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Strike a Pose

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Elite Pose coach Tracy Peal at Malvern Prep. (Photo by Shane McCauley)A chance viewing of a DVD changed Tracy Peal’s life. As the triathlon coach watched the runner jumping and hopping in the instructional segment, he wondered about his technique. “It was definitely a watershed moment,” says Peal. “I couldn’t grasp how this related to running, so I did the next best thing: I invited the runner in the film to come and explain his technique to me in person.”

The technique in question was the Pose Method, and the runner in the film was Nicholas S. Romanov, its creator. He came to the Delaware Valley clinic that Peal, a certified strength and conditioning coach, hosted in the fall of 2005. Inspired by Romanov’s teachings, Peal has been a staunch supporter of the methodology ever since.

“Dr. R is responsible for the success I’ve achieved as a speed coach and movement specialist,” says Peal, an assistant track coach at Malvern Preparatory School and the only elite Pose running instructor in the region.

Developed by Romanov in 1977 out of his research to find a better model of running to teach track and field students in Russia, the concept essentially refers to the positions, or “poses,” through which an athlete moves. “Within these frames of movements, there are specific poses that affect the creation and flow of energy. Identifying them is the critical element in understanding and performing efficient movement,” says Romanov, a former Olympic coach. “In running, there’s only one pose: the mid-stance, where the body is balanced on the ground—which is necessary in order to utilize gravity by falling forward.”

Dr. Todd Serinsky, of Westside Wellness Chiropractic in Wayne, offers a simpler definition. “If you want to know what the Pose method is in a nutshell, it’s running like a 4-year-old,” he says. “They basically fall forward, and they just pick up their feet and sort of tap, tap, tap—so they don’t fall flat on their face.”

Serinsky works with Peal in educating patients through presentations and clinics. “Not only does it not bother the knees, it actually seems to fix problems,” says Serinsky, a former state champion rower at Ithaca College.

Clinic participant Denise Dayton has been a runner for 30 years and a nationally ranked marathoner. “Something went wrong with my form,” she says. “Although I’ve only been with Tracy a short time, I do see signs of improvement.”

Last year, while watching his oldest son play basketball at a high school camp at Haverford College, Peal noticed Phil Martelli hobbling. The Saint Joseph’s University men’s basketball coach was complaining of plantar fasciitis, so Peal videotaped him running. He discovered a common error: landing harshly on the heels. Peal corrected his foot strike, and Martelli was able to run with minimal issues. “It was simple to follow and provided immediate relief,” says Martelli.
 

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Serinsky is hardly surprised. “My personal opinion is that you should absolutely not heel-strike when you run,” he says. “That’s one of the major contributors of plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, ankle issues and hip/back/knee problems.”

Peal also works with Lee S. Cohen, who consults for the Philadelphia Eagles and the Philadelphia 76ers, while maintaining sports medicine offices in Devon, Ridley Park and New Jersey. “I correct my patients’ biomechanics, and Tracy corrects their training mechanics,” says Cohen. “You’re working with gravity instead of against it.”

Since 2008, Peal has been working with sprinters and jumpers at Malvern Prep. “During my tenure, we’ve won two Inter-AC championships and finished third in the Pennsylvania Indoor Championships this past season,” he says.

Malvern Prep track coach Mike Koenig stands by the method, though he admits it requires practice. “We’ve had guys pick it up on the first day, and others who took a few months,” he says. “They barely look like they’re trying when they run, and yet they’re finishing ahead of their competitors who run traditionally.”

Converts include Malvern Prep junior Boomer Wallace, the state’s top hurdler. “It’s improved my times in many events,” he says.

Pose works for all types of athletes. Since working with Peal, Unionville High School junior Megan Cohan has changed the way she drives her energy upward off the volleyball court. “I don’t even strike the same parts of my foot that I used to,” says Cohan, who went to the Junior Olympic Championships this summer.

Serinsky concurs. “At the end of our second clinic last year, me and four other runners took off our shoes and ran barefoot around the track,” he says. “I’ve never felt so light on my feet.”

To learn more about the Pose Method, visit tracypealspeed.com.
 

The Pose Method: 18 Basics

1. Shift support from one leg to another.
2. Pull ankles straight up under hips.
3. Make support time short.
4. Retain support easily and effortlessly.
5. Keep body weight on the balls of your feet.
6. Don’t land with your heels.
7. Don’t move weight to toes.
8. Raise ankles when weight is on the balls of your feet.
9. Keep ankles loose but formed, like they’re in the neutral position.
10. Always keep knees bent.
11. Keep feet behind the vertical line going through your knees.
12. Don’t increase stride length or range of motion.
13. Keep knees and thighs relaxed and moving freely.
14. Don’t focus on landing, but on pulling.
15. Don’t point or land on toes.
16. Legs/feet should land by themselves, without conscious muscular activity.
17. Keep shoulders and hips along a single vertical line.
18. Arm performance is a natural balance for leg movement.

SOURCE: NICHOLAS ROMANOV
 

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