Thursday, February 18, 2010

Pose Theory - Pro and Con

What I have presented in this blog so far are the basic elements of Pose Running Technique, as well as the basic theory behind the technique. Dr. Romanov was the first person to develop a theoretical model of running based on scientific research. Before him, there was no scientific model of running that described exactly what constituted good and bad running technique. Unfortunately, being first does not necessarily make the theory correct, or complete. On these points, only time will tell as more research is done.  So it is important to note that Dr. Romanov’s theories are not universally accepted in the Biomechanics and Kinesiology communities, and in the interests of fairness, I want give an overview of what is and is not accepted to the best of my knowledge.

The Technique:
For the most part, the technique seems to be widely accepted. Some people have minor quibbles with it, but almost everything I've read indicates that most “experts” agree that the technique is basically sound.  Good news for the running community, at least runners can be reassured that if they learn Pose Running Technique it's not going to be a waist of time and effort.

The Training Methods:
There is more criticism of the training methods. In my opinion, this has a lot to do with the fact that people have different styles of learning. Pose training relies heavily on two methods of teaching, drills for practice, physical development and tactile feedback, and video for visual feedback. In my experience, most people respond much better to the visual feedback, as long as they understand what to look for while analyzing the video.

Pose Theory:
There is much more criticism of the underlying theory of Pose Running. Some of the criticism seems to be more personal than scientific, but there are critics out there who have made some very good points. So who's correct? I don't know. I'll leave it to the scientific process to shake out the best theoretical model for running. Obviously I'm biased towards Pose Theory, but I'm not going to turn it into a religion.

One of the Detractors:
I've come across an interesting blog by someone who is critical of Pose theory. Here is the link - Canute's Efficient Running Site. This guy is definitely very smart and has done his homework. I'm very impressed with level detail in his arguments. Unfortunately, I have not had time enough to completely study his hypothesis, and the supporting studies. As a result, I don't know how much merit his arguments have. Even if they are well founded, I'm not in position to determine how well his ideas and/or Dr. Romanov's will continue to predict the results of new research

There are some things about this blog I don't like.
  • First, as far as I can tell, he never identifies who he is, or what his background and his credentials might be. I don't know if he has a Ph.D. in Biomechanics or if he is just a talented amateur. Not that his identity and credentials would support or detract from his hypothesis, I just don't like the fact that he is anonymously attacking someone else's work.
  • Second, my exchanges with him have been rather unsatisfying. When I have asked him to elaborate on some of his statements, I don’t get much of a response. He’s very happy to restate what he said before, and respond to opinions, but it is hard to get him to explain things in more detail. This may be due to us having different styles of communication, and him not understanding what I was looking for in his answers, so I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.


  1. Ken,
    Thanks for the link to my site.
    I am sorry if I have not answered your questions adequately. I have done my best to do so. I would be quite happy if you re-formulated them or even perhaps simply state which issues you do consider I have dealt with adequately, and I will make another attempt to respond, hopefully in a more satisfactory manner.

    As for the notion that I am attacking Pose, that is only part of the story. I have repeatedly posted many positive things about Pose over the past two years because I believe Pose has many positive features, despite the questionable biomechanics. I did a post early in Febraury explicitly describing what I regarded as the positive features of Pose. However I am critical of the fact that official Pose teaching has not acknowledged the problem of the increased stress at the ankle that was demonstrated in the Capetown study, and has been illustrated by numerous complaints of Achilles and calf problems in Pose beginners. As Helen (a Pose runner) pointed out to you in her response to your comments on my blog, even the Pose Triathlon book explicitly blames the student for this problem which is inherent in Pose. The thing that most disappoints me is that problem can be dealt with fairly easily. Good Pose coaches know about this and are prepared to discuss it in private but not in public.
    Best wishes

  2. Canute,

    Since you brought it up, I think my use of the word "attacking" was definitely too strong. Thanks for calling me on it. A better word would have been “critiquing”. I also believe that some of your critiques have merit. I do know that you have said many positive things about Pose, but praising someone else's work anonymously does not bother me.

    Eventually I intend to contact you with follow-ups to my questions. However, as I indicated in my post, I suspect that we were at times not looking at things from the same "point of reference". So before I do follow-up, I think I should take the time to try to fully study your hypothesis. That will probably allow for more productive communication. In any case, I think you definitely have some very interesting ideas, and I would really like to explore them more fully.