By Jackie Rainford Corcoran
Explore Big Sky Health Columnist

According to a 2011 study by the Harvard University Department of Athletics, “…There is a general agreement that running injury rates are unacceptably high.” They cite 30-75 percent of endurance runners are in-jured every year, the broad range due to “the different methods used to define and measure injuries.”

Key strategies to prevent running injuries are: Eat healthy, anti-inflammatory foods; don’t do too much too soon; stay hydrated; correct muscle imbalances; always warm up; allow your body to recover; and, above all, have good technique. Some may ask, “What is running technique? Kids run without being taught proper technique all the time.” That’s true, but adults can pick up odd movement patterns that cause injury.

Enter Damian Stoy, founder of Bozeman’s Wholistic Running. Stoy loved to run but was
plagued by injuries – mostly in his knees – and was advised by several doctors to give up running for good. Fortunately, a friend insisted he visit with Danny Dreyer in Asheville, N.C. to explore ChiRunning. That was 10 years ago and Stoy has since gone on to run more than 30 ultra marathons – 50K, 50-mile and 100-mile races – winning eight, and remains injury free.

The ChiRunning technique teaches proper body alignment, muscle recruitment, foot strike, breathing, warm ups and cool downs. The concept of ChiRunning was introduced after founder Danny Dreyer studied with T’ai Chi master Zhu Xilin in 1997. Behind the biomechanics is a philosophical belief that the runner can connect with their essential nature, allowing energy to flow easily between themselves and the terrain.

After realizing his own success, Stoy became a certified ChiRunning instructor and started Wholistic Running four years ago. After attending several of Stoy’s classes, my running style has changed drastically and I no longer step out of bed gingerly due to aching feet and hips, thanks to his natural and gifted approach to teaching.

A personal training client of mine in her 60s found similar success, and said that she had missed running but associated it with low back and knee pain. I asked her to consult with Stoy two years ago and since then, she’s met with Stoy weekly and recently ran nine miles on hilly terrain. When I asked how her knees felt, she re-plied, “What knees?”

Stoy’s girlfriend of three years, Lindsey Hintz, has adopted his style and in spite of the many foot issues she used to have, has won four consecutive races this summer including the Spokane River Run 25K, The Mon-tana Governor’s Cup 10K, the Big Sky State Games 5K and the Bozeman Classic 10K.

If you’re a new runner or a seasoned veteran who struggles with chronic aches and pains, or you want to im-prove your personal records, I suggest looking into ChiRunning. You can start by contacting Stoy who teach-es private and group lessons in Bozeman and around the country. Your body will thank you. Happy trails!

For more information on ChiRunning, check out the book “ChiRunning: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless, Injury-Free Running,” by Danny and Katherine Dreyer, or contact Damian Stoy at wholisticrunning.com.

Jackie Rainford Corcoran is an IIN Certified Holistic Health Coach, a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, public speaker and health activist. Contact her at jackie@thetahealth.org, or find more at thetahealth.org.