Running Form and Shoes - Chi Running

Running Form and Shoes

Posted by Ryan Miller on Tue Nov 17th, 2009, 6 comments

Before you start running it is likely you strap on a pair of running shoes that contain a number of features designed to enhance your performance and help keep you injury free. Every feature that is built into a running shoe already exists in your body in varying degrees. Practicing your ChiRunning form will help maximize these features.

Lets take a look at the features of running shoes, how they exist in your body, and how ChiRunning will help you develop these features.

1. Cushioning – The first feature running shoes contain is cushioning. Cushioning is designed to help lessen the impact running can cause on the body. As you start running with good form, utilizing a midfoot strike your body will be able to absorb impact through the arch of the foot, rotation of the pelvis, excellent posture, and relaxed muscles. Many ChiRunners start running with thick, heavily cushioned shoes and gradually progress to very minimal shoes. Their bodies become much better at absorbing the impact of the road. Many instructors are even able to practice barefoot running.

2. Stability – The next feature of running shoes is stability, which takes the form of medial posts. The idea behind this is preventing excessive pronation to help keep your body in alignment. With ChiRunning, excellent posture, a level pelvis and a focused mind become the stability. Just by leveling the pelvis you can gradually work to strengthen your arch and gain more stability in your running practice.

3. Flexibility – Running shoes have varying degrees of flexibility.  Runners practicing power running often use a very stiff shoe.  They are using the muscles of the lower legs which become very stiff. A stiff running may aid the toe off motion of power running, but it is not ideal for ChiRunning.  As you practice your running form, you will gradually progress to a more flexible shoe that will work in harmony with your body.

4. Comfort – Power running can cause so much physical and emotional trauma on the body, that for many power runners their shoes are the most comfortable thing on their body. ChiRunning is a holistic practice similar to Yoga. This involves becoming more comfortable in your body.  As you practice ChiRunning you will become more comfortable with your body. You will begin to look inside your body for a deep sense of comfort, rather than searching externally for a product to make you feel comfortable.

5. Aesthetics – Lets face it, people want to look good. If a shoe doesn’t look good many people will not wear it. Conversely, if a shoe looks great, people will wear it, whether the features it contains are in line with their needs or not. As you practice ChiRunning your stride will become more graceful and you will begin to move through life with a sense of ease and joy. In the shoe industry they talk about “design language,” similar to “body language.” Practicing ChiRunning will improve your posture and relaxation, so your body language will tell people you are relaxed, comfortable and stable.

The takeaway from this post is to asses your features.  Ask yourself these questions:

How soft is my foot strike?

How stable do I feel when running?

How flexible am I?

How comfortable am I with my body?

What does my body language say to myself and to others?

If you have any questions about running shoes I would be happy to help.



  • midfoot strike,
  • barefoot running,
  • running shoes,
  • running form,
  • yoga,
  • holistic practice,
  • power running,
  • injury free running,
  • cushioning running shoes,
  • running shoe flexibility,
  • stability running shoes

6 CommentsLeave a comment below

Matthew Germain Nov 18th, 2009 09:19am

Aesthetics! That is awesome you included that! Let’s face it, who does not like to look good. Running helps us be attractive in so many ways

Thanks for the information.  Since I am not quite ready for barefoot running I am not sure what to do.  Do you have a recommendation for couple of shoes, other than racing flats that I should check out?

Thank you.


Kirk, I got myself some rubber surf shoes. It gives enough protection, are really light and you feel a lot but not too much.  Really good when you want to know if you land correctly or not.  I got mine at Decathlon UK for £7.  Look for aqua shoes.

In order to answer I would need to know more about where you are currently at in your running practice. What shoes are you currently running in? How do they feel and perform for you? Also, how much cushioning, stability and flexibility to you currently feel you have in your body? Do you feel light and have a soft foot strike when you run, or do you feel a lot of impact? The first step is to stay in your current shoes (if they feel good to you) and work on form. As your form progresses you can step into a more minimal shoe, but only do so gradually. As far as specific shoes, it is hard to say, since I don’t know where you are currently at.
You can reply here or send me an email and we can figure out a good shoe for you.

With body sensing in mind Vibram Five Fingers shoes have increased my awareness of my feet while running.  The soles protect my feet while running and feel like supple gloves when lying around.  People ask how I deal with stepping on rocks or other hazardous debris.  I respond by saying “I don’t”.  It is easier than you might think.

Skylon 11: Is a minimal running shoe in your opinion?

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Just wanted to say that after reading Chi Running and trying it for a week, I felt like it finally "clicked", and I cannot even remember how to run the old way (which I did faithfully for over 20 years). 

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