One-footed cruising and surfy skogging

The surfy way to push a skateboard

Skogging (skate-jogging) is known as a style of skateboarding, where you constantly alternate your pushing leg in various ways. But there has always been one more outstanding characteristic to it: One-footed riding. Chris Yandall, the inventor of skogging was well known for his one-footed cruising style in between alternating his pushing legs. I think he was very likely the first who ever steered a skateboard using only one leg. If you look at how Steven Meketa performs his high kick skog, lifting one leg high up in front of the body before putting it down for the next kick, the influence of Yandall‘s one footed style is still very visible. This one-footed characteristic of skogging has always fascinated me. Although it appears quite weird at first, it emanates easiness and playfulness at the same time. But when previously performing my skogging workout, I always put a lot of emphasis on the transitions for alternating my pushing leg. This way I neglected the cruising aspect of skogging.

 

While skogging is good for riding long distances in an efficient way, it can also be a fun exercise while just cruising around with your board. So I wanted to create more variety in my workout and started to skog in a more surfy way with pumping and cruising parts between switching my stances. This led me back to the roots of skateboarding, to the surfy style of the early years, when surfers invented the skateboard to be able to surf on land. I watched the skogging videos of Chris Yandall and I realized, that somehow his style was very surfy, too. So I recently took more time to integrate one footed riding into my skogging and finally realized that one footed cruising while alternating the legs actually is the surfy way of moving with a skateboard by way of pushing.

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Dutch Ultraskate 2018 - Thoughts of a 100 mile skogger

Photo by Andre Abtmeyer
Photo by Andre Abtmeyer

My first participation at a 24 hour ultraskate just happened from the 7th to the 8th of july in Spaarndam, Netherlands. My personal goal was to skog at least 100 miles. In the end I reached a distance of 109 miles (176 km). Looking back it seems, to reach this 100 miles club was something almost everyone of the long distance enthusiasts at the dutch ultraskate 2018 could achieve easily. There were even a lot of people going more than 200 miles. Probably this is because people spend more attention to their setups and to proper training and preparation. Another reason could be that a lot of people are alternating their feet when pushing nowadays. So skogging might be a main factor, too. However, I have to face it: In the world of serious distance skateboarding, the distance I accomplished seems to be quite common these days (at least at an ultraskate) and remains only good enough to astonish an ordinary city cruising longboarder. So, of course my distance at the ultraskate will not be the main topic of this text.

 

I would rather like to talk about skogging: One main reason for my participation at the ultraskate was, to prove to myself that skogging is not just a good cruising exercise but that it can also be beneficial when riding for very long times. When I’m talking about skogging, I refer to full „pedidexterity“ style skogging, which means switching the stances and not only pushing mongo when alternating the legs. Of course I also pushed mongo at the ultraskate, but I regularly switched my stance as well, using a back to front slide transition I‘m calling the chi-skog. At first it might seem impracticable and time consuming to do this extra transitioning move, when you could just push mongo. But in reality it is all a question of muscle memory. When you always train to ride this way and you are getting used to it, it will happen effortlessly during your ride and be not disturbing anymore. Skogging like this can also have it‘s advantages compared to pushing mongo. When pushing mongo, you will have to balance a lot before getting your foot all the way back to the front of the board. With the chi-skog you just step out with your leg as when pushing mongo and just move your other foot on the deck a little bit to the front, giving the board an additional forward momentum.

Skogging this way allowed me to use my muscles, tendons and joints in both of my legs in an equal way. Together with the focus on a relaxed chiskogging style and relaxed „pedidextrous“ pumping (alternating between pumping in regular and goofy stance), I managed to keep a quite constant riding flow without putting too much stress on my body. Considering that I am in my forties, not being one of the youngest guys anymore and that I did not have any specific ultraskate preparation, except for three shorter rides of 40 to 50 km in the weeks before the event, I know that it is due to skogging in chipushing style that I could go beyond the 100 miles relatively easy at my first try. I also had time left to take some rests in between to eat something and decided, not to skog during the night, as I knew that I would easily reach my desired distance.

 

Another nice side effect was that I also experienced less muscle pain afterwards which also disappeared quickly in two days after the event. In fact the pain was located only in the groins and a little in the butt area as well, which where the parts of the body I engaged the most when chiskogging, because of swinging my legs from the area of the hips. If I would have trained this strain more specifically before the event and if I would have kept up the chiskogging style more accurately throughout the whole time of my ride, I’m sure the pain could have still been minimized or even avoided entirely. 

Photo by Stéphane Bisson
Photo by Stéphane Bisson

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To optimize the way you walk will benefit the way you push!

For me the bad thing about winter is that I don’t skate as much as I would like to. But what I found out the recent months is, that even if you cannot skate due to bad weather conditions, you can still always train and prepare yourself for distance skateboarding in a very simple way: by focusing on the proper walking technique.

 

So how will this work and what is the proper way to walk? Amongst barefoot enthusiasts and fitness coaches there are different opinions on what is the best and most natural way to walk. Some propagate the so called fore-foot walk, where you first let the balls of your foot touch the ground before putting the rest of it down. Although this is a method widely used when running, it is doubted to be as efficient for the purpose of walking. Researches indicate that fore-foot walking is not the natural way to walk for a human being. The other extreme is to walk using a heel-strike. This is the most common way to walk, as we all usually put down our heels first before completing a step. But an over exaggerated heel-strike (as provoked by our cushioned shoes with their raised heels) can put too much burden on the knees and back on longer walks. Thus the best way to walk seems to be the method of mid-foot landing, where the whole foot is brought down to the ground almost at once while distributing the body weight over the center of the foot sole.


In terms of yin and yang this seems to be the perfect symbiosis of the two other extremes (as both have their advantages and disadvantages) and a natural and efficient way to walk on longer distances. This method of mid-foot landing is also part of ChiWalking as described in the book „ChiWalking - Fitness walking for lifelong health and energy“ by Danny and Katherine Dreyer. To practice ChiWalking is a great way to benefit ChiPushing as both have a lot in common; starting with the alignment of the spine and body and continuing with how to move your legs in the correct and relaxed way.

 

Of course you could also train for distance pushing by practicing ChiRunning. But the motions when walking are slower which will make it a lot easier to control the correct way to move the legs. In addition you don’t have to prepare yourself by changing your clothes like when going for a run. But the best thing is: walking as a necessary part of our life can be done almost everywhere and anytime throughout the day.

 

How is it done? The correct way to perform mid-foot landing is to let the feet touch the ground directly beneath your body’s center of gravity. This is the main difference compared to heel-landing where you would extend your legs in front of the body to let the heels touch the ground outside of the body’s center of gravity. For proper mid-foot walking it is necessary to extend the legs more to the rear than to the front. Although as a natural part of balanced walking every step will also let your legs reach out to the front a little. When doing it right your legs will swing from back to front with each step like a pendulum, but without fully stretching the legs out in the front. If you are not used to this way of walking or if your muscles in the front area of your hips have shortened due to a lot of sitting on chairs, you will probably feel a stretch in your hip flexor muscle at the top of your upper leg. That’s a good sign. After the rear leg comes to the front, the „hard“ contact with the ground will happen with the middle area of the foot and beneath your body. This whole way of movement is very similar to the way of ChiPushing, where we also use the center of our foot to land on the ground. We can also easily transfer this walking principle to the Chi-Skogging transition of moving the back foot to the front of the board. That’s just to name a few of the similarities.

 

Finally this way of walking can also benefit your pumping ability. This may sound weird, but try mid-foot walking for yourself and you will feel how it activates the muscles in the back of your lower legs. The same muscles are also much used in the wiggly LDP-style of pumping. A beginner who is not used to the method of mid-foot walking will often start to feel pain in the calf muscles after some time. The same can happen when pumping. The good thing is that with training your body will adapt itself. With time you will also learn how to walk more relaxed. The pain should then disappear.

 

Of course it is possible to train these parts of your legs directly with specific muscle training, too. But ChiWalking still remains a gentle and effective method to prepare and train for long distance pumping.

Long Distance Pushing as the best fitting way for the human body to actively move by using assistive equipment

Distance Skateboarding can keep you fit and provide you with the same health benefits you would expect from practicing any other endurance sport. But what makes it exceptional is: Pushing a skateboard is one of the most natural and least stressful ways fo

This statement is no exaggeration, if you push in an upright relaxed body posture and use a pushing method with less impact on your bones. So here is some further explanation:

 

One fundamental advantage of pushing is, that you can use the skateboard as a tool to carry your feet. When running, the impact for the feet in the moment of touching the ground can be quite strong. If your heels are the first part of your feet that comes into contact with the ground or if you have a pronation when running, you will most probably damage your joints sooner or later. When pushing, the impact happens in the moment you are putting your foot down to the ground to propel yourself forward. But since you are standing with one foot on the board while already rolling forward, you have more time and control to prepare your step to the ground. This way it becomes possible to minimize the impact when putting your foot down by first moving it into a preferably low position above the ground before making a smooth step. You don‘t have this advantage when running, since running means to lift your back foot off the ground already before the front foot will again be landing on it. Otherwise you wouldn‘t be running but walking. When running you are actually performing a constant series of jumps. Because of this it is not possible to control the power of the impact in the same way like when pushing a skateboard.

Regarding the impact for your joints and bones, pushing also has another advantage: When running both of your feet are constantly engaged. But when pushing, you can keep one foot on top of the deck for some period of time and this way remove the stress resulting from the continuous stepping against the ground. This is especially true for the method of ChiPushing, because the leg on top of the board is completely relieved, pushing the board forward in a relaxed way without exerting downward pressure, as all of the body weight is carried by the leg touching the ground. If you switch sides to push with the other foot, the leg previously stepping against the ground will then take over the position on top of the board and get some relieve. Skogging (skate-jogging by alternately using both legs) is an important part to reduce stress for the body when pushing.

 

Finally another important ergonomical aspect that makes pushing a skateboard a very natural and one of the least stressful ways to travel, is described by the fitness and mobility coach Dr. Kelly Starrett in his book „Sitting is the new smoking“. He writes about the health advantages of passive standing in contrast to our modern lifestyle of too much sitting for long periods of time. Although he doesn’t mention skateboarding in his book, the principle he describes can be very well transferred to the act of pushing: When standing for longer periods of time, we like to lift one of our legs on top of an obstacle to bring it into a slightly higher position, because the resulting change in the area of the pelvis will help to take passive stress from our lower back and spine and allow us to stand for longer without feeling fatigue. Dr. Starrett takes the example of bars in pubs where people are drinking in a standing position. Some of these bars have poles at the front. The guests can rest their feet on these poles, which makes it easier for them to stand longer and to consume more drinks. It is easy to see the similarity to the body posture when pushing. Of course I don’t want to say, that all skaters are heavy drinkers, but the foot on top of the board is just the same in a higher position than the other one. In ChiPushing we use our foot standing on the deck to move it forward. This movement with the leg standing slightly higher on top of the board additionally helps to bring the pelvis into a favorable and stable position, that makes it easier to adjust the spine and to reduce stress in the back. Considering this we can see, that dropped decks are not necessarily better in every aspect of pushing.

 

When done correctly, pushing a skateboard is a simple yet efficient way of moving around, allowing us to transfer the same relieving principle that reduces stress when standing for longer periods of time, to create an efficient and least stressful way for our body to travel longer distances.

