My name is Trevor
A funny name for an American, I know.
To be honest, I have no idea how I got that name. No plane crashes or famous 19th century ballet dancers had any contribution or influence on my naming.
What do I know about running assessment? I'm just a triathlete.
I was a happy triathlete until about a week ago, then:
What do I know about running assessment? Aren't those done in Antwerp?...
many injuries and terrible form during the barefoot running trend in 2010/2011 when a "good" shoe came out to wear instead of pulling all the skin off me feet running on sidewalks in the suburbs. I believed my running form was getting better, and therefore faster when I transitioned to high tech race flats, diligent work with foam rollers as big as trees, and all the stretching in the world. The wool over my eyes blinded me from being able to see just how poor my running form actual was. Well, to be more current - "is."
I first noticed the awkward look of my leg positioning in race pictures. I always shrugged it off to the timing of the shot. Last year my irregular form became much more visible when I was being treated after an accident that left my hip injured. The doc took footage of me on a treadmill and the imbalance in my stride was all but subtle. Without a focused corrective measure, my body compensated during the healing process by using other muscles and my natural gait changed. What did I end up with? More strain than I needed. Inefficiency. All of the things a type-A athlete doesn't like to hear or think about.
Triathletes are always looking for what's referred to as "free speed" - a concept of going faster without working harder - and results from making improvements or enhancements to optimise run form. Additionally, this free speed is only a single benefit of run form improvement:
- Running faster
- Ability to avoid injury
- Being able to run with an Injury
All of those sound good to me.
Thinking forward to the 2014 season, I want to be more proactive about preparing for a faster, less injury-prone race schedule. Just like knowing my base fitness for training, I want to know where my base was for my running form. What do I really look like when I run? Do I stride like Ryan Hall? Or do I flail about?
How I think I run.
How I actually run.
|QWOP it likes it hot.|
Even my walking gait is all jacked up.
|Haters gonna hate.|
I scheduled a run analysis with Rachel Fox (who is a badass), at Rose Physical Therapy Group in DC. When I arrived she was waiting with her mobile desk and had two cameras set up by a treadmill. I knew this wasn't going to be pretty. My full trust was placed in the abilities of Rachel, who has a ton of experience in Physical Therapy.
She began by asking me a number of questions about my running history and any preexisting and/or associated injuries or pain during or as a result of running. Next was a full body assessment to determine muscle imbalances and other musculoskeletal problems that could lead to injury or a poor running gait. This assessment includes muscle testing, range of motion testing, and looking at joint mobility. During the assessment evaluated my functional positions (squat, single leg balance, single leg squat, and jumps and hops), all of which I'm rubbish at performing, and thus help her determine my function weaknesses. Rachel also looked at my foot structure in weight bearing and non-weight bearing positions. Her initial review of my structure would be used to create a framework to reference when comparing my performance on the treadmill - a compare and contrast analysis, if you will. For example, imbalances in foot structure may cause an asymmetric walk/run gait, yet have no impact on performance. The human body is like Ikea furniture - pieces sometimes don't line up because they weren't cut properly at the factory, but you can fudge it to make it work.
I was asked to wear dark, tight-fitting exercise clothes (or for me, my normal attire) which would aid Rachel when she reviews the footage of my run on the treadmill. To further aid her in her video analysis, she loaded my body up with coloured stickers on major pivot points on the spine, hips, knees, and ankles - creating reference points to my body angles using fancy software for run analysis.
|Even my standing posture is rubbish.|
The next stage of the process was movement on the treadmill. Shoes off, walking pace, Rachel had me walk for a while as naturally as I could.
She warned me, however, that during filming she'd only need to grab about six seconds of footage, yet she had me walking for about six minutes - the purpose being to let me settle in my natural walking gait and not let me force a proper gait because I know I'm being watched. I didn't know when she took the footage, so I just walked how I normally would down a hallway. First, without shoes, then with shoes to see how wearing shoes corrected my step. I'll note that I pronate a lot without shoes, but with shoes it's nearly 100% neutral.
Next came the run filming - in two stages: Warm up and tempo.
My warm up is around one to two miles, and thus the
duration of the first segment of run footage. Like the walk stage, she
would have me run at a warm up pace and take her six seconds of footage
at some point when I've settled into my real run form. We repeated the
same protocol at tempo for the second stage of run filming.
This had become my workout of the day! In the process I managed to lose a number of stickers from my legs, but I think she got the film she needed before they finally fell off.
We sat down watched some of the film to give me an overview analysis and compare it to her assessments made before my run. Using fancy technology and software she drew lines and made angles from the dot stickers to look at joint angles from a lateral view to determine any asymmetries, range of motion or strength deficits, hip obliquity, heel strike, cross over, lower extremity alignment, spinal alignment and trunk rotation issues I may have. And they were numerous. The pictures above really capture how my feet cross over and my ankles pronate. Having the software to actually measure the angles of the bend really drive the message home that I've got some fixing to do in my gait.
Basically, my hip is dropping it like it's hot and I have some major crossover issues (as you can see in the rear view video above) that make it look like I'm running down a catwalk trying to shake what God gave me. Rachel was kind enough to draw some
stick figure lines technical angle lines to measure my joints and evaluate my angles vs the acceptable ranges associated with each. She pointed out areas of excessive pronation in the foot and a massive drop in my hip during part of my stride and foot strike. I can now visually see exactly, and graphically, how jacked up I am right now.
Much of my poor form results from weakness in my hip, undoubtedly from my accident last year. Additionally, it reaffirms other folks telling me I need to strengthen my core and work on flexibility all around! Rachel guided me through a series of stretches and exercises using my own body weight and a foam roller to help fix my problem. By the time I got home from my assessment I already had an email with graphical descriptions of how to rehabilitate my form and start running more efficiently.
Knowing is half the battle, but getting myself to do it is always the challenge. If I want to see results in my run form, I'm going to have to be very diligent about doing my exercises and therapies in accordance with what Rachel prescribed.
|the moment of deepest...what?|
The power is mine to get my body in line or to continue to run like Goofy. We'll find out at some point in the next few weeks.