Customer Review

32 of 41 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Buyer Beware, December 14, 2011
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This review is from: ChiRunning: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless, Injury-Free Running (Paperback)
The timing of the first publication of ChiRunning is important. Dr. Romanov, a Russian sports scientist and Olympic coach, published "Pose Running" in 2002 (he had been teaching the technique in clinics and on DVD's for years before that). Dreyer's 2004 "ChiRunning" technique is not far from being a dead ringer for the technique published two years earlier by Romanov. Hence, the claim that ChiRunning is a "ground breaking" technique is, quite simply, false (Romanov himself began by analyzing the techniques of world class runners, and so he doesn't boast of being a ground breaker). If a book begins with false claims, buyer beware. Dreyer has tweaked Romanov's technique in a couple of important ways. Romanov advocates landing on the ball of the foot, while Dreyer advocates landing on the midfoot. Dreyer doesn't, however, explain what the "midfoot" is. Is it the arch of the foot? If so, how does one land first on the arch of the foot? The toes, ball, or heel of the foot have a nasty habit of preventing an arch-first strike unless the runner lands on the outside of the foot (known as "supination") or the inside of the foot ("pronation"), which not even Dreyer recommends. Or when Dreyer refers to the midfoot, does he really just mean the ball of the foot? If so, he is once again plagiarizing Romanov. A "certified" ChiRunning instructor has an online video and tries to deal with this embarrassing ambiguity by explaining that landing on the midfoot is really just another way of describing landing on the "whole" foot simultaneously. If so, why didn't Dreyer just say so about something as important as how the foot strikes the ground while running? It wouldn't be the most efficient way to run, but at least there would be some clarity about what is being recommended in a 320 page book that is long on fluff and short on practical detail (an online video of Dreyer running in a race, as opposed to the carefully staged photos in the book, shows him landing heel first). ChiRunning also omits a critical element of the Romanov technique that is critical to learning to run in an efficient way (I tried Dreyer's method before happening upon Romanov's book and am hence speaking from personal experience). Romanov's book includes extensive, easy to understand and follow drills to learn how to run correctly. ChiRunning, on the other hand, devotes only a few pages to recommendations such as rotating your pelvis from your "pivot point;" i.e., the T12-L1 vertebral level of the spine. The T12-L1 vertebral level is not a Tai Chi concept. And try looking anywhere to find support from a doctor, physical therapist, professor of anatomy, or anyone other than Mr. Dreyer that the pelvis rotates from one particular part of the spine or that T12-L1 plays a unique and "pivotal" role in the spine, let alone pelvic rotation. Dreyer, a carpenter, doesn't provide any references for his claim. And even if such a pivot point existed, his recommendation would be useless. When spine surgeons perform surgery, they use X-rays to count the spinal vertebrae to make sure they are operating at the correct level. If a spine surgeon needs an X-ray to be confident of being at a particular spinal level even though the surgeon can look at an anesthetized patient's naked back and feel the vertebrae, what chance does an ordinary runner have of concentrating on one out of 17 thoracic and lumbar vertebral levels that the runner can't see or feel? If you are mistakenly concentrating on rotating your pelvis from one level above or below T12-L1, is that going to set you back because your mental gaze has missed the "pivot" point? Dreyer has another exercise in which you place fingers near your collarbone and on your lower back to "lengthen" your spine. If a spine could be lengthened so simply, there would be millions of kids aspiring to life in the NBA walking around with their fingers on their collarbones and lower backs trying to lengthen their spines. What Dreyer recommends is just a gimmick for adjusting a person's posture, and it has no practical value for running. If you doubt that, try running the same distance with and without "lengthening" your spine before you set out (not even Dreyer recommends the lengthening procedure while running) and compare your times and exertion levels. I mention these examples because they expose Dreyer's utter lack of expertise or even basic understanding regarding the anatomy and mechanics of the human body (he talks at one point about the medial meniscus tendon; he probably means the medial collateral ligament, because there is no medial meniscus tendon, but with Dreyer you never know). In 2002 Terry Laughlin, a swimming coach, published a fine book on swimming that includes several yoga concepts (Laughlin had been conducting clinics for years prior to that). Dreyer admits that he tried, in part, to pattern ChiRunning after Laughlin's approach. That included starting ChiRunning clinics and copying various words and phrases Laughlin uses in his book, such as "effortless" and using different "gears." Is it possible that Dreyer read Romanov's highly technical, detailed Pose Running, read Laughlin's practical swimming book that includes yoga references, and decided that he could market Romanov's technique by sprinkling in some Tai Chi (if you want to learn Tai Chi, you will need to look elsewhere than ChiRunning) and claiming it as Dreyer's own revolutionary and ground breaking method? If so, it appears to have been a highly profitable marketing ploy and expropriation of another person's work. But buyer beware. And beware the many five star reviews. There are marketing companies that will write positive reviews for products. There are also a lot of "certified" ChiRunning instructors and this is, after all, big business, not a revolutionary new way of running.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 18, 2012 7:14:35 PM PST
Azuleelan says:
Spaces in between parragraphs, anyone?

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 15, 2012 3:39:09 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Jun 15, 2012 3:40:26 PM PDT]
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