Long Distance Pushing als dem menschlichen Körper am besten angepasste Art aktiver Fortbewegung mit einem Hilfsmittel

Distance Skateboarding hält fit und bietet die gleichen gesundheitlichen Vorteile, die man auch von anderen Ausdauersportarten erwarten würde. Das Einzigartige daran ist aber: Das Pushen eines Skateboards ist für den Menschen eine der natürlichsten Möglic

Diese Aussage ist keine Übertreibung, wenn man eine aufrechte, entspannte Körperhaltung einnimmt und beim Pushen eine Methode verwendet, die sich weniger auf die Knochen auswirkt. Dazu im Folgenden einige weitergehende Erläuterungen:

 

Ein grundlegender Vorteil beim Pushen besteht darin, dass man das Skateboard als Hilfsmittel zum Transport der Füße benutzen kann. Beim Joggen kann der Aufprall für die Füße im Moment des Aufsetzens auf den Boden ziemlich stark sein. Wenn dabei die Fersen zuerst in Kontakt mit dem Boden kommen oder wenn man beim Laufen proniert (die Haltung der Füße nach innen einknicken lässt), werden die Gelenke sehr wahrscheinlich früher oder später Schaden nehmen. Beim Pushen geschieht der Aufprall in dem Moment, in dem der Fuß auf den Boden aufsetzt, um das Board vorwärts zu bewegen. Da man aber mit einem Fuß auf dem Brett steht, während man bereits vorwärts rollt, hat man mehr Zeit und Kontrolle, den Kontakt mit dem Boden vorzubereiten. Das ermöglicht es, den Aufprall beim Aufsetzen des Fußes zu minimieren, indem man den Fuß zuerst kontrolliert in eine Position bringen kann, die relativ nah am Boden liegt, bevor man die Bewegung mit einem ruckfreien Schritt abschließt. Beim Laufen gibt es diesen Vorteil nicht, denn schnelles Laufen bedeutet, dass man den hinteren Fuß bereits vom Boden abhebt, bevor der vordere Fuß wieder darauf landet. Ansonsten würde man nicht laufen, sondern gehen. Beim Joggen führt man genau genommen eine Reihe von sich wiederholenden Sprüngen aus. Dadurch ist es nicht möglich, die Kraft des Aufpralls in gleicher Weise zu steuern wie beim Pushen eines Skateboards.

 

Was die Auswirkung auf Gelenke und Knochen betrifft, hat das Pushen noch einen weiteren Vorteil: Beim Laufen sind beide Füße ständig im Einsatz. Beim Pushen bleibt ein Fuß längere Zeit in seiner Position auf dem Deck, wodurch er nicht der Belastung ausgesetzt wird, die durch die ständigen Tritte gegen den Boden entsteht. Das gilt besonders für die Methode des ChiPushing, die das Bein auf dem Board vollständig entlastet, während das Board in entspannter Weise und ohne Druck nach unten auszuüben, nach vorne geschoben wird. Das gesamte Körpergewicht wird dabei für einen Moment auf das Bein verlagert, das sich in Kontakt mit dem Boden befindet. Wenn man regelmäßig die Seiten wechselt, um auch mit dem anderen Fuß zu pushen, übernimmt das zuvor mit dem Boden in Kontakt stehende Bein anschließend die Position auf dem Board und wird dadurch ebenfalls entlastet. Skogging (Skate-Jogging mit abwechselndem gleichmäßigem Einsatz beider Beine) ist ein wichtiger Bestandteil zur Reduzierung der Belastung beim Pushen.

 

Ein weiterer wichtiger ergonomischer Aspekt, der das Pushen eines Skateboards zu einer sehr natürlichen und belastungsfreien Art der Fortbewegung macht, wird von dem Fitness- und Mobilitätstrainer Dr. Kelly Starrett in seinem Buch "Sitzen ist das neue Rauchen" beschrieben. Thema des Buches sind die gesundheitlichen Vorteile einer stehenden Haltung gegenüber dem, sich aus unserem modernen Lebensstil ergebenden, ständigen und langen Sitzen. Skateboarding wird dabei zwar nicht erwähnt; das dort beschriebene Prinzip kann jedoch sehr gut auf den Ablauf des Pushens übertragen werden: Während wir für längere Zeit stehen, stellen wir gerne eines unserer Beine auf einen etwas höheren Gegenstand. Das Anheben des Fußes und die sich daraus ergebende veränderte Position des Beckens bewirken eine Linderung von passivem Stress in unserem unteren Rücken und der Wirbelsäule, so dass wir länger ermüdungsfrei stehen können. Als Beispiel dafür beschreibt Dr. Starrett die Bauweise von Theken in Bars, an denen man im Stehen seine Getränke zu sich nehmen. Einige dieser Theken haben Stangen an der Vorderseite, damit die Gäste ihre Füße auf dieser Fußreeling ausruhen können. Damit wird es leichter, für längere Zeit zu stehen, wodurch übrigens auch mehr Getränke konsumiert werden können. Dieses Beispiel macht es einfach, die Ähnlichkeit zur Körperhaltung beim Pushen zu erkennen. Natürlich möchte ich nicht behaupten, dass alle Skater notorische Trinker sind. Ich vergleiche nur die beschriebene Stehhaltung mit der Stellung des Fußes auf dem Board, die sich beim Pushen in einer vergleichbar erhöhten Position befindet. Beim ChiPushing wird das Board mit dem Fuß auf dem Deck vorwärts bewegt. Diese Bewegung, mit dem angehobenen auf dem Board stehenden Bein, hilft zusätzlich, das Becken in eine günstige und stabile Position zu bringen, die es erleichtert, die Wirbelsäule auszurichten und die Belastung im Rücken zu reduzieren. Anhand dieser Tatsache können wir sehen, dass gedroppte Decks nicht unbedingt für jeden Aspekt des Pushens besser geeignet sind.

 

Richtig ausgeführt, ist das Pushen eines Skateboards eine minimalistische, aber effiziente Art der Fortbewegung, die Belastungen aus längerer aufrechter Haltung durch Einbeziehung ergonomischer Prinzipien reduziert und damit eine effiziente, unseren Körper insgesamt am wenigsten belastende Möglichkeit bietet, größere Entfernungen zurück zu legen.

The difference between alternating both legs for pushing, switch pushing and skogging

Pedidexterity

 

It looks to me that in the perception of many distance skaters the phrases "alternating the legs", "switch pushing" and "skogging" have no difference to their meaning and are often understood to describe one and the same thing. But from my undestanding about what the term skogging stands for and from my own experiences with using both legs for pushing I will try to explain the differences I can see.

 

Although "alternating both legs" and "switch pushing" can be used to describe skogging, they are not necessarily synonymous to the full meaning of it. If you look at the definition of skogging given by Chris Yandall, the inventor of this skateboarding style, it's basic characteristic is: Trying to be pedidextrous. Pedidexterity means being able to use both of your feet to perform a task in an equal way, just like ambidextrous people are adapted to using both of their hands in the same way to do something like writing for example.

 

If we take this definition, we can see that everyone of us already has experiences about being pedidextrous: Every time we walk or run we have to use both of our legs alternately. And when doing this we perform our strides in an equal way with both sides of our body. Although people usually have a weeker and a stronger side, this does not show when using the legs under normal circumstances. So I call this a pedidextrous skill, through which it becomes possible for us to move forward efficiently. In my view this principle of using the legs in an equal way should be the basic requirement for skogging, too. After all it is jogging with your skateboard.

Even when standing on the board with the feet pointing straight forward our body will still be slightly turned to one side in the hip area. On the image above this is indicated by the elipse. This way the starting position for pushing is different for each leg. The result is that every time we push each leg is used and trained in a slightly different way.


For ChiPushing I like to use a basic foot position like shown on the image above. The front foot is pointing straight forward while the back foot is placed with the toes pointing slightly to the side. This way your stance on the board is more firm and secure during higher speed. As a result the hips and torso will be turned even more to one side. Because of this it is even more important to switch between goofy and regular stance instead of just pushing mongo, if you want to train both legs in an equal way.

Alternating both legs for pushing

 

Some Skaters are using both legs for pushing, but not in a purely pedidextrous way. They are only alternating between pushing regular and mongo or goofy and mongo. But this means that they are keeping their original stance (either goofy or regular) and when using the other leg they just take their front foot off to push on the opposite side of the board. There's no doubt that using both legs this way can be efficient to push on longer distances and it already takes a good amount of practice and balance to use your front foot with the same effectiveness you are using your back foot. But while doing so you are still not changing your original stance. If you are goofy, you stay goofy and if you are regular, you stay regular. The only difference is, that you are alternating between using your back foot and your front foot for pushing. Of course this can be a good way to start learning to be pedidextrous, but this method itself is not pedidextrous in the real sense of the word.

 

Even if you stand on your board facing straight forward, like a lot of distance skaters do, your body will still be turned a bit more to one side in your hip area. This way you are not using both sides of the body in a completely identical way. You will feel this if you exchange the placement of your feet on the board by putting the back foot to the front and the front foot to the back. Even if you are well trained in using both legs with this method, after the exchange you will still not be able to push with the same effectiveness than before. The reason is that you have failed to train your body to adapt itself to pushing mongo with the other foot. This is a sign that you have not yet completely mastered pedidexterity.

 

Of course mongo pushing can be a part of skogging, as you can see in the videos of Chris Yandall and Steven Meketa on YouTube. But it is wrong to think that you are already skogging when actually limiting yourself to only pushing mongo on one side. This can only be a beginning or supplementary skill of skogging. There is still much more to accomplish when using both legs alternately.


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ChiPushing and ChiSkogging

When I started to make this "project" public by going online last year in November 2015, I used the Name "ChiPushing". This term reflects my idea to transfer principles from the ChiRunning-technique (developed by Danny Dreyer) to pushing a skateboard, as the movements of running or jogging have a lot in common with the pushing done by skateboarders. The name ChiPushing refers to the basics of how to push more effortless and injury free while using the whole body holistically and in an attentive but relaxed way; creating the conditions for the Chi to flow. From the very beginning it has been obvious to me that using both legs had to be an essential part of the method of ChiPushing. Only this way it would be possible to create a balanced workout and skate in the most efficient way. So I started to develop a footplant or footslide method (whatever you want to call it), that allowed for an easy and seamless switch between goofy and regular.

 

At that time I asked myself, if it could be possible that I am the only one seeing the need for using both legs equally for pushing? So I searched the internet if I could find something about pushing with both legs. Of course I discovered that I was not the first one with this idea. Pushing with both legs alternately even had a name and was called Skogging (skateboarding and jogging). From this day on I was always drawn to the Skogging-pages and the videos on YouTube about Chris Yandall (the skog-father) and Steven Meketa skogging. But since alternating both legs for pushing was only a necessity for me to avoid overuse of one leg, I usually switched sides only after a longer time of pushing with the same leg. That's why at first I didn't really associate myself with Skogging. Especially when I saw that skogging also involved pushing mongo, which was a move that didn't seem efficient enough for me to be integrated into ChiPushing.

With time passing I found it to be fun to switch stances more frequently. Eventually it became obvious to me that what I did could actually be called a form of skogging. I just didn't know if I should still call it ChiPushing or give it another name. One day I was posting on facebook and got a reaction from Steven Meketa. He wrote something like: "Go on and let the world know about ChiSkogging." And I thought: "Yes that's it. This is actually a nice name for it."

