Hello folks! The idea of knee drive has become a thing of curiosity for me. Eric talks a lot about forward knee drive, and when I see someone's knees go forward, I also see them go up. So what I am most curious about is the feeling, not the actuality: is there any difference between "thinking" about driving the knee forward and driving the knee up? When I run in place, my knees are going forward, and to do that, I am also lifting my knees. I find it confusing to think of both ideas as different, and holding one or the other as a mental cue during running is something I often find myself doing. Eric mentions "driving the knees forward" quite a bit.
Hopefully Eric could respond to this, as he is the first one I ever heard refer to forward knee drive. One thing that keeps me thinking about it so much is the runners I see every day on the running trail that goes in front of my house. Most of the runner's feet go back behind them, but I rarely see the knees going forward of the other knee, let alone up. Am I just not seeing things correctly, or do the majority of runners not drive their knees forward (or up)? Is this wrong running technique or just inefficient? Is it physically beneficial for people to run this way (if they aren't lifting or driving their knees)?
So, if you read this post, my main question is whether it is okay to think of "driving the knee forward" the same as thinking of "lifting the knee"?
My secondary question is: If the amount of either of these things is equal to stride length, and you don't work on improving your "knee drive forward," or "knee drive up;" then does that mean you aren't getting as much benefit as you could from running? Most people here seem to be dedicated to running so much so that this question may be moot; but I am thinking about my family members,friends, and relatives who constantly ask me about running.
Thanks for any input, comments, suggestions, interpretations.
Hey John - good stuff here. I constantly refer to driving the knee forward so runners create a visual in their head and so they do not think to just lift the knee/leg. This is a coaching point.
Most runners, as you are seeing, do not drive the knee - only focusing on pushing back. This shuts the glutes and core off and you losing stability - creating tightness and lack of potential speed range of motion. The knee drive works hand in hand with the stance leg. Note my reference to the bow and arrow analogy in The Cool Impossible.
Our speed/power and distance per stride is directly affected by our knee height and the power we generate into the ground with our stance leg. The angle of that stance leg is directly relational to the power/speed you are generating. The steeper the angle of that stance leg, the slower you are going and the lower the knee height. And conversely, the more power you are generating, the lower your stance leg angle should be and higher knee. This power is what propels your forward, versus more up and down.
It is the angle of your body that makes the knee drive more forward, when running - versus up and down like running in place. By also referring to a knee "drive", this coaching point helps runners open up at the hips and lead with the hips - not just leaning as some ways are taught.
Another very important piece in all of this is the stability that is created for your stance leg, primarily in your glute medius. And the knee drive helps set the stance leg up for this stability. And a big part of the strength training/foot strength philosophy. Form and strength go hand in hand here.
A lot goes into this, so will leave it there for now.