According to Pose Running, you are supposed to lean from the ankle when forefoot running, but this has always been challenging for me because I end up leaning from the waist, which completely disrupts the kinetic chain of the body, making you less efficient. However, I noticed something peculiar about the forefoot running form of most Ethiopian runners –they run tall, but with their shoulders pulled back and their chest ‘puffed’ out. I tried doing this, and I feel like I was falling forward. Sticking my chest out as I ran felt like a weight pulling me forward and this helps me run with great forward momentum.
And, another benefits of ‘puffing’ out your chest is that it opens your airway nice and wide so you can breathe and let in more air.
Forefoot Running Tip: Puff Up Your Chest to Breathe and Accelerate
I noticed that Ethiopian runners who forefoot strike such as Haile Gebreselassie, Kenenisa Bekele, and Tirunesh Dibaba ‘puff up’ their chest when running, that is, they tend to stick their chest out while running. This may help in maintaining balance, a controlled pace, and acceleration.
The illustration below demonstrates this forefoot running tip better:
Notice the head of the Ethiopian runners is slightly tilted down, very slightly just to allow eye gaze to scan the ground. In fact many Ethiopian elite distance runners tend to scan the ground with their eyes more than staring straight ahead.
To begin running, when you push forward using your chest, the body tips forward and begins to ‘free-fall’ via gravity pulling you down which is then countered by an autonomic, reflexive brain function that uses the legs to keep the center of mass over the feet, and therefore, stops you from actually falling flat on your face.
When running, by pushing forward with your chest and not rapidly increasing your cadence to speed up, allows for a controlled fall and prevents over-leaning at the ankle or at the waist.
Expanding the chest cavity also increases oxygen intake as the rib cage, chest, and lungs are better able to expand.
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BSc Neurobiology; MSc Biomechanics candidate, ultra minimalist runner & founder of RunForefoot. I was a heel striker, always injured. I was inspired by the great Tirunesh Dibaba to try forefoot running. Now, I'm injury free. This is why I launched Run Forefoot, to advocate the health & performance benefits of forefoot running and to raise awareness on the dangers of heel striking, because the world needs to know.