Good Running Tips on Leg Swing

If you want good running tips, I encourage all runners to check out Pose Running and Chi Running because they were a great learning resource for me that helped me tackle transitioning from heel strike to forefoot running easier.

Good Running Tips on Leg Swing

Good Running Tips on Leg Swing

Pose Running recommends quick removal of the foot from the ground by lifting the ankle of the support leg vertically with neither forward or backward direction.

  • The net result is a compact leg swing –leg swing activity is under the hips because the foot is brought up directly under the hips.

However, this type of leg swing is not seen in Ethiopian distance runners. They actually swing their legs similar to Chi Runnings’ recommendation of leg swing mechanics.

Pose vs Chi Running
Pose Running (left) recommends lifting the support leg from the ankle and bring your heel to your pelvis. Chi Running (right) suggests letting the foot float up posterior to the center of mass, making circular motions with your feet –this coincides with the leg swing mechanics of most Ethiopian distance runners

Chi Running recommends having “circular feet with wheels at the end of your legs” which is probably the most accurate description of how most Ethiopian runners swing their legs when they run.

  • For instance, if you watch closely and follow the flight path of Dibaba’s heel, you will notice that her heel traces an imaginary line, outlining the shape of a circle positioned behind her body.

This is in contrast to Pose’s recommended leg swing in which the feet pop up and down in a vertical line, no circular motions.

Forefoot Running Leg Swing
Most elite distance runners exhibit leg swing mechanics similar to that of Chi Running -the feet float up more behind the body, rather than directly underneath the pelvis.
  • According to Danny Dreyer of Chi Running “you want to create a motion more like circles with your feet. Pretend you have wheels instead of lower legs and you’ll be just fine.”

For me, I followed Chi Running to improve my leg swing mechanics. I find it feels more natural to let my leg swing more rearward, whereas with Pose, I was intentionally restricting my leg swing and found it harder to relax. “If your legs are relaxed and limp, you will never have to worry about common lower leg injuries like shin splints, Achilles tendonosis, metatarsal stress fractures, or calf pulls and when your legs are passive, it allows the recoil motion of your tendons to swing your leg for you”, Dreyer reported.

More From Run Forefoot:


Dreyer, D. (2012) Chi Marathon. New York, NY: First Touchdown.

Romanov, N. (2002). Pose Method of Running. Coral Gables, FL: PoseTech Press.

Bretta Riches

"I believe the forefoot strike is the engine of endurance running..."

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.
Bretta Riches

P.S. Don't forget to check out the Run Forefoot Facebook Page, it's a terrific place to ask questions about forefoot running, barefoot running and injury. I'm always happy to help!

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