Bent-knee running, up-and-down movement of the body is minimized

Straight-Legged Running (Pole Vaulting)

Moving Forward

Stiff-legged running, body moves up-and-down excessively (remember, the goal of running is to move forward, not up and down)

Stiff-legged running, body moves up-and-down excessively (remember, the goal of running is to move forward, not up and down)

As I say often, moving the body forward is the ultimate goal of running. When a runner doesn’t bend their legs, as the legs move under the body, and then behind the body (or in front of the body, and then under the body), the body necessarily moves up and down.

A straight-leg swinging forward requires that we launch the body even higher, so the foot can clear the ground as we swing the leg forward. ..you laugh, but I’ve seen many people run this way. It’s like they can’t bend their knees, and maybe they can’t, but most likely because when they could, the refused to. And so, the ability unused, becomes lost.

Varying Leg Length

By bending the knees, we can alter the effective length of the legs as they pass under our body, and stretch out behind the body, thus minimize the amount of up and down movement of the body itself, so we can use our energy to move forward (instead of bouncing up-and-down).

Find Your Springs

Bent-knee running, up-and-down movement of the body is minimized

Bent-knee running, up-and-down movement of the body is minimized

If you stand up straight, and then lower your torso by bending your knees, you’ll find your “sweet spot”, this is the point at which your natural springs kick in, and as you’re bending your knees it will feel like if you want to go lower, you’ll need to force yourself lower… But don’t, it is this point that your natural springs kick in, and it is those natural springs (made up of your bones, joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, etc.) which help propel us forward with very little conscious effort (as long as we land with our body moving over and in front of our supporting foot … and of course with our knee already bending as we land.

Videos

Real Barefoot Running Bent Knee Examples

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2 comments on “Straight-Legged Running (Pole Vaulting)

  1. The video of you on the treadmill is helpful! I loved your book and have been barefooting almost exclusively since I was halfway through it (except for the snowy KC winter). I often use my sense of sight — my vision of whether the ground is bouncing up & down — as a gauge of whether I am bending my legs enough. I am up to 5 laps on the nicely-paved 1.45 mile loop around a local park (running in the evening when the pavement has cooled off). But I ran 4.5 on the warm, rough streets yesterday and ended up with some minor blisters. So I know I still have some work to do on my form. Thanks for everything and hope to meet you someday! Barefoot Matt in KC.

  2. Pingback: Lisbonne | My Trail to San Francisco

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