Running Form

Some time ago the sports doctor I'd been seeing suggested I needed to get my running form looked at - I think he was struggling to figure out what was going on but we now know it was down to Osteogenesis Imperfect or Brittle Bone Disease which I'm having some treatment for.

Whilst looking for anything to try to reduce injury I started reading a lot more about mid/forefoot striking rather than heel striking. The many orthotics I'd had didn't work and the logic seemed sound so I started to make the transition a few years ago.

For once I took it steady and didn't get any of the terrible calf pain the purveyors of orthotics told me I would! However, what I did experience was pain in the peroneal tendon / muscle area. At the time I associated that with the stress fractures I'd been getting so just did the usual cycle of rest / run / injure. Since the peroneal's function is eversion, supporting the arch, I guess through helping decelerate as the foot moves in I figured it wasn't getting used much in a midfoot strike so there had to be something else wrong.

Since the drugs to slow down the rate of bone activity (bone is a living thing that constantly breaks down and rebuilds) appeared to be working I figured I really did need to look at my form - you can't really do that yourself or look it up on google! Some time ago I'd come across http://www.kinetic-revolution.com/ which has some fantastic resources and looked ideal, it's not a million miles away so I booked in for a session at Battersea Park's athletics track yesterday.

It's the first time I'd been to Battersea Park, there were lots of runners, some recumbent bike things, what looked like a ladies hockey team training, a rounders match and bizarrely two blokes with swords having what I hope was a training session and not something I'm going to see on the news later!

I met James Dunne in the reception and after the obligatory form filling we had a chat about injury history and he explained how the session would pan out - a warm up, some filming of me running and debrief and some structured exercises. We headed off to the track for a warm up and James commented that he often sees people getting on the track and heading off at a great rate and to take it steady. So with those words ringing in my ears I promptly set off slowly then probably went too quickly - I blame the distraction of an acrobatic school at the side of the track, not something you see every day.

After the warm up we got into the filming session, 4 laps of the track in quite a sticky heat resulted in me finishing up sweating like I'd been in a sauna but at least there was some good footage of what I'd been doing. This was followed by some analysis of hips, flexibility etc and then we sat down to look at what could be improved.

Looking at yourself running is a bit weird, you don't really have a clue about what you're doing beyond what you can immediately see and if you look down then you're probably doing something different anyway!

Side on my right foot strike looked ok, landing midfoot but not under the knee, so a slight over stride. My left foot was slightly more heel strike but again foot not landing under the knee. James talked about the hips needing to come forward more and the foot being placed under the knee rather than what was currently happening where my foot was being flicked forward during the gait cycle causing it to land slightly further than it ought to.

From the rear you could see that even with a midfoot strike pattern there was a lot of pronation - I'd mistakenly believed that by not heel striking you'd eliminate pronation. This explains the peroneal pain and James reminded me of some reasearch I'd seen some years ago which suggested it wasn't the level of pronation that caused issues but the rate and that 'whip' as the ankle turned in was what causes the problem. This was accentuated with a dip in the shoulders, hips though were pretty parallel.

Front on you could see what was a bit of a cross-over gait, my feet landing bang on an imaginary line between the legs, this wasn't helping with the pronation or where my foot lands.

So, with all that to work on I was shown some drills to improve control, engage the hip and glutes more effectively together with some strengthening. After the first set of exercises it immediately felt different, it seemed as though I was standing taller, hips more forward and placing my feet more. It felt springy and quieter around the track. The strengthening exercises were agony, I clearly don't use my glutes enough, it was agony and I'm feeling it today!

All those times I thought it was running off road that was the cause of my meandering, clipping the insides of my legs and it was me all along. I'll soon be armed with a doc and the details of my drills and stretch plan so I know how often to do each. The real benefit was going through them and knowing how they feel - that's the advantage for me.

I really enjoyed the session, James is a really nice bloke and explained everything clearly and simply, seeing everything in action and having it explained to you was a real light bulb moment. If you're thinking of seeing a running coach do, if you're near James or can travel to him book in, it'll be worth it.
Running Form Running Form Reviewed by Karl Hoods on 11:53:00 Rating: 5

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