POSE IN PRESS A collection of articles about Pose Method and Dr.Romanov in various publications.
GUARDIAN UNLIMITED (UK)
Thursday August 5, 2004
The gait way to success
A new technique could shift every runner's stance. Anne Dollery investigates : Further reading
Tim Noakes, author of classic runner's manual The Lore of Running, is one of the world's most respected researchers in the field of sports medicine and sports science. One can only imagine what he thought when he was contacted by a Florida-based Russian called Nicholas Romanov, who said he would like to teach him a few things about the biomechanics of running.
In the running world, it is generally accepted that we don't need to learn to run; we each have our own natural running style which is right for us. But the sports scientist and athletics coach Romanov was claiming to have discovered the one true style of perfect running, which would enable all runners of all abilities to run faster over any distance. And if that wasn't enough, he was claiming that "Pose" method he has been developing since the 1970s would drastically reduce the unacceptably high rate of injury among runners.
Now, Romanov's controversial ideas are already gaining acceptance: with a proven success rate for those who have adopted it, including Britain's Tim Don and Andrew Johns and the whole United States triathlon team.
Under the method, the runner leans forward, keeping the head, shoulders, buttocks and the support foot in a straight line, with the knee slightly bent and the weight of the body on the ball of the support foot - the heel is slightly raised or lightly touching the ground. In this position, the runner's centre of mass is directly above his supporting foot. To move forward, the runner falls forward, simultaneously lifting the support foot by flexing the knee rather than pushing away from the ground as in normal running. At the same time, the runner allows gravity to return the other foot lightly to the ground, with the weight of the body on the ball of the foot. A casual observer would be more likely to hear rather than see a difference - tap, tap, tap replaces thud, thud, thud.
After conducting initial biomechanical analysis in his Institute of Sports Science in Cape Town, Noakes invited Romanov back for a more in-depth study, and this time Romanov brought with him Graham Fletcher, the British triathlon team's coach. Romanov spent a week teaching his Pose method to a group of 20 runners of varying ages and abilities, recruited from local running clubs. At the end of the week, the biomechanics of the volunteers were analysed and, sure enough, when they ran using the Pose method, the same distinct biomechanical characteristics emerged.
Two things stood out when Pose running was compared with other styles: the ankle angle on landing was neutral, and the load on the knee was significantly reduced. This last finding was particularly exciting, as one of the researchers, Regan Arendse, had just completed his PhD comparing the biomechanics of injured and non-injured runners, and had found that there was an increased load on the knee in the injured runners. Romanov now had some evidence to back his claim that the Pose method could help to prevent injury.
The study also raised the intriguing possibility that the Pose method might be useful in treating people who were already injured. A PhD student on the Noakes team, Ross Tucker, was trained as a Pose coach, and he worked with several injured athletes, teaching them the technique. One was an 800m athlete with shin splints that were not responding to any of the usual treatments, including rest. Four weeks later he was able to run without pain. "It was a wonderful success," says Tucker. "We were cock-a-hoop."
But not everyone was so lucky. Some injuries did not respond to the Pose method, and two of the volunteers on the original study went on to develop injuries they had never had before. Tucker believes that this may have more to do with the way the runners were applying the technique, rather than a problem with the technique itself. "Pose is based on certain drills which teach you to run using the technique. If you don't do those, you unlearn the technique. You end up with a combination of your old running style and Pose, and that could increase the risk of injury.
"There are limitations with any technique - not everyone will become a great dancer or a black belt in karate."
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