For the run analysis that we offer, it is extremely important to understand the athlete we are working with and the goals that they have set for themselves. To start off, I like to get into the weeds about what people do with their training. If you’re following a training plan, I want to see the mileage, exercises, and the strength training that you’re doing during the week. By getting these specifics, I can plug in holes and see where things are going wrong and what could be causing the athlete’s issues. We do a very detailed history; We do a combo of performance tests and orthopedic physical exams to gives us a good insight into that person’s unique anatomy. Where are they strong? Where are they weak? What of their body is structural and what is functional? Something that is structural is something you cannot change, such as the alignment of your hip joints - no amount of stretching could change that. These tests help us determine what can be treated or what we need to adapt around. This is a very important part of the session. Following these in-depth tests, we get people on the treadmill and watch them run.
“You impact your run form, and your run form impacts you”, this is getting back to the idea that we each are unique and some of those things you can’t change. This is important to recognize because it brings to light that not everyone can have the same run form. It would be unfair to say that everybody should be a mid-foot striker because maybe not all our anatomy allows for that. That is what the performance and functional tests help us with. Our tests are broken down into three things: mobility, stability, and strength. When you’re running and you are in single leg stance, that leg is under 3-5 times your body weight. As a runner you must be able to absorb that force and dissipate it into your muscles and not your joint. The speed of which you run is also dictated by how much force you can create. At any given point your foot is only on the ground for a couple milliseconds, so your brain must be able to recruit your muscles quickly. When there is a delay in muscle contraction, that is when we begin to develop issues. These tests can help us see how quickly someone is absorbing and transferring the force. If there is a deficit there, then we can program that through exercises to address those things.
The athletes that come and see us are of all abilities. I have seen pro triathletes, pro runners, and people who want to start running and are interested in learning the correct technique. This session can be geared toward whatever you need it to be. Whether it’s geared toward performance or just towards how you should be running. The first thing we do for the run analysis is a visual inspection, which includes a slow-motion analysis of both sides as well as posteriorly. Here are some of the things I will look at: stride pattern, vertical translation, arm swing, stride length, hip stability, foot position, knee position, cadence, and overall run posture.
Here are some of the other things we measure throughout the run analysis. The first one is impact magnitude, that is how much impact per step you land on the right leg versus the left leg. A poor score indicates a higher risk for overuse injuries. Our goal is to land with equal force on the treadmill. Here we can see the difference in the runners based on the colors that appear through their run graphs. We also measure impact duration, which shows us the amount of time it takes for the force generated from striking the ground to reach your hip. Ideally, we want it to take a longer time for this force to go up to your hips, because that means that your muscles are absorbing the force well. Lastly, we measure dynamic stability, which is the amount of pelvic movement you have when you run. Our goal is to limit as much pelvic movement as possible.
We obtain all these measurements through a belt that is worn on the waist. The software transfers data over to the iPad so that we can see how hard they are landing with each leg, how much they are absorbing forces, how much their pelvis is moving, etc. The iPad shows this information in real time, so when I’m coaching the runner, they can see what is going on and try to actively make changes as they run.