 

But it still took me some more time to realize that ChiSkogging can describe more than just a way to do ChiPushing with a constant change of your pushing stance. After getting familiar with the basics of the technique you can transfer the ChiPushing-principles to cruising and pumping as well (which can all be performed pedidextrous by alternating between goofy and regular stance). When pumping for example you can try to let the movements start from the center of your body down through your legs, mainly using your abdominal muscles while relaxing your legs and the rest of the body as much as possible. The same is true when performing other skogging transitions to change sides while pushing. You can use the moving principles from Tai Chi even if pushing mongo, which actually is a nice practice as it will challenge your ability to keep balance in a new way.

 

Although ChiSkogging is a term people outside the LDP-Community will not understand without further explanation, the combination of the wordparts is a nice expression of the fusion of components from the three types of bodily activities that make this style of skateboarding unique and ensure it's effectiveness: Tai Chi, Skateboarding and Jogging.

Review: Skogging in Amuri Z-Trek Barefoot Sandals from Xero Shoes

Although it is already fall now and summer is gone, I want to let everyone know about what I think are the best barefoot-sandals for distance skateboarding. Luckily I still had the chance to test them recently on some warmer days.

 

For quite some time now I have been a big "fan" of moving in a way that is natural and healthy for my feet and the rest of the body. Part of this is to incorporate more barefooted movement in my life. When running I usually use huaraches (barefoot sandals) to get a little protection for my feet and this works quite well. But pushing a skateboard in traditional style huaraches has always been an unsatisfactory experience to me.

As these sandals are attached to the feet with the help of thin shoelaces, they don't sit tight enough to prevent your feet from slightly slipping around on the sole. As a result the lace next to the big toe always caused a rubbing sensation that could be quite annoying. I made this experience while pushing and especially when skogging. Tightening up the laces more did not help for me and made wearing the huaraches rather more uncomfortable.

 

But riding a board without any footwear doesn't really seem apropriate to me. I know that some people do skate barefooted and they are doing it quite well, which of course shows that it is possible. But while skating with higher speed or going for longer distances, I personally like to have some protection for my feet to avoid injuries, because scratches on the soles or sides of the feet are more likely to happen when you go faster than just in a walking or running pace. Of course I could always take Vibram Five Fingers which I think would be a better choice than using traditional huaraches. But I know from running in Vibrams that they have a rather stiff sole and the seperate holes you have to force your toes into always gave me a constrained feeling which is still quite different compared to moving around in huaraches.

Carving with Amuri Z-Trek from Xero Shoes

The sandals can be ordered on www.xeroshoes.com.

Xero Shoes Amuri Z-Trek Barefoot Sandals
Slogging with Amuri Z-Trek from Xero Shoes

So I always wished to find a solution one day that would fit tightly on my feet while at the same time allowing my feet to have that pure barefoot feeling when pushing or skogging. Recently I heard of Danny Dreyer (inventor of the method of ChiRunning) using the Xero Shoes sandals for running. As he praised them to be very good running sandals, I hoped they would work for my distance pushing as well. And indeed, they are exactly what I have been looking for. Instead of shoelaces they use a strapping system which allows the sandals to be attached to the feet more tightly and secure than with usual huaraches. The flat straps also make them more comfortable, avoiding any grinding sensations. Once you have customized the straps, the sandals don't need any further adjustment and fit like a second skin. Another result of this tightening system is that when it gets colder outside you could even wear your usual socks with them instead of having to buy special toe-socks.

 

The Xero Shoes sandals come in two versions: The Amuri Z-Trek with a 5,5 mm sole and the newer Umara Z-Trail with a sole of 10 mm. As the Z-Trail was made with trail-running on unpaved surfaces in mind, I intentionally chose the Z-Trek for maximum barefoot feeling. The thin flexible sole really gives you the same feeling as if being barefoot but with the needed protection for fast pushing. But I am aware that the Z-Trail, having a thicker sole and nonetheless being 20% lighter than the Z-Trek, might be the better sandal for the really long distances.

 

The first time I tested my new Xero Shoes sandals was on a short 14 km push going slightly uphill. Although I had two little blisters on my feet afterwards this was nothing tragical and owed to the fact that I first had to find the right way to push without any dampening shoe soles. Later I adapted my pushing and did not experience any more problems.

 

As the manufacturers claim that both of their sandals have a very durable sole and even give a 5.000 miles warranty on them, I could not help but test the sandals while frequently footbraking on my 14 km ride back downhill. As you can see on the photos I made afterwards, some areas of the soles are already a bit worn down. But the rubber-sole seems to be quite durable, as the result doesn't look worse than what you would expect after footbraking with other skate or running shoes. Nonetheless the sandals are of course not made for excessive footbraking. But for the purpose of long distance pushing and skogging, when you don't necessarily need to do much footbraking, they are the best barefoot-sport-sandals I am aware of.


Das Pushen neu lernen mit dem Meketa Bamboo Skogger als Pumper /Pusher-Hybrid

Ich muss zugeben, dass ich zum Pushen immer gedroppte Boards bevorzugt habe. Das Deck liegt näher am Boden, was für Stabilität sorgt und das Pushen wird dadurch im Allgemeinen einfacher. Mit der Entwicklung meines persönlichen Verständnisses vom Skogging verspürte ich jedoch den Wunsch, das Skaten surfiger zu gestalten und auch eine einfachere Möglichkeit zum Pumpen in meine Skogging-Workouts einzubauen. Die beste Lösung hierfür schien mir, ein Top Mount-Board ohne Drop zu verwenden. Da der Whatever Skateboards Bamboo Skogger von Steven Meketa genau diese Eigenschaften besitzt, außerdem eine schöne große Plattform hat, die im vorderen Bereich noch etwas weiter wird (gut fürs Pumpen) und mich die Flex-Eigenschaften neugierig machten, war es eine leichte Entscheidung, mir das Board anzuschaffen; auch wenn es in Europa nirgends erhältlich ist. (Das Deck kann über Whatever Skateboards bestellt werden.)

 

Als ich es dann endlich vor mir hatte, fiel mir als erstes auf, dass es sehr groß wirkte. Obwohl es nur etwas länger ist als mein großer gedroppter Pusher, den ich normalerweise zum skoggen nehme, hat es als Top Mount-Board ohne Cutouts für die Wheels doch noch einiges mehr an Oberfläche. Ich fragte mich, ob ich dieses Board wirklich einfach pumpen könnte. Aber mit den Carver CX.4/C2.4 Trucks wurde das Pumpen des Bamboo Skoggers dann doch super einfach. Trotz der Länge des Boards sorgen diese Achsen außerdem für das surfige Fahrgefühl, nach dem ich gesucht hatte. Von meiner bisherigen Erfahrung kann ich sagen, dass dieses Top Mount-Setup mit den Carver Trucks eine sehr gute Kombination für ernsthaftes Long Distance Pumping ist, die es außerdem ermöglicht, zwischendurch wirklich enge surfige Turns zu fahren. Im Grunde ist das Ergebnis auch nicht so überraschend, denn wie uns die Slalom-Boards zeigen, sind die besten Decks zum Pumpen top mount und nicht gedropped.

 

Für Distance Pusher gibt es bei diesen Setups jedoch normalerweise einen Nachteil, da das Board relativ hoch über dem Boden liegt. Das trifft insbesondere dann zu, wenn man Carver Trucks benutzt, weil man ausreichend Platz zwischen Rollen und Deck benötigt, um Wheelbites zu vermeiden. 

Meketa Bamboo Skogger

Um nicht gedroppte Boards zu pushen, müssen die Knie mit jedem Push stärker gebeugt werden, was auf längeren Strecken zu einer schnelleren Ermüdung des auf dem Board stehenden Beins führt. Natürlich gibt es auch so genannte Hybrid-Boards, die sich noch pumpen lassen auch wenn sie normalerweise eine niedrigere Plattform haben, um weiterhin leichteres Pushen zu ermöglichen. Das Resultat kann jedoch nicht mit der Pump-Leistung eines höheren Top Mount-Boards mithalten.

 

Aus der Sicht eines Skoggers ist ein Hybrid-Board nicht wirklich notwendig, denn beim Skogging wird der Schwerpunkt beim abwechselnden Pushen mit beiden Beinen normalerweise auf das Workout an sich gelegt. Wenn man dabei kleine Kniebeugen ausführt, wird das Fortbewegen mit dem Board für geübte Skogger im Grunde zu einem noch interessanteren Workout. Wenn das Ziel eines Distance-Skaters jedoch darin besteht, eine bestimmte Route in der schnellstmöglichen und gleichzeitig energiesparendsten Weise zurück zu legen, indem er zwischen Pumpen und Pushen wechselt, dann scheint ein Board ohne Drop wie der Meketa Skogger nicht unbedingt die beste Wahl.

 

Wenn es um die Effizienz des Long Distance Pushing/Pumping geht, ist jedoch aus meiner Sicht - wie bei jeder anderen Sportart auch - der wichtigste Faktor der Stil und das Können des Sportlers selbst. Verglichen damit ist das Setup nur von zweitrangiger Bedeutung, da es nur einige zusätzliche kleinere Vorteile bereit stellen kann, die ein erfahrener und gut trainierter Skater nicht wirklich braucht (das gilt um so mehr für die Disziplin des Distance Skateboarding). Andererseits kann das verwendete Equipment sehr schnell die eigenen Fähigkeiten negativ beeinflussen oder zugrunde richten.

 

Als Beispiel aus der Welt des Jogging können wir die gepolsterten High-Tech-Laufschuhe nehmen, die mehr Dämpfung und Komfort für bessere, schnellere und längere Läufe versprechen. In den letzten Jahren stellte sich jedoch heraus, dass diese Schuhe nicht die ultimative Lösung darstellten, denn sie fördern den Einsatz der Ferse beim Laufen, was beim Joggen nicht der geeignetste Laufstil ist, da er über längere Zeit zu Verletzungen führen kann. Muskeln in den Beinen und Füßen, die normalerweise eingesetzt werden wenn man barfuß oder zumindest in minimalistischen Schuhen läuft, werden dadurch nicht mehr trainiert und bauen ab. Schließlich verliert man die Fähigkeit, in einer für den Körper gesunden Haltung zu laufen. Es gibt viele Beispiele von geübten Läufern, die barfuß oder mit dünner Sohle in den Schuhen verletzungsfrei laufen können und dabei viel effizienter und schneller sind als Läufer in gedämpften Laufschuhen. Diese Läufer tendieren auf natürliche Weise dazu, bei ihren Schritten zuerst den Vorfuß oder Mittelfuß aufzusetzen.

 

Das mit diesem Beispiel zum Ausdruck gebrachte Prinzip kann genauso auf die verschiedenen Arten von Boards übertragen werden, die wir beim Skaten benutzen. Wenn wir gedroppte Boards verwenden hat das einen Einfluß auf die Art wie wir unsere Beine zum Pushen einsetzen. Wenn wir versuchen würden über einen längeren Zeitraum auf höherliegenden Boards zu pushen, könnten wir damit andere Muskeln trainieren und vielleicht einen Weg finden, der das Pushen genauso effektiv werden läßt, wie bei der Verwendung tieferliegender Decks. Ich behaupte nicht, dass gedroppte oder tiefere Boards nicht gut sind oder keinen Sinn machen. Wir sollten sie nur nicht als die einzige Lösung für effizientes Long Distance Pushing ansehen, nur weil sie offensichtlich von Anfang an sehr komfortabel wirken.

