Test Your BRIQ: How Well Do You Understand Push-Off?

By Jae Gruenke | Natural Running Form

May 01

It’s quiz time again! Test your Balanced Runner IQ by answering this question:

When you push against the ground with your foot, what’s the most important thing you’re pushing forwards?

The great thing about knowing the answer to this question is that it gives you a very simple key to running faster, easier, and healthier.

Share your best guess in the comments below and why you think it’s correct. I’ll give you the answer in next week’s blog post, along with a shout out to the people who got it right.


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About the Author

Jae Gruenke, GCFP, is a running technique expert and Feldenkrais Practitioner. Known as a “running form guru,” she is the Founder and CEO of The Balanced Runner™ in New York City and The Balanced Runner UK. She has helped runners from beginner to Olympian improve their form to become pain-free, economical, and fast.

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(37) comments

John Link May 2, 2021

HEAD: If my head is pushed forward then everything between my foot and my head is working together move all of me forward. If my head is not pushed forward then there’s trouble in the transmission of force from my foot.

I need to explore how this applies when I’m riding my bike.

Isabelle Nadeau May 2, 2021

Your pelvis?

joan acton May 2, 2021

I think you are pushing off through the back of yourself via your glutes (that power the stride to a large extent) and up through your forward lean skeleton maybe in a sort of spiral to your head.
This is how I imagine it anyway!!!!!

Bhauliya Moss May 2, 2021

Hi Jae I think you are pushing the opposite side of the body – so the opposite pelvis/glute and of course shoulder and arm forward

Anne May 2, 2021

Your chest?

Dave Bradley May 2, 2021

Interesting quesstion. I assume I’m using the force (not Star Wars) to push my weight forward and upward.
Look forward to the real answer

Nick Pearce May 2, 2021

The hips

Lisa Warren May 2, 2021

The idea is NOT to push against the ground with your foot! 🙂 Lots of love to you and gratitude for all I’ve learned from you-my running is transformed!<3

Sending you uplift and joy in all you do!


    John Link May 3, 2021

    If you don’t push against the ground, against what do you push?

Stephen Coughlan May 2, 2021


Alex May 2, 2021

The hip is the answer to your quiz.


Gopal May 2, 2021

Your body

Mindy May 2, 2021

when you push off your foot should be flat and hip, knee and ankle are fully extended.

Helene Bindner May 2, 2021

The opposite hip is moving up and forward allowing the opposite leg to move forward.

Beth ODowd May 2, 2021

Opposite side of pelvis…..?

Karen Glennemeier May 2, 2021

I think it’s the front of the hip!

Nan May 2, 2021

Your head…(When you push against the ground with your foot, what’s the most important thing you’re pushing forwards?)

sai santhosh May 2, 2021

Forward Lean should be correct. Then footstrike will be correct and we can push forward easily with less stress on ankles and shin usinh glutes and hamstrings

Suzanne L. May 2, 2021

Your head/face. I remember a comment you made about running being a “ball” sport in which the head is the ball.

Kathleen Dugan May 2, 2021

Opposite hip

Cecilia Arregui Olivera May 2, 2021


Joc May 2, 2021

Your opposite hip.

Kate Bray May 2, 2021

Head? Then the rest follows…

Staffan Dahlgren May 3, 2021

Pushing the opposite hip upwards and forwards initiating upper body counter rotation.

Stefano May 3, 2021

The pelvis and I think in particular the opposite hip, then it moves all the upper part of the body.

Martin Hellström May 3, 2021

My hip (and, by extension, my torso)

Carrie-Anne Weirs May 3, 2021

Could it be shifting our weight to one side and to another by utilising most of our body action; the core, torso rotation, internal rotation of our adductor along with the hamstrings to provide backward motion against the ground and armswing.

Once the standing leg hit the ground, the foot engage to stabilise, the adductor and medial hamstring are also engage in a backward motion when the core; the pelvic rotate downward and backward while internally rotate to the swinging legs. (This will provide the power)
Then at same time the torso counter-rotate the opposite pelvic motion by allowing the upperbody (lats and shoulder) to rotate upward and toward the swinging leg while the arm swing diagonally toward the midline. This will then begins the shift toward the other side.

[The swinging leg … pelvic tilted upward externally slightly in forward motion. The torso, lats pull backward along with the shoulder and armswing diagonally backward]

I think have read/heard someone mentions imagine a Corkscrew action.

When I have been doing these action I usually do not feel the active pushed off, just let the motion carry me forward.

Sarah May 3, 2021


Jane Hart May 3, 2021

The most important thing you are pushing forwards is your head.

Euan Doak May 3, 2021

I want to say opposite knee, push with the left foot, drive the right knee. But you’ll probably say opposite hip…. 🙂

Walter Severini May 3, 2021

When you push against the ground, mid stance on, you are reacting to the release of the compressive force of loading on the body to elongate your whole body during unloading. This is the primary force that moves you forward. You begin to see that your leg muscles primary purpose is not to directly propel you forward but to effectively transfer ground generated forces, to the rest of your body to propel you forward.

Joe May 3, 2021

Like your drill with walking while sitting down, I think initiates with pelvis

Larry Alder May 4, 2021

In terms of going “forward” I feel like it is the same side shoulder that is going forward but it doesn’t feel driven by the push of the foot so much. I do I feel like I am pushing/driving the opposite hip a bit forward but mostly up.

Laura Thomas May 4, 2021

Hi Jae
I paid attention to this question while out for a jog today. I have to say that it rotates the same side hip/ pelvis forward an inwards and also the same side shoulder pushes in the same direction. So a slight twist at the front of the hip and pelvis with the shoulder moving in the same direction as the push off. Perhaps it helps with rotating the body and the upper body to assist with power?

Matie Holtzhausen May 6, 2021

Perhaps the collarbone (or rib cage just behind it) on the same side. That might imply a good counter rotation and lengthening of that side of the body.

Heather May 6, 2021

Counter rotation of sternum???

Mark May 9, 2021

Thinking it was pelvis all week until today when I ran 11 miles into a headwind. Now I think head.

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