Saturday, August 18, 2012

Baywatch in Two Parts (Part Two)

For Part One Click Here
Speaking of punking out early, the reason I only swam for 40 minutes this morning was because I had an appointment with a physical therapist to talk about my running injuries. I made the appointment back when I couldn't run and could barely ride, but still had plenty to talk about. We discussed triathlon, my PT is also one of the tribe, and he quickly pinpointed my problem areas with a few questions and tests. Turns out my right leg is weaker than my left. I did a few one-legged squats and there was all kinds of inward wobble. That plus a few "Pull against me" and "Resist this pressure" tests confirmed it. Weak hamstring and gluteus minimus muscles mean a funky stride. Funky stride means greater risk of injury. So he showed me how to do hamstring curls using a balance ball, one-legged wall squats/supported squats, and side steps with a band around my ankles for tension.
Then, being a cool PT, he checked their schedule and lo and behold, a running clinic was starting in two hours and it had an opening! So I signed up, ran home, grabbed workout gear and Bikilas, ate a bagel, and headed back.
This was fun. They did a lot of talking about various stride choices, but pushed POSE Running heavily, focusing on a mid foot stride. I figured I had an in with