 

Ich bin überzeugt, dass der Schlüssel für effizientes Distance-Skateboarding alleine in der Art des Pushens selbst gefunden werden kann. Der wichtigste Aspekt hierbei ist es, den Körper korrekt auszurichten und in einen tieferen Stand zu bringen, in dem man sich die meiste Zeit über mit konstant gebeugten Knien bewegt. Das ist der gleiche Stand, den man auch einnimmt, während man sich beim Üben des Tai Chi hin und her bewegt. Dieser Stand gibt nicht nur Stabilität, sondern verhindert auch die ständige Auf- und Abbewegung beim Beugen der Knie, die man ansonsten mit jedem Push auf einem höherliegenden Deck ausführen müsste. Durch die Vermeidung dieser aktiven Kniebeugen bleibt das Bein auf dem Board mehr oder weniger konstant auf der gleichen Ebene. Auch wenn man sich zuerst an diese neue Position gewöhnen muss, wird es mit der Zeit möglich werden, die Muskeln in den Beinen mehr und mehr zu entspannen. Ein weiterer wichtiger Punkt besteht darin, das vordere Bein im Moment des Pushens zu entlasten. Als Resultat dieser ChiSkogging-Techniken werden die Beine nicht in gleicher Weise ermüden, wie beim Pushen eines nicht gedroppten Boards ohne Beachtung dieser Prinzipien. Alles hängt von der Übung und der Entwicklung der eigenen Fähigkeiten ab. Wenn ich in Zukunft also mit meinem neuen Meketa Skogger zum Skoggen nach draußen gehe, wird das ein guter Anlass für mich sein, meine Fähigkeiten zum Pushen in einer viel tieferen Körperposition als bisher zu üben und zu vertiefen.

 

Nach meinen bisher gemachten Erfahrungen kann ich sagen, dass der Meketa Bamboo Skogger mit seinem federnden Flex und seiner großen Plattform, die viel Platz für die Beinarbeit beim Skogging bietet, ein sehr guter Pusher/Pumper-Hybrid für erfahrene Skogger ist, die beide Beine mit der gleichen Kraft einsetzen können.

Testing the Whatever Skateboards Meketa Bamboo Skogger and relearning to push

I have to admit, that I always prefered dropped boards for pushing, as the platform is closer to the ground, creating stability and making it easier to push in general. But as my personal understanding of skogging increased over time I felt the need to add a surfier way of skating and a better pumping ability to my skogging workouts. I decided that for this purpose the best choice would be a top mount board without any drop. As the Whatever Skateboards Bamboo Skogger from Steven Meketa posesses these characteristics together with a nice large platform which is slightly wider in the front (which is good for pumping) and a flex that made me curious, it was an easy decision to get that board, even though it is not available from within europe.

(The deck can be ordered at Whatever Skateboards.)

 

When I finally got it my first impression was that it appeared to be really huge. Although it is only slightly longer than my big dropped pusher I usually skog with, it has even more deck surface as it is a top mount board without wheel-cutouts. I asked myself, if it would be possible to pump this large board easily. But with the Carver CX. 4 /C2.4 trucks pumping the Bamboo Skogger was really easy and despite the length of the board, they allow for the surfy ride I was looking for. From my experience so far I would say, that this top mount set-up with Carver trucks is a very good combination for serious long distance pumping that even allows you to throw in some really narrow surfy turns. Actually the result is not that surprising as we all know from slalom boards that the best decks for pumping are top mount and are not dropped.

 

But for distance pushers there is usually a downside to these set-ups, because the board is located rather high above the ground. This is especially true if you are using Carver trucks as you need enough space between the wheels and the deck to avoid wheelbites. To push non-dropped boards you have to bend your knees to a greater extent with every push which on longer distances will tire the leg standing on the board much faster. Of course there are so called hybrid boards that are still pumpable but usually also have a lowered platform to allow for easier pushing and so the result you get cannot be compared to the pumping performance of a higher top mount board.

Whatever Skateboards Meketa Bamboo Skogger

 

From a skogger's point of view I would say there is not really any need for hybrid set-ups since a main focus of skogging is to use pushing as a workout while alternating the use of the legs. To do little knee bends when pushing actually makes commuting an even more interesting workout for advanced skoggers. But if the goal of a distance skater is to skate as far as possible in the most energy saving and fastest way by alternating between pumping and pushing, a non-lowered deck like the Meketa Skogger doesn't seem to be the best choice.

 

But as I see it, the most important factor for the efficiency of long distance pushing/pumping - as with all sports activities - is the style and the skill of the person itself. Compared to this factor the used set-up is only secondary and probably can provide some additional minor benefits, which an experienced and well trained skater might not need. On the other hand the used equipment can very easily ruin one's skills.

 

As an example from the world of running/jogging we can take the cushioned high tech running shoes, which promise more damping and comfort for longer, better and faster runs. But in recent years it turned out, that these shoes were not the ultimate solution, as they encourage heel strike running which is not the best way to run and can lead to injuries resulting from unfavorable running posture. Muscles of the feet and legs usually used when running barefoot or with very minimalistic shoes are no longer trained and degrade. From this point on you are no longer able to run in a healthy posture. There are a lot of examples of skilled runners using minimalistic shoes that can run injury free and even more efficient than runners wearing cushioned shoes. They naturally tend to use a midfoot or forefoot strike.

 

I think that the principle behind this example can be transferred to the different kinds of boards we use. By using dropped boards all the time it will have an effect on the way we use our body for pushing. If we then attempt to push on higher boards for longer periods it will be even harder, as we are not used to it. The pushing of a higher board will engage the muscles in a different way. If we keep on training with the higher board there might be a way to push, that is equally effective than pushing on a low board. I don't want to say that dropped or lowered boards are not good at all. But I think we should not accept them as the only solution for efficient long distance pushing only because they obviously seem to be more comfortable from the start.

 

I am convinced that the key to efficient distance skating can only be found in the way of pushing itself. Here the most important aspect is to align your body in the right way and to bring it into a lowered stance where you move with your knees constantly bend, at least for most of the time. It is the same low stance that is used for moving when practicing Tai Chi. This stance not only gives you stability, it will also help you to reduce the up and down movement of bending your knees you would otherwise have to perform with every push on a higher board. By avoiding these active knee bends the leg on the board will stay more or less on the same level. Although you might have to get used to this kind of position first, with time it will be possible to relax the muscles in the legs more and more. Another important aspect is to releive the front leg in the moment of pushing. The result of these ChiSkogging techniques is that you will not experience the same fatigue of your leg, as you would when pushing a higher deck the usual way. It all depends on practice and the development of our skills. So when I go out skogging, the new Meketa Skogger will provide a good reason for me to improve my abilities for efficient pushing in a much lower bodily position than usual.

 

From my testing I can say that for experienced skoggers who are skilled in using both legs with the same power, the Meketa Bamboo Skogger with it's large flat platform together with the deck´s flex capabilities is a very good pumping/pushing-hybrid.

Yin Yang Skog

Diese neue Form des Skogging verbindet meiner Meinung nach die Bewegungsform des schnellen Laufens bzw. Joggens mit dem Pushen des Boards auf sehr natürliche Weise. Ich nenne diesen Bewegungsablauf den Yin Yang Skog. Er fügt sich sehr gut in den Ablauf des ChiPushing ein. Je öfter ich ihn ausführe, um so weniger kann ich damit aufhören. :-)

 

Die tiefere Bedeutung des Yin Yang Skog:

 

Beide Füße berühren den Boden nacheinander in der gleichen Weise und stehen damit für "goofy" und "regular", die beiden Grundstellungen während des Pushens im Skateboarding. In diesem Bewegungsablauf können sie mit den beiden Kräften "Yin" und "Yang" verglichen werden, die sich in ähnlicher Weise in einem beständigen Wandel zeigen und dabei stets die Grundlage für den Wechsel zur anderen Seite in sich tragen. Nur zusammen machen sie alles wirklich vollständig und ausgeglichen. Überträgt man dieses Prinzip auf das Pushen eines Skateboards, äußert es sich durch das Skogging, das sowohl die Goofy- als auch die Regular-Fußstellung einsetzt und damit im Ergebnis eine Art von stellungsfreiem Skateboarding ermöglicht.

 


Yin Yang Skog

This is a way to skog that in my opinion merges the moving pattern of running with pushing the board in a very natural way. It fits very well into the ChiPushing principles and I call it the Yin Yang Skog. The more I practice it, the more addicting it becomes. :-) 

 

The deeper meaning of the the Yin Yang Skog:

 

Both feet touch the ground successively in an equal way, highlighting the "goofy" and "regular" pushing stances of skateboarding. In this movement they can be compared to the two forces of "yin" and "yang" which are likewise showing themselves in a steady change while laying a foundation for the switch to the other side. Only together they make everything really whole and balanced. This principle brought to pushing a skateboard manifests itself in skogging, which uses goofy and regular stances to create a way of truly stanceless skateboarding.


Another view on Skogging

Running can be considered the most ancient sportlike activity, as our ancestors had to do it for hunting and to commute and travel longer distances in a shorter time. To run has been the most original, nature given and regular way to use our bodies capabilities to move to their full extent. Running has  become an inherent ability of our human bodies and I would go as far as to say that we need to move our legs to stay happy and healthy.

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Eine etwas andere Sicht auf Skogging

Schnelles Laufen kann als die älteste sportliche Aktivität bezeichnet werden. Unsere Vorfahren waren darauf angewiesen, um zu jagen und von einem Ort zum anderen zu gelangen und auch längere Distanzen in einer kürzeren Zeit zurück zu legen. Zu laufen bzw. zu rennen war die ursprünglichste, naturgegebene und regelmäßig verwendete Methode, die Fähigkeiten zur Fortbewegung unseres Körpers in vollem Umfang zu nutzen. Zu Laufen oder zu Rennen ist eine angeborene Fähigkeit unseres Körpers geworden und ich würde sogar behaupten, dass wir unsere Beine bewegen müssen, um glücklich und gesund zu bleiben.

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ChiPushing Power Start

Demonstration der gravitativen Kraft des Nach-Vorne-Fallens zusammen mit der Beschleunigung des Boards durch ziehen statt schieben (in Slow Motion).

Eine kraftsparende und trotzdem kraftvolle Art, das Pushen zu beginnen.


ChiPushing Power Start

Demonstrating the gravitational force of leaning forward together with accelerating the board by pulling instead of pushing (video in slow motion).

An effortless yet powerful way to start pushing.


The advantages of moving with a longboard/skateboard

Or: Why all runners should do pushing

 

The invention of the wheel has enabled humans to travel longer distances more quickly and in a power-saving way. As finds from the past show this happened even prior to the use of domesticated horses for the purpose of riding and can be considered a revolution in moving. In addition to running the use of carts and carriages is probably the most original, simple and most natural way of moving (due to the at least partial use of renewable resources and the simple way of using the power of animals or man himself).

