This past Sunday I signed up to go to a 3 hour session on the barefoot/POSE running technique at Crossfit Boston done by Upstream Fitness.
I have been wanting to go to a barefoot/POSE workshop for a while because, to be honest, my run has always been a little off. I almost always run heel-to-toe, except when I sprint. I run heel-to-toe for distance, and when my body gets tired.
I need to work on my quickness and my speed if I want to be a wide-receiver; quickness and speed come from your muscles fibers being trained and ready to fire. To get my muscles fibers to fire more often I had a feeling I needed to get up on my toes. When you are on your heels you are at rest but when you get up on the balls of your feet, suddenly your body has potential force for quick movements. Barefoot/POSE running is all about changing where your foot strikes, how long your foot is on the ground, and what you can do to harness potential forces like gravity.
Here is my before and after footage from the workshop:
You can see in my video, that there was a pretty noticeable difference between my first and my second clip. I changed my heel strike to a ball strike, and I was able to get a much better "pull," getting my foot off the ground and move forward fast.
Basically Barefoot/POSE technique is based around the concept that there are three "poses," POSE-FALL-PULL. Pose is about posture; fall is about getting a slight lean forward in your run to use gravity; and finally the pull is about getting your foot off the ground fast. Dr. Romanov and the Pose Tech site have an amazing amount of resources and videos to help you get started and learn more about POSE.
This past Friday I used POSE for the first time in a Crossfit workout. We were doing as many rounds as possible (AMRAP) of a Workout of the Day (WOD) that incorporated 200m sprints. As soon as I saw the workout I promised myself that I would hold my POSE technique, pulling my feet off the ground as quickly as possible. I did and it felt good.
Re-learning your run is not quick; actually I have a feeling it is going to be kind of a drag. That said, I think there are a couple obvious upsides:
1. Speed... when I hold my POSE technique I am faster without question
2. Strength... my POSE activates my glutes, hamstrings and abs to help me run, it disperses the work and with that my fatigue
3. Recovery... one of the keys to the Barefoot/POSE running technique is that bounce you get from bouncing off of the balls of your feet. That "bounce" lessens the pressure on your joints, reducing injuries and recovery time.
That bounce is supposed to happen and it needs to be there; as a test, try jumping, or jump roping taking off and landing on your heels; it's just not supposed to happen.
Finally, when you run barefoot in the grass it feels so nice! I could not believe how freeing it felt to run in wet soft grass in my bare feet. Barefoot running and the POSE technique take a lot of getting used to, and you need to ease into it. It is a pretty big shock for your feet to be free of their cushioned insoles.
Take it slow, kick those shoes off your shoes and give Barefoot/POSE a chance!