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

More Power Leaks: Part 3

Good Morning peoples! A few weeks ago, we introduced posts about potential areas for power leaks. click here for #1, click here for #2

The common areas for leaks are:
great toe dorsiflexion
mm strength test
loss of ankle rocker
loss of knee flexion/extension
loss of hip extension
loss of balance/ proprioception

let’s take a look at a video of the next 2, with Dr Ivo and his partner in SCR, Dr John Asthalter:

Power leak 2: Muscle strength test

you need adequate strength in both the short and long extensors of the toes, for arch integrity, the windlass mechanism as well as appropriate ankle rocker

Common compensations include:

externally rotating the foot and coming off the inside of the great toe. this often causes a callus at the medial aspect of the toe. This places the foot in more pronation (plantar flexion, eversion and abduction) so it is a poorer lever.

lifting the foot (and bending the knee) excessively (knee flexion > 60 degrees) to create clearance of the toes for swing phase. This is sometimes referred to as a steppage gait.

hiking of the hip, again to create clearance for the foot

Power leak 3: ankle rocker

ankle rocker is needed to move the body mass forward in the gravitational plane. It is one of the 3 rockers (for a rocker review, click here).

Compensations for loss of ankle rocker can include:

premature heel rise

shortened step length

excessive pronation through the mid foot

external rotation of the lower extremity and “rolling off” the inside of the great toe

forefoot strike gait

Ivo and Shawn. Giving you the information you need to make informed clinical decisions and build better runners, wherever you go! Spread the word of gait literacy!