 

As we all know, the skateboard did not evolve out of four-wheeled carts, but was first invented by surfers with the use of wheels on surfboards. And it is exactly this influence from the field of surfing (where flat boards are used for riding the waves) in combination with wheels necessary for moving on land which make a skateboard the most interesting, most varied and most useful of all wheel-powered means of movement. Thus it has the potential to once again revolutionize the transportation on wheels in our present time. The unique surfy feeling while gliding on the board in an upright position can not be achieved with inline skates, roller skates, scooters or skikes. 


In addition your feet have the possibility to make a direct and safe contact with the ground at any time.

 

Another important aspect which separates the movement with a longboard is the aspect of pushing. When performed correctly pushing the board has a lot in common with the movement of running. Regarding the anatomy our bodies are best suited for endurance running. The natural movement of the body while running can be supplemented by the additional use of a longboard in an ideal way. Distance Skateboarding is the perfect mode of transportation for runners. Compared with jogging this will make it possible to travel longer distances while getting less tired and ChiPushing when executed slowly is the ideal regeneration unit between intensive running sessions. As one foot is always on the board, the frequency of the ground contact of the feet is reduced and the movement of pushing with both legs can be performed relatively slow. This advantage of ChiPushing can of course be a benefit for ambitious distance skaters, too.

 

Depending on the type of execution pushing in distance-skating will also allow a workout that is in its intensity comparable to jogging. With additional pumping of the board such a unit can be even more intense than jogging. As a conclusion it can be said that Long Distance Pushing will bring the same advantages to the body in terms of health and the positive impact on the heart and blood circulation as running would. This is especially true if, as it is done in ChiPushing, both legs are used alternately. I can confirm this statement from my own experience, because I am not only a skater, but a runner as well.

 

Finally, an advantage of a longboard compared to other means of transport is that you can freely select and combine the method of moving (pushing with the left and right leg or pumping in different ways). This makes it possible to use different muscle groups without burdening one part excessively. This freedom can not be achieved if the wheels are firmly attached to the feet and certainly not by cycling. Although a bike may have the advantage that it can move very quickly on level ground or while going uphill. However, since the body is bend forward while sitting on the bike it will often lead to tensions in the neck and the constant pressure of the saddle between the legs is also annoying in the long run.

 

Using the right technique together with the Chi (our bodies inner energy) for pushing renders traveling with a skateboard or longboard a holistic and sound alternative compared to other means of transport operated with human body power.

Die Vorteile der Fortbewegung mit Longboards/Skateboards

Oder: Warum alle Läufer pushen sollten

 

Die Erfindung des Rades hat es den Menschen ermöglicht, schneller und auf kraftsparende Weise größere Ent-fernungen zu überwinden. Wie Funde aus der Vergangenheit zeigen, geschah das bereits vor der Nutzung von domesti-zierten Pferden zum Zweck des Reitens und kann als Revolution der Fortbewegung betrachtet werden. Neben dem Laufen ist die Nutzung von Karren und Wägen damit wohl die ursprünglichste, einfachste und natürlichste Art der Fortbewegung (wegen der zumindest teilweisen Ver-wendung nachwachsender Resourcen und dem einfachen Antrieb mit Hilfe von Tieren oder dem Menschen selbst).

 

Wie wir alle wissen ist das Skateboard zwar nicht als Weiterentwicklung von vierrädrigen Karren entstanden, sondern wurde erstmals von Surfern durch die Verwendung von Rollen an Surfbrettern kreiert. Es ist jedoch gerade dieser Einfluß aus dem Bereich des Surfens und die Verwendung der beim Wellenreiten eingesetzten flachen Bretter im Zusammenspiel mit den zur Fortbewegung auf dem Land notwendigen Rädern/Rollen, welche das Skateboard zum interessantesten, abwechslungsreichsten und nützlichsten aller radbetriebenen Fortbewegungsmittel machen. 


Damit hat es das Potential, die Fortbewegung auf Rädern in unserer heutigen Zeit noch einmal zu revolutionieren. Das einzigartige surfige Gefühl während des aufrecht auf dem Board stehenden Gleiten über den Boden kann nicht mit Inlinern, Rollschuhen, Skikes oder Scootern erreicht werden. Zudem hat man immer die Möglichkeit schnell einen direkten und sicheren Kontakt zum Boden herzustellen.

 

Ein anderer wichtiger Aspekt, der die Fortbewegung mit einem Longboard abhebt ist der Aspekt des Pushens. Bei richtiger Ausführung hat das Pushen des Boards sehr viel gemeinsam mit der Bewegung beim schnellen Dauerlauf. Von der Anatomie her sind unsere Körper bestens geeignet für ausdauerndes Laufen. Diese natürliche Bewegung des Körpers beim Laufen kann durch die zusätzliche Verwendung eines Skateboards in idealer Weise ergänzt werden. Distance Skateboarding ist die perfekte Art der Fortbewegung für Läufer. Verglichen mit dem Joggen wird es auf diese Weise auch möglich, längere Strecken ermüdungsfreier zurück zu legen. Wenn man ChiPushing langsam ausführt, ist es die ideale Regenerationseinheit zwischen intensiven Läufen. Da ein Fuß immer auf dem Board bleibt, wird die Häufigkeit des Bodenkontakts der Füße verringert. Gleichzeitig können die Bewegungen der Beine relativ langsam ausgeführt werden. Diesen Vorteil des ChiPushing können sich natürlich auch ambitionierte Distance Skater zunutze machen.

 

Das Pushen im Distance Skating ermöglicht außerdem je nach Art der Ausführung auch ein Workout, das in seiner Intensität dem Joggen vergleichbar ist. Mit zusätzlichem Pumpen des Boards kann eine solche Einheit sogar noch intensiver sein als Joggen. Damit ist klar, dass Long Distance Pushing dem Körper hinsichtlich der Fitness und der positiven Auswirkungen auf Herz und Kreislauf die gleichen Vorteile bringen wird wie Laufen. Das gilt insbesondere wenn man, wie im ChiPushing üblich, beide Beine abwechselnd einsetzt. Ich kann diese Aussage aus eigener Erfahrung bestätigen, da ich nicht nur Skater, sondern auch Läufer bin.

 

Schließlich hat die Benutzung eines Longboards gegenüber anderen Fortbewegungsmitteln den Vorteil, dass man die Methode der Fortbewegung frei wählen und kombinieren kann (Pushen mit linkem und rechtem Bein oder Pumpen auf unterschiedliche Weise). Damit wird es möglich, verschiedene Muskelpartien zu beanspruchen ohne einen Teil übermäßig zu belasten. Diese Freiheit kann nicht erreicht werden, wenn Rollen fest mit den Füßen verbunden sind und schon gar nicht mit dem Fahrrad. Das Fahrrad mag zwar den Vorteil haben, dass man sich damit auf ebener Strecke und bergauf sehr schnell fortbewegen kann. Das gebeugte Sitzen führt jedoch schnell zu Verspannungen im Nacken und der ständige Druck des Sattels zwischen den Beinen ist auf Dauer ebenfalls lästig.

 

Die Verwendung der richtigen Technik und der Einsatz des Chi (unserer inneren Energie) beim Pushen machen das Fahren mit einem Skateboard oder Longboard im Vergleich zu anderen Fortbewegungsmitteln, die mit eigener Körperkraft betrieben werden zu einer ganzheitlichen und ausgereiften Alternative.

Die richtige Körperhaltung beim ChiPushing und wie man das ChiPushen eines Longboards aus der erdenden Grundhaltung heraus beginnen kann:

Bevor mit dem Pushen begonnen wird sollte immer die korrekte Körperhaltung kontrolliert werden, um diese während des Pushens einfach beizubehalten. Die richtige Körperhaltung ist identisch mit der erdenden Standhaltung, die es ermöglicht, eine bessere Verbindung zum Boden unterhalb der Füße und des Boards aufzubauen. Das bewußte Einnehmen der Grundhaltung ist vor allem für Anfänger wichtig. Nachdem man sich daran gewöhnt hat und den Körper mehr und mehr entspannen kann, was es dem Chi erlaubt frei zu fließen, wird man diese Haltung sehr schnell und wie von selbst einnehmen, da der Körper fühlen kann, welche Haltung für ihn am besten ist.


Wir schieben die Hüften nach vorne und glätten den Bereich im unteren Rücken während wir in die Knie gehen, so als ob wir uns auf einen Barhocker setzen. Wir richten die Wirbelsäule auf und bringen den Oberkörper in eine aufrechte Haltung, so als ob unser Kopf an einer Schnur nach oben gezogen wird. Wir nehmen unser Kinn etwas zurück, um den Nackenbereich aufzurichten.

 

Nach dem Drehen des Körper in Fahrtrichtung beginnen wir das Körpergewicht auf den vorderen Fuß zu verlagern und lehnen den Körper nach vorne. Das ermöglicht der Gravitation, uns nach vorne zu ziehen. Gleichzeitig setzen wir den Fuß vor dem Körper auf den Boden, um das Körpergewicht aufzufangen. Meiner Auffassung nach ist das Prinzip, die Gravitationskraft für eine effiziente Bewegung zu nutzen, direkt aus Danny Dreyers ChiRunning-Technik übertragbar und kann zum Pushen eines Longboards eingesetzt werden.

 

Allerdings wird man sich während das Board noch nicht in Bewegung ist nur minimal nach vorne lehnen können, da das Board ansonsten leicht nach hinten geschoben wird und der Kontrolle entgleitet. Wenn das Board jedoch bereits rollt, kann man sich weiter nach vorne lehnen, was es ermöglicht, einen größeren Schritt mit dem Pushbein auszuführen. Dadurch wird mehr Raum geschaffen, um das Board mit dem anderen Bein nach vorne zu bewegen.

 

Beim ChiPushing können die folgenden Regeln angewendet werden:

Je schneller das Board rollt, umso mehr kann man sich nach vorne lehnen.

Je mehr man ein rollendes Board beschleunigen möchte, umso mehr sollte man sich nach vorne lehnen.

 

Die Bewegungen im Video wurden relativ langsam ausgeführt. Am Anfang hilft das dabei, ein gutes Gefühl für die Bewegungen zu entwickeln und die dahinter stehenden Prinzipien nachzuvollziehen, sowie ihre korrekte Ausführung leichter umzusetzen. Um ChiPushing zu meistern und von den Vorteilen dieser Methode zu profitieren, muss zuerst daran gearbeitet werden, die Form des Pushens zu perfektionieren, was mit einem langsamen und bewußten Bewegen des Boards erreicht wird. Im nächsten Schritt kann man dann die beim Pushen zurück zu legende Strecke verlängern. Aufbauend auf diesen beiden Grundlagen ist es dann am Ende auch möglich, auf einfache Weise die Geschwindigkeit des Pushens zu erhöhen.

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Correct body posture for ChiPushing and short demonstration of how you can start to chipush a longboard following the grounding stance:

Before starting to push you should always check the correct body posture so you can easily maintain it throughout the entire distance push with your board. The right body posture is identical to the grounding stance that helps you to better connect with the ground beneath your feet and your board. The conscious adoption of this posture is especially important for beginners. After you get used to it and you can relax your body more and more, allowing the Chi to flow freely, you will be able to take it very quickly and automatically, as your body can sense what is the best posture to take.

 

Tilt your hips forward and flatten your lower back area while going down into your knees as if sitting down on a barstool. Straighten your spine and bring your upper body


into an upright position. Imagine the top of your head being pulled upwards by a string. Take your chin slightly back to straighten the neck area.

