ChiRunning focuses on body alignment to eliminate pain

Describing ChiRunning takes several books, DVDs, a website and countless testimonials. But the crux is this: Running doesn't have to hurt.

"When I tell people about ChiRunning, they tell me their aches and pains," says Ed Paramo of Dallas, a certified instructor in teaching the technique.

He understands. He didn't run for many years because he figured it would only exacerbate the pain in his thrice-operated-on knee. But once he started ChiRunning, which combines the mental aspects of tai chi with the principle of body alignment, his pain all but disappeared. Chi also stresses using your core muscles more than your legs to propel you forward.

Here are a few key words to help understand and implement ChiRunning.

"When your posture's aligned correctly, you'll be able to stand, walk, run and do stuff you weren't able to do for a long time," Paramo says. "A lot of aches and pains go away."

"From your shoulders to your ankles, you're looking for a straight line, a column," he says. "You don't want your butt sticking too far out or too far in. Your pelvis engages your abs and that's what helps posture. Tuck in your shirt to see if it's level, like a chili bowl. You don't want to spill your chili. If you do, your butt's sticking out and that aggravates your lower back."

Imagine running down a hill. It doesn't take much effort, does it? You fall forward and you're running. "Use that lean to propel you forward all the time," Paramo says. "When it's pushing you, it's easier on your joints because your joints are just kind of falling. You won't have all that weight on your leg. It will be safer for your body and not as much wear and tear on your joints."

Making it work:

Practice by leaning forward and feeling your foot stop your fall. That's how every running step should be, he says.

Foot strike.

You need to hit the pavement with your midfoot, not on your toes or heels, he says. "Most people have knee pains because they're landing on their toes."

Making it work:

Look at the soles of your shoes. "Are your shoes worn more on the right, on the left? If it's on the right, you're aggravating your knee." Adjust the way your foot hits the ground. Realize it takes practice, he says.

Stride length.

When you take too big a step, you risk getting shinsplints, Paramo says. "One woman who was training for a marathon took my class. She was in tears because her knee hurt when she'd run up hills. I watched her and told her to shorten her stride. She ran up the hill and was jumping with joy with her friends because her knee wasn't hurting."

Making it work:

Be aware if your knees and ankles hurt when you run. Try taking smaller steps, he says. "Let gravity propel you forward and all you're doing is picking up your heel and letting your foot come up behind you."

For more information on ChiRunning, go to

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