Last night, an academic medicine orthopedic clinic in my town offered a FREE (yes, free) class with the title "Running, Injury, and Performance Enhancement". This is the same health care system that provides the running evaluations for $100 that I did last year.
I didn't have any expectations for this class. I thought I would attend because obviously the topic interests me and my hip/foot crankiness has me a little on alert.
The class was scheduled to go for 90 minutes and ended up being a full two hours and was FANTASTIC. While I felt the running evaluation I did was definitely worth the $100, I felt that this FREE class was much better. In fact, if one went to the class, I don't know that the $100 evaluation would be worth it.
The class started lecture format with some slides explaining current research in running injuries, footwear, and stride. The three physical therapists that gave the class were much more strongly in the "midfoot/front foot strike pattern is the best" than the PT that I had last year for the evaluation which I thought was interesting. I am a definite heel striker and I left convinced that I should probably work on changing that, after the marathon of course.
After the lecture, we moved into the gym. They needed two people to volunteer to do video analysis. As you can imagine, my hand could not have shot up fast enough. I was the only long distance runner in the group. The other person chosen for video analysis was a sophomore high school runner. The two of us went and had a functional mobility test on four areas of our body before we were told to run on the treadmill. The rest of the class went to the gym area where everyone was given the same functional mobility test.
We then rejoined the group and were taught a strengthening and mobility routine that, for best results, we should do 3-4x a week. They watched us do the exercises, providing form correction and guidance through each. The routine was interesting as it was definitely more focused on "mobility" than static stretching. It very much aligned with what I read in the Ready to Run book I reviewed here.
Finally, we went back into the "classroom" and watched the videos of our running. I was happy that I had had a hard workout yesterday morning and that I was doing the treadmill running on tired legs. I vividly remember that during my first running evaluation, I had super fresh legs and was very conscious of being filmed and only had to run a mile so it was no surprise that my evaluation did not have any red flags since most red flags are very apparent when you have tired legs!
FAST FORWARD to last night where there were some red flags and aha moments:
1. My left hip drops while running, which is likely part of the reason for my right hip tenderness. My functional eval showed a tight psoas and tight rectus femoris (RF) on the right side. Bottom line, I need to strengthen my glutes and hips. Lots of "monster walks" in my future.
2. My left arm swings more than my right and my functional eval showed some tightness in my upper back. Prescription: twist stretch. These are very popular in the Jasyoga videos and now I know why! If your upper back is asymmetric, that can affect arm swing which can affect your hips. They also taught us these twist movements with a medicine ball which would strengthen that upper back area as well as my hips.
3. Heel strikers unite! Yep. I'm a heel striker. They were quick to advocate trying to switch this to midfoot strike to alleviate any risk of injury later on, especially since I am, gulp, aging. Apparently my body is absorbing 2-3x it's body weight with every heel strike. WOWSA. They seemed to think that if I could focus on having my feet land more under me (vs. overstrike - which also showed up in my previous evaluation), I would naturally be more of a midstrike runner since my cadence was in the low 170s. (Goal=180).
4. This was not showing up on the video, but he noted that my right ankle had limited mobility - he estimated it was 2-3% where the goal is 4%. He guessed that was from the hip issues and that if I could strengthen my glutes and hips, the foot pain that I have been having would resolve.
All in all - SO HELPFUL and I left with some targeted exercises and the materials to do them. FREE.