 

After turning the body into the direction you want to ride start shifting your body weight to the front foot and let your body lean forward. This will allow the gravitational force to pull you to the front. At the same time you bring your foot to the ground in front of you, catching your body wheight. As I see it, this principle of using the gravitational force for efficient movement can be directly transferred from Danny Dreyers ChiRunning technique to pushing a longboard.

 

However, when you start with your board standing still you will be able to lean forward only minimaly because otherwise you would push the board to the back and loose control over it. But if your board is already rolling, you can lean forward more, which will allow you to take a wider step with your pushing foot and give you more room for moving the board forward with your other foot.

 

When chipushing the following rules can be applied:

The faster you are rolling the more you can lean forward.

The more you want to accelerate when rolling the more you should lean forward.

 

The movements in the video are performed relatively slow. In the beginning this will help to develop a good feeling for the movements and to experience their underlying principles. It also allows to reproduce them in the correct way much easier. To master ChiPushing and to benefit from the efficiency of this method you will first have to work on perfecting the form of pushing, which is done by moving with your board in a slow and conscious way. In a next step you can then extend the distance you are pushing. Building upon these two foundations you will finally be able to also increase the speed of your pushing in an easy way.

 

Dutch Ultraskate 2018 - Thoughts of a 100 mile skogger

Photo by Andre Abtmeyer
Photo by Andre Abtmeyer

My first participation at a 24 hour ultraskate just happened from the 7th to the 8th of july in Spaarndam, Netherlands. My personal goal was to skog at least 100 miles. In the end I reached a distance of 109 miles (176 km). Looking back it seems, to reach this 100 miles club was something almost everyone of the long distance enthusiasts at the dutch ultraskate 2018 could achieve easily. There were even a lot of people going more than 200 miles. Probably this is because people spend more attention to their setups and to proper training and preparation. Another reason could be that a lot of people are alternating their feet when pushing nowadays. So skogging might be a main factor, too. However, I have to face it: In the world of serious distance skateboarding, the distance I accomplished seems to be quite common these days (at least at an ultraskate) and remains only good enough to astonish an ordinary city cruising longboarder. So, of course my distance at the ultraskate will not be the main topic of this text.

 

I would rather like to talk about skogging: One main reason for my participation at the ultraskate was, to prove to myself that skogging is not just a good cruising exercise but that it can also be beneficial when riding for very long times. When I’m talking about skogging, I refer to full „pedidexterity“ style skogging, which means switching the stances and not only pushing mongo when alternating the legs. Of course I also pushed mongo at the ultraskate, but I regularly switched my stance as well, using a back to front slide transition I‘m calling the chi-skog. At first it might seem impracticable and time consuming to do this extra transitioning move, when you could just push mongo. But in reality it is all a question of muscle memory. When you always train to ride this way and you are getting used to it, it will happen effortlessly during your ride and be not disturbing anymore. Skogging like this can also have it‘s advantages compared to pushing mongo. When pushing mongo, you will have to balance a lot before getting your foot all the way back to the front of the board. With the chi-skog you just step out with your leg as when pushing mongo and just move your other foot on the deck a little bit to the front, giving the board an additional forward momentum.

Skogging this way allowed me to use my muscles, tendons and joints in both of my legs in an equal way. Together with the focus on a relaxed chiskogging style and relaxed „pedidextrous“ pumping (alternating between pumping in regular and goofy stance), I managed to keep a quite constant riding flow without putting too much stress on my body. Considering that I am in my forties, not being one of the youngest guys anymore and that I did not have any specific ultraskate preparation, except for three shorter rides of 40 to 50 km in the weeks before the event, I know that it is due to skogging in chipushing style that I could go beyond the 100 miles relatively easy at my first try. I also had time left to take some rests in between to eat something and decided, not to skog during the night, as I knew that I would easily reach my desired distance.

 

Another nice side effect was that I also experienced less muscle pain afterwards which also disappeared quickly in two days after the event. In fact the pain was located only in the groins and a little in the butt area as well, which where the parts of the body I engaged the most when chiskogging, because of swinging my legs from the area of the hips. If I would have trained this strain more specifically before the event and if I would have kept up the chiskogging style more accurately throughout the whole time of my ride, I’m sure the pain could have still been minimized or even avoided entirely. 

Photo by Stéphane Bisson
Photo by Stéphane Bisson

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To optimize the way you walk will benefit the way you push!

For me the bad thing about winter is that I don’t skate as much as I would like to. But what I found out the recent months is, that even if you cannot skate due to bad weather conditions, you can still always train and prepare yourself for distance skateboarding in a very simple way: by focusing on the proper walking technique.

 

So how will this work and what is the proper way to walk? Amongst barefoot enthusiasts and fitness coaches there are different opinions on what is the best and most natural way to walk. Some propagate the so called fore-foot walk, where you first let the balls of your foot touch the ground before putting the rest of it down. Although this is a method widely used when running, it is doubted to be as efficient for the purpose of walking. Researches indicate that fore-foot walking is not the natural way to walk for a human being. The other extreme is to walk using a heel-strike. This is the most common way to walk, as we all usually put down our heels first before completing a step. But an over exaggerated heel-strike (as provoked by our cushioned shoes with their raised heels) can put too much burden on the knees and back on longer walks. Thus the best way to walk seems to be the method of mid-foot landing, where the whole foot is brought down to the ground almost at once while distributing the body weight over the center of the foot sole.


In terms of yin and yang this seems to be the perfect symbiosis of the two other extremes (as both have their advantages and disadvantages) and a natural and efficient way to walk on longer distances. This method of mid-foot landing is also part of ChiWalking as described in the book „ChiWalking - Fitness walking for lifelong health and energy“ by Danny and Katherine Dreyer. To practice ChiWalking is a great way to benefit ChiPushing as both have a lot in common; starting with the alignment of the spine and body and continuing with how to move your legs in the correct and relaxed way.

 

Of course you could also train for distance pushing by practicing ChiRunning. But the motions when walking are slower which will make it a lot easier to control the correct way to move the legs. In addition you don’t have to prepare yourself by changing your clothes like when going for a run. But the best thing is: walking as a necessary part of our life can be done almost everywhere and anytime throughout the day.

 

How is it done? The correct way to perform mid-foot landing is to let the feet touch the ground directly beneath your body’s center of gravity. This is the main difference compared to heel-landing where you would extend your legs in front of the body to let the heels touch the ground outside of the body’s center of gravity. For proper mid-foot walking it is necessary to extend the legs more to the rear than to the front. Although as a natural part of balanced walking every step will also let your legs reach out to the front a little. When doing it right your legs will swing from back to front with each step like a pendulum, but without fully stretching the legs out in the front. If you are not used to this way of walking or if your muscles in the front area of your hips have shortened due to a lot of sitting on chairs, you will probably feel a stretch in your hip flexor muscle at the top of your upper leg. That’s a good sign. After the rear leg comes to the front, the „hard“ contact with the ground will happen with the middle area of the foot and beneath your body. This whole way of movement is very similar to the way of ChiPushing, where we also use the center of our foot to land on the ground. We can also easily transfer this walking principle to the Chi-Skogging transition of moving the back foot to the front of the board. That’s just to name a few of the similarities.

 

Finally this way of walking can also benefit your pumping ability. This may sound weird, but try mid-foot walking for yourself and you will feel how it activates the muscles in the back of your lower legs. The same muscles are also much used in the wiggly LDP-style of pumping. A beginner who is not used to the method of mid-foot walking will often start to feel pain in the calf muscles after some time. The same can happen when pumping. The good thing is that with training your body will adapt itself. With time you will also learn how to walk more relaxed. The pain should then disappear.

 

Of course it is possible to train these parts of your legs directly with specific muscle training, too. But ChiWalking still remains a gentle and effective method to prepare and train for long distance pumping.

Long Distance Pushing as the best fitting way for the human body to actively move by using assistive equipment

Distance Skateboarding can keep you fit and provide you with the same health benefits you would expect from practicing any other endurance sport. But what makes it exceptional is: Pushing a skateboard is one of the most natural and least stressful ways fo

This statement is no exaggeration, if you push in an upright relaxed body posture and use a pushing method with less impact on your bones. So here is some further explanation:

 

One fundamental advantage of pushing is, that you can use the skateboard as a tool to carry your feet. When running, the impact for the feet in the moment of touching the ground can be quite strong. If your heels are the first part of your feet that comes into contact with the ground or if you have a pronation when running, you will most probably damage your joints sooner or later. When pushing, the impact happens in the moment you are putting your foot down to the ground to propel yourself forward. But since you are standing with one foot on the board while already rolling forward, you have more time and control to prepare your step to the ground. This way it becomes possible to minimize the impact when putting your foot down by first moving it into a preferably low position above the ground before making a smooth step. You don‘t have this advantage when running, since running means to lift your back foot off the ground already before the front foot will again be landing on it. Otherwise you wouldn‘t be running but walking. When running you are actually performing a constant series of jumps. Because of this it is not possible to control the power of the impact in the same way like when pushing a skateboard.

Regarding the impact for your joints and bones, pushing also has another advantage: When running both of your feet are constantly engaged. But when pushing, you can keep one foot on top of the deck for some period of time and this way remove the stress resulting from the continuous stepping against the ground. This is especially true for the method of ChiPushing, because the leg on top of the board is completely relieved, pushing the board forward in a relaxed way without exerting downward pressure, as all of the body weight is carried by the leg touching the ground. If you switch sides to push with the other foot, the leg previously stepping against the ground will then take over the position on top of the board and get some relieve. Skogging (skate-jogging by alternately using both legs) is an important part to reduce stress for the body when pushing.

 

Finally another important ergonomical aspect that makes pushing a skateboard a very natural and one of the least stressful ways to travel, is described by the fitness and mobility coach Dr. Kelly Starrett in his book „Sitting is the new smoking“. He writes about the health advantages of passive standing in contrast to our modern lifestyle of too much sitting for long periods of time. Although he doesn’t mention skateboarding in his book, the principle he describes can be very well transferred to the act of pushing: When standing for longer periods of time, we like to lift one of our legs on top of an obstacle to bring it into a slightly higher position, because the resulting change in the area of the pelvis will help to take passive stress from our lower back and spine and allow us to stand for longer without feeling fatigue. Dr. Starrett takes the example of bars in pubs where people are drinking in a standing position. Some of these bars have poles at the front. The guests can rest their feet on these poles, which makes it easier for them to stand longer and to consume more drinks. It is easy to see the similarity to the body posture when pushing. Of course I don’t want to say, that all skaters are heavy drinkers, but the foot on top of the board is just the same in a higher position than the other one. In ChiPushing we use our foot standing on the deck to move it forward. This movement with the leg standing slightly higher on top of the board additionally helps to bring the pelvis into a favorable and stable position, that makes it easier to adjust the spine and to reduce stress in the back. Considering this we can see, that dropped decks are not necessarily better in every aspect of pushing.

 

When done correctly, pushing a skateboard is a simple yet efficient way of moving around, allowing us to transfer the same relieving principle that reduces stress when standing for longer periods of time, to create an efficient and least stressful way for our body to travel longer distances.

