similarity between walking and running. So while you are on that one leg, it's very important to have your posture correct so that your weight is supported more by your structure than by your muscles. That's where your energy efficiency begins.

Kevin: And how do you feel that posture? So how would I feel that I am in proper alignment?

Danny: Well, one way to be able to feel is - - it's interesting because what you are looking for in a posture stand, in a correct posture stand, is if you are standing beside a full length mirror you'd want to stand in a way that you could see that your shoulders, your hip bones and your ankles formed a perfectly perpendicular line and they were in line with each other.

Kevin: OK.

Danny: Most people stand with their hips a little bit forward, I would say 75 percent of all people in the United States and I would say [laughs] 10 percent of people outside. We have lousy posture. And our hips are too far forward as we are just standing there because we slouch a lot and things and so I would suggest, to start people up with basic posture. Stand on your two feet have them about hip-width apart, and you want to not lock your knees, it's a big mistake.

Kevin: OK, and then.

Danny: Stand on your legs so stand on your two feet, feel the balance on your two legs. So one leg isn't holding more weight than the other and then you want to balance it so that you don't feel the front of your feet more than you heel. So you balance that way. And then you also want to balance inside to outside on your feet. So you are not a pronater caving in on the inside and you are not bowlegged when you weight is all on the outside.

Kevin: Got you.

Danny: You want to really create balance from the bottoms of your feet in all three directions, side to side, inside to outside and front to back. Once your legs are aligned, then you want to straighten up your upper spine, you know, where you are not hunched over, just want to kind of straighten up a little bit to where you are not pulling your shoulders back, it's like how the marines do it that's really not correct. You know, you just want to straighten your spine a little. Then I just have people lift up, put their hand up under their collar bone and kind of lift up their collar bone. Well this helps you breathe easier and helps you align your spine better. And then the other thing they do like in the yoga class is just, links on the back of your neck pretend like you are trying to really make the back of your neck longer and this will naturally drop your chin in a comfortable way. Then once you get your legs kind of aligned, and your upper body aligned, what you want to do is look down and see if you can see your shoe laces and if you can't see your shoe laces, then your hips are too far forward or you need to quit drinking beer.

Kevin: [laughs]

Danny: And so what you want to do is if you can't see your shoes laces, put your two fingers on your upper hip bones, they are not really your hip bones, they are your aliac crest, your pointers, put your two fingers on that and just move your pelvis to the rear so that you can see your shoe laces.

Kevin: Got you.

Danny: And if you do that and look into this side view, the rear view mirror at the same time you will be able to see that actually you are standing in a straight line, even if thought it might feel like you are y bent over at the waist a little bit. You are actually straight. And when you get into this where your feet are balanced and your posture is perfectly straight, you don't feel any work going on in your body at all. Its like, it's hard to explain, I don't feel any muscles. When I was doing this three weeks of standing there, I could stand there and just about fallen asleep.

Kevin: Wow.

Danny: Yeah, you just don't feel your body. It doesn't ache, your back doesn't hurt, your knees don't hurt, you find this balance point where you don't feel a thing.
About the Author
To read the rest of this transcript as well as access The Fountain of Youth World Summit experts just like Danny Dreyer please click here! Kevin Gianni is an internationally recognized health advocate, author & film consultant. He has helped thousands of people take control of their own health naturally. For more information visit raw food diets and holistic nutrition.
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