Running Ugly Sometimes Wins Marathons.

There are many running gurus out there. There are numerous running form clinics out there.  Everyone knows someone that can tell you how to run better and show you things you should be doing to improve your running.  But should you listen ?  That is the problem, should we listen ?  There is the old adage that “if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it”.  Sometimes that is true as well. But lets face a fact, most people that come into our offices do not come in with the request to make them a better runner, rather they come in asking us to help them resolve a problem or injury that is stopping them from becoming a better runner.  

In this video, the two elite runners are clearly not made from the same mold.  There is no question, even to the uneducated eye, as to who is the more comfortably appearing and “cleaner” runner.  The fella in the orange represents much of what we are all told a runner should look like posturally.  But, it is clear that the fella in the blue is having no problems keeping a comfortable stride with the guy in the orange even though is form looks labored from a postural stand point.  But remember what we always say, what you see in someone’s gait is quite often not their problem, it is their compensation to cope with a problem.  And compensations are needed because we are all never 100% clean and biomechanically efficient. Back to our point, telling Mr. Blue to retract his head and lift his chest may not be what the run doctor ordered.  Changing this one glaring fact could be the thing that injures him or reduces his efficiency amongst other things.  Just because you don’t like what you see doesn’t mean it is wrong for that person or that it needs to be changed. This is why a clinical examination along with a gait analysis is imperative for solid advice. For example, what if this guy has a scoliosis or some other structural problem that has made his thoracic spine more kyphotic  thus producing a more accentuated cervical lordosis and an extended and protracted head carriage ?  Changing in this case that posturing may not be possible for him or may create problems elsewhere.  AGain, just because you do not like it doesn’t mean you should change it.  

So the next time you are at your local store or some marathon event tent and getting form running advice from an “expert”, take it with a grain of salt because there are so many pieces of the puzzle that they are not seeing or understanding.  This is the big problem with the internet and all of its guru’s and their advice.  The next time someone says, here is our go to video for resolving shin splints, take it with a grain of salt. Even if it is us giving the advice on one of our podcasts, because without the examination probably 90% ?? of the information is absent.  If you make a change in someones form, there must be a reason and a goal and you must be prepared to catch any fall out from those changes and know what to do with them.  This is where clinical experience comes in.  So the next time your favorite running site or running magazine gives what appears to be sound advice for chronically tight IT bands, think it over, take it with a grain of salt, and make a sound judgement based on what your body is doing with its unique limitations and pay attention to the results and possible positive and negative outcomes.  Change is inevitable, but is it good for you ?  That is the question.

Oh, and by the way,these were the marathon’s leaders, Benjamin Bitok and Nixon Machichin, both of Kenya. Bitok (in blue) went on to win in 2:13:21, 46 seconds up on Machichin.  

It just goes to prove that what good running looks like ,and should be better in our perfect little world, and of what the websites and magazines tell us about what is right, doesn’t always lead to improved performance.  However, we wouldn’t suggest you start running with Bitok’s form because he is awesome (even though some kids in his home land may do just that because modeling is the greatest form of compliment.)  But, what do we know ? We are just two more self-proclaimed guru’s trying to set the record strait, from our experience and perspective. 

Shawn and Ivo, 

the gait guys

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