The difference between alternating both legs for pushing, switch pushing and skogging

Pedidexterity

 

It looks to me that in the perception of many distance skaters the phrases "alternating the legs", "switch pushing" and "skogging" have no difference to their meaning and are often understood to describe one and the same thing. But from my undestanding about what the term skogging stands for and from my own experiences with using both legs for pushing I will try to explain the differences I can see.

 

Although "alternating both legs" and "switch pushing" can be used to describe skogging, they are not necessarily synonymous to the full meaning of it. If you look at the definition of skogging given by Chris Yandall, the inventor of this skateboarding style, it's basic characteristic is: Trying to be pedidextrous. Pedidexterity means being able to use both of your feet to perform a task in an equal way, just like ambidextrous people are adapted to using both of their hands in the same way to do something like writing for example.

 

If we take this definition, we can see that everyone of us already has experiences about being pedidextrous: Every time we walk or run we have to use both of our legs alternately. And when doing this we perform our strides in an equal way with both sides of our body. Although people usually have a weeker and a stronger side, this does not show when using the legs under normal circumstances. So I call this a pedidextrous skill, through which it becomes possible for us to move forward efficiently. In my view this principle of using the legs in an equal way should be the basic requirement for skogging, too. After all it is jogging with your skateboard.

Even when standing on the board with the feet pointing straight forward our body will still be slightly turned to one side in the hip area. On the image above this is indicated by the elipse. This way the starting position for pushing is different for each leg. The result is that every time we push each leg is used and trained in a slightly different way.


For ChiPushing I like to use a basic foot position like shown on the image above. The front foot is pointing straight forward while the back foot is placed with the toes pointing slightly to the side. This way your stance on the board is more firm and secure during higher speed. As a result the hips and torso will be turned even more to one side. Because of this it is even more important to switch between goofy and regular stance instead of just pushing mongo, if you want to train both legs in an equal way.

Alternating both legs for pushing

 

Some Skaters are using both legs for pushing, but not in a purely pedidextrous way. They are only alternating between pushing regular and mongo or goofy and mongo. But this means that they are keeping their original stance (either goofy or regular) and when using the other leg they just take their front foot off to push on the opposite side of the board. There's no doubt that using both legs this way can be efficient to push on longer distances and it already takes a good amount of practice and balance to use your front foot with the same effectiveness you are using your back foot. But while doing so you are still not changing your original stance. If you are goofy, you stay goofy and if you are regular, you stay regular. The only difference is, that you are alternating between using your back foot and your front foot for pushing. Of course this can be a good way to start learning to be pedidextrous, but this method itself is not pedidextrous in the real sense of the word.

 

Even if you stand on your board facing straight forward, like a lot of distance skaters do, your body will still be turned a bit more to one side in your hip area. This way you are not using both sides of the body in a completely identical way. You will feel this if you exchange the placement of your feet on the board by putting the back foot to the front and the front foot to the back. Even if you are well trained in using both legs with this method, after the exchange you will still not be able to push with the same effectiveness than before. The reason is that you have failed to train your body to adapt itself to pushing mongo with the other foot. This is a sign that you have not yet completely mastered pedidexterity.

 

Of course mongo pushing can be a part of skogging, as you can see in the videos of Chris Yandall and Steven Meketa on YouTube. But it is wrong to think that you are already skogging when actually limiting yourself to only pushing mongo on one side. This can only be a beginning or supplementary skill of skogging. There is still much more to accomplish when using both legs alternately.


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ChiPushing and ChiSkogging

When I started to make this "project" public by going online last year in November 2015, I used the Name "ChiPushing". This term reflects my idea to transfer principles from the ChiRunning-technique (developed by Danny Dreyer) to pushing a skateboard, as the movements of running or jogging have a lot in common with the pushing done by skateboarders. The name ChiPushing refers to the basics of how to push more effortless and injury free while using the whole body holistically and in an attentive but relaxed way; creating the conditions for the Chi to flow. From the very beginning it has been obvious to me that using both legs had to be an essential part of the method of ChiPushing. Only this way it would be possible to create a balanced workout and skate in the most efficient way. So I started to develop a footplant or footslide method (whatever you want to call it), that allowed for an easy and seamless switch between goofy and regular.

 

At that time I asked myself, if it could be possible that I am the only one seeing the need for using both legs equally for pushing? So I searched the internet if I could find something about pushing with both legs. Of course I discovered that I was not the first one with this idea. Pushing with both legs alternately even had a name and was called Skogging (skateboarding and jogging). From this day on I was always drawn to the Skogging-pages and the videos on YouTube about Chris Yandall (the skog-father) and Steven Meketa skogging. But since alternating both legs for pushing was only a necessity for me to avoid overuse of one leg, I usually switched sides only after a longer time of pushing with the same leg. That's why at first I didn't really associate myself with Skogging. Especially when I saw that skogging also involved pushing mongo, which was a move that didn't seem efficient enough for me to be integrated into ChiPushing.

With time passing I found it to be fun to switch stances more frequently. Eventually it became obvious to me that what I did could actually be called a form of skogging. I just didn't know if I should still call it ChiPushing or give it another name. One day I was posting on facebook and got a reaction from Steven Meketa. He wrote something like: "Go on and let the world know about ChiSkogging." And I thought: "Yes that's it. This is actually a nice name for it."

 

But it still took me some more time to realize that ChiSkogging can describe more than just a way to do ChiPushing with a constant change of your pushing stance. After getting familiar with the basics of the technique you can transfer the ChiPushing-principles to cruising and pumping as well (which can all be performed pedidextrous by alternating between goofy and regular stance). When pumping for example you can try to let the movements start from the center of your body down through your legs, mainly using your abdominal muscles while relaxing your legs and the rest of the body as much as possible. The same is true when performing other skogging transitions to change sides while pushing. You can use the moving principles from Tai Chi even if pushing mongo, which actually is a nice practice as it will challenge your ability to keep balance in a new way.

 

Although ChiSkogging is a term people outside the LDP-Community will not understand without further explanation, the combination of the wordparts is a nice expression of the fusion of components from the three types of bodily activities that make this style of skateboarding unique and ensure it's effectiveness: Tai Chi, Skateboarding and Jogging.

Dutch Ultraskate 2018 - Thoughts of a 100 mile skogger

Photo by Andre Abtmeyer
Photo by Andre Abtmeyer

My first participation at a 24 hour ultraskate just happened from the 7th to the 8th of july in Spaarndam, Netherlands. My personal goal was to skog at least 100 miles. In the end I reached a distance of 109 miles (176 km). Looking back it seems, to reach this 100 miles club was something almost everyone of the long distance enthusiasts at the dutch ultraskate 2018 could achieve easily. There were even a lot of people going more than 200 miles. Probably this is because people spend more attention to their setups and to proper training and preparation. Another reason could be that a lot of people are alternating their feet when pushing nowadays. So skogging might be a main factor, too. However, I have to face it: In the world of serious distance skateboarding, the distance I accomplished seems to be quite common these days (at least at an ultraskate) and remains only good enough to astonish an ordinary city cruising longboarder. So, of course my distance at the ultraskate will not be the main topic of this text.

 

I would rather like to talk about skogging: One main reason for my participation at the ultraskate was, to prove to myself that skogging is not just a good cruising exercise but that it can also be beneficial when riding for very long times. When I’m talking about skogging, I refer to full „pedidexterity“ style skogging, which means switching the stances and not only pushing mongo when alternating the legs. Of course I also pushed mongo at the ultraskate, but I regularly switched my stance as well, using a back to front slide transition I‘m calling the chi-skog. At first it might seem impracticable and time consuming to do this extra transitioning move, when you could just push mongo. But in reality it is all a question of muscle memory. When you always train to ride this way and you are getting used to it, it will happen effortlessly during your ride and be not disturbing anymore. Skogging like this can also have it‘s advantages compared to pushing mongo. When pushing mongo, you will have to balance a lot before getting your foot all the way back to the front of the board. With the chi-skog you just step out with your leg as when pushing mongo and just move your other foot on the deck a little bit to the front, giving the board an additional forward momentum.

mehr lesen

To optimize the way you walk will benefit the way you push!

For me the bad thing about winter is that I don’t skate as much as I would like to. But what I found out the recent months is, that even if you cannot skate due to bad weather conditions, you can still always train and prepare yourself for distance skateboarding in a very simple way: by focusing on the proper walking technique.

 

So how will this work and what is the proper way to walk? Amongst barefoot enthusiasts and fitness coaches there are different opinions on what is the best and most natural way to walk. Some propagate the so called fore-foot walk, where you first let the balls of your foot touch the ground before putting the rest of it down. Although this is a method widely used when running, it is doubted to be as efficient for the purpose of walking. Researches indicate that fore-foot walking is not the natural way to walk for a human being. The other extreme is to walk using a heel-strike. This is the most common way to walk, as we all usually put down our heels first before completing a step. But an over exaggerated heel-strike (as provoked by our cushioned shoes with their raised heels) can put too much burden on the knees and back on longer walks. Thus the best way to walk seems to be the method of mid-foot landing, where the whole foot is brought down to the ground almost at once while distributing the body weight over the center of the foot sole.


mehr lesen

Long Distance Pushing as the best fitting way for the human body to actively move by using assistive equipment

Distance Skateboarding can keep you fit and provide you with the same health benefits you would expect from practicing any other endurance sport. But what makes it exceptional is: Pushing a skateboard is one of the most natural and least stressful ways fo

This statement is no exaggeration, if you push in an upright relaxed body posture and use a pushing method with less impact on your bones. So here is some further explanation:

 

One fundamental advantage of pushing is, that you can use the skateboard as a tool to carry your feet. When running, the impact for the feet in the moment of touching the ground can be quite strong. If your heels are the first part of your feet that comes into contact with the ground or if you have a pronation when running, you will most probably damage your joints sooner or later. When pushing, the impact happens in the moment you are putting your foot down to the ground to propel yourself forward. But since you are standing with one foot on the board while already rolling forward, you have more time and control to prepare your step to the ground. This way it becomes possible to minimize the impact when putting your foot down by first moving it into a preferably low position above the ground before making a smooth step. You don‘t have this advantage when running, since running means to lift your back foot off the ground already before the front foot will again be landing on it. Otherwise you wouldn‘t be running but walking. When running you are actually performing a constant series of jumps. Because of this it is not possible to control the power of the impact in the same way like when pushing a skateboard.

mehr lesen

The difference between alternating both legs for pushing, switch pushing and skogging

Pedidexterity

 

It looks to me that in the perception of many distance skaters the phrases "alternating the legs", "switch pushing" and "skogging" have no difference to their meaning and are often understood to describe one and the same thing. But from my undestanding about what the term skogging stands for and from my own experiences with using both legs for pushing I will try to explain the differences I can see.

 

Although "alternating both legs" and "switch pushing" can be used to describe skogging, they are not necessarily synonymous to the full meaning of it. If you look at the definition of skogging given by Chris Yandall, the inventor of this skateboarding style, it's basic characteristic is: Trying to be pedidextrous. Pedidexterity means being able to use both of your feet to perform a task in an equal way, just like ambidextrous people are adapted to using both of their hands in the same way to do something like writing for example.

 

If we take this definition, we can see that everyone of us already has experiences about being pedidextrous: Every time we walk or run we have to use both of our legs alternately. And when doing this we perform our strides in an equal way with both sides of our body. Although people usually have a weeker and a stronger side, this does not show when using the legs under normal circumstances. So I call this a pedidextrous skill, through which it becomes possible for us to move forward efficiently. In my view this principle of using the legs in an equal way should be the basic requirement for skogging, too. After all it is jogging with your skateboard.

Even when standing on the board with the feet pointing straight forward our body will still be slightly turned to one side in the hip area. On the image above this is indicated by the elipse. This way the starting position for pushing is different for each leg. The result is that every time we push each leg is used and trained in a slightly different way.


mehr lesen

ChiPushing and ChiSkogging

When I started to make this "project" public by going online last year in November 2015, I used the Name "ChiPushing". This term reflects my idea to transfer principles from the ChiRunning-technique (developed by Danny Dreyer) to pushing a skateboard, as the movements of running or jogging have a lot in common with the pushing done by skateboarders. The name ChiPushing refers to the basics of how to push more effortless and injury free while using the whole body holistically and in an attentive but relaxed way; creating the conditions for the Chi to flow. From the very beginning it has been obvious to me that using both legs had to be an essential part of the method of ChiPushing. Only this way it would be possible to create a balanced workout and skate in the most efficient way. So I started to develop a footplant or footslide method (whatever you want to call it), that allowed for an easy and seamless switch between goofy and regular.

 

At that time I asked myself, if it could be possible that I am the only one seeing the need for using both legs equally for pushing? So I searched the internet if I could find something about pushing with both legs. Of course I discovered that I was not the first one with this idea. Pushing with both legs alternately even had a name and was called Skogging (skateboarding and jogging). From this day on I was always drawn to the Skogging-pages and the videos on YouTube about Chris Yandall (the skog-father) and Steven Meketa skogging. But since alternating both legs for pushing was only a necessity for me to avoid overuse of one leg, I usually switched sides only after a longer time of pushing with the same leg. That's why at first I didn't really associate myself with Skogging. Especially when I saw that skogging also involved pushing mongo, which was a move that didn't seem efficient enough for me to be integrated into ChiPushing.

mehr lesen

Review: Skogging in Amuri Z-Trek Barefoot Sandals from Xero Shoes

Although it is already fall now and summer is gone, I want to let everyone know about what I think are the best barefoot-sandals for distance skateboarding. Luckily I still had the chance to test them recently on some warmer days.

 

For quite some time now I have been a big "fan" of moving in a way that is natural and healthy for my feet and the rest of the body. Part of this is to incorporate more barefooted movement in my life. When running I usually use huaraches (barefoot sandals) to get a little protection for my feet and this works quite well. But pushing a skateboard in traditional style huaraches has always been an unsatisfactory experience to me.

As these sandals are attached to the feet with the help of thin shoelaces, they don't sit tight enough to prevent your feet from slightly slipping around on the sole. As a result the lace next to the big toe always caused a rubbing sensation that could be quite annoying. I made this experience while pushing and especially when skogging. Tightening up the laces more did not help for me and made wearing the huaraches rather more uncomfortable.

 

But riding a board without any footwear doesn't really seem apropriate to me. I know that some people do skate barefooted and they are doing it quite well, which of course shows that it is possible. But while skating with higher speed or going for longer distances, I personally like to have some protection for my feet to avoid injuries, because scratches on the soles or sides of the feet are more likely to happen when you go faster than just in a walking or running pace. Of course I could always take Vibram Five Fingers which I think would be a better choice than using traditional huaraches. But I know from running in Vibrams that they have a rather stiff sole and the seperate holes you have to force your toes into always gave me a constrained feeling which is still quite different compared to moving around in huaraches.

Carving with Amuri Z-Trek from Xero Shoes

The sandals can be ordered on www.xeroshoes.com.

Xero Shoes Amuri Z-Trek Barefoot Sandals
Slogging with Amuri Z-Trek from Xero Shoes

So I always wished to find a solution one day that would fit tightly on my feet while at the same time allowing my feet to have that pure barefoot feeling when pushing or skogging. Recently I heard of Danny Dreyer (inventor of the method of ChiRunning) using the Xero Shoes sandals for running. As he praised them to be very good running sandals, I hoped they would work for my distance pushing as well. And indeed, they are exactly what I have been looking for. Instead of shoelaces they use a strapping system which allows the sandals to be attached to the feet more tightly and secure than with usual huaraches. The flat straps also make them more comfortable, avoiding any grinding sensations. Once you have customized the straps, the sandals don't need any further adjustment and fit like a second skin. Another result of this tightening system is that when it gets colder outside you could even wear your usual socks with them instead of having to buy special toe-socks.

 

The Xero Shoes sandals come in two versions: The Amuri Z-Trek with a 5,5 mm sole and the newer Umara Z-Trail with a sole of 10 mm. As the Z-Trail was made with trail-running on unpaved surfaces in mind, I intentionally chose the Z-Trek for maximum barefoot feeling. The thin flexible sole really gives you the same feeling as if being barefoot but with the needed protection for fast pushing. But I am aware that the Z-Trail, having a thicker sole and nonetheless being 20% lighter than the Z-Trek, might be the better sandal for the really long distances.

 

The first time I tested my new Xero Shoes sandals was on a short 14 km push going slightly uphill. Although I had two little blisters on my feet afterwards this was nothing tragical and owed to the fact that I first had to find the right way to push without any dampening shoe soles. Later I adapted my pushing and did not experience any more problems.

 

As the manufacturers claim that both of their sandals have a very durable sole and even give a 5.000 miles warranty on them, I could not help but test the sandals while frequently footbraking on my 14 km ride back downhill. As you can see on the photos I made afterwards, some areas of the soles are already a bit worn down. But the rubber-sole seems to be quite durable, as the result doesn't look worse than what you would expect after footbraking with other skate or running shoes. Nonetheless the sandals are of course not made for excessive footbraking. But for the purpose of long distance pushing and skogging, when you don't necessarily need to do much footbraking, they are the best barefoot-sport-sandals I am aware of.


Testing the Whatever Skateboards Meketa Bamboo Skogger and relearning to push

I have to admit, that I always prefered dropped boards for pushing, as the platform is closer to the ground, creating stability and making it easier to push in general. But as my personal understanding of skogging increased over time I felt the need to add a surfier way of skating and a better pumping ability to my skogging workouts. I decided that for this purpose the best choice would be a top mount board without any drop. As the Whatever Skateboards Bamboo Skogger from Steven Meketa posesses these characteristics together with a nice large platform which is slightly wider in the front (which is good for pumping) and a flex that made me curious, it was an easy decision to get that board, even though it is not available from within europe.

(The deck can be ordered at Whatever Skateboards.)

 

When I finally got it my first impression was that it appeared to be really huge. Although it is only slightly longer than my big dropped pusher I usually skog with, it has even more deck surface as it is a top mount board without wheel-cutouts. I asked myself, if it would be possible to pump this large board easily. But with the Carver CX. 4 /C2.4 trucks pumping the Bamboo Skogger was really easy and despite the length of the board, they allow for the surfy ride I was looking for. From my experience so far I would say, that this top mount set-up with Carver trucks is a very good combination for serious long distance pumping that even allows you to throw in some really narrow surfy turns. Actually the result is not that surprising as we all know from slalom boards that the best decks for pumping are top mount and are not dropped.

 

But for distance pushers there is usually a downside to these set-ups, because the board is located rather high above the ground. This is especially true if you are using Carver trucks as you need enough space between the wheels and the deck to avoid wheelbites. To push non-dropped boards you have to bend your knees to a greater extent with every push which on longer distances will tire the leg standing on the board much faster. Of course there are so called hybrid boards that are still pumpable but usually also have a lowered platform to allow for easier pushing and so the result you get cannot be compared to the pumping performance of a higher top mount board.

Whatever Skateboards Meketa Bamboo Skogger

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Yin Yang Skog

This is a way to skog that in my opinion merges the moving pattern of running with pushing the board in a very natural way. It fits very well into the ChiPushing principles and I call it the Yin Yang Skog. The more I practice it, the more addicting it becomes. :-) 

 

The deeper meaning of the the Yin Yang Skog:

 

Both feet touch the ground successively in an equal way, highlighting the "goofy" and "regular" pushing stances of skateboarding. In this movement they can be compared to the two forces of "yin" and "yang" which are likewise showing themselves in a steady change while laying a foundation for the switch to the other side. Only together they make everything really whole and balanced. This principle brought to pushing a skateboard manifests itself in skogging, which uses goofy and regular stances to create a way of truly stanceless skateboarding.


ChiPushing Power Start

Demonstrating the gravitational force of leaning forward together with accelerating the board by pulling instead of pushing (video in slow motion).

An effortless yet powerful way to start pushing.


The advantages of moving with a longboard/skateboard

Or: Why all runners should do pushing

 

The invention of the wheel has enabled humans to travel longer distances more quickly and in a power-saving way. As finds from the past show this happened even prior to the use of domesticated horses for the purpose of riding and can be considered a revolution in moving. In addition to running the use of carts and carriages is probably the most original, simple and most natural way of moving (due to the at least partial use of renewable resources and the simple way of using the power of animals or man himself).

 

As we all know, the skateboard did not evolve out of four-wheeled carts, but was first invented by surfers with the use of wheels on surfboards. And it is exactly this influence from the field of surfing (where flat boards are used for riding the waves) in combination with wheels necessary for moving on land which make a skateboard the most interesting, most varied and most useful of all wheel-powered means of movement. Thus it has the potential to once again revolutionize the transportation on wheels in our present time. The unique surfy feeling while gliding on the board in an upright position can not be achieved with inline skates, roller skates, scooters or skikes. 


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Correct body posture for ChiPushing and short demonstration of how you can start to chipush a longboard following the grounding stance:

Before starting to push you should always check the correct body posture so you can easily maintain it throughout the entire distance push with your board. The right body posture is identical to the grounding stance that helps you to better connect with the ground beneath your feet and your board. The conscious adoption of this posture is especially important for beginners. After you get used to it and you can relax your body more and more, allowing the Chi to flow freely, you will be able to take it very quickly and automatically, as your body can sense what is the best posture to take.

 

Tilt your hips forward and flatten your lower back area while going down into your knees as if sitting down on a barstool. Straighten your spine and bring your upper body


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Grounding the body for better pushing, pumping and longboard-dancing

Grounding (making a firm connection between the body  and the ground) is not a purely theoretical keyword from esoteric circles. It is a truly achievable and experienceable state in which the correct posture of the body and the use of the center of gravity can create an ideal stability and a sense of secure connection with the ground, which is also often compared to the deep rooting of a tree. It may seem like a contradiction but a firm connection of the body with the ground is the requirement that makes it possible to move really free and effective. Then the movements performed are supported by the power of the earth. We can use this principle from Tai Chi to our advantage to achieve the perfect balance while skating.


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Natural Running - Easy Pushing

As human beings we are made for running and travelling long distances. Some animals might be a lot faster when sprinting over short distances, but no other living being on earth is capable to run for hours in a constant speed like we can. The bodies of animals would overheat and finally collapse. As they don't have the transpiration system we have to already cool our bodies down sufficiently while running they have to stop after moving fast for a while. This is the advantage our ancestors successfully used to survive as they could hunt down an animal until it was too weak to go on. If you are an atheist you can say that evolution has made our bodies perfect for running. If you believe in god you can say that god has created for us a body perfect for running. However, the truth is that we are born to run and to use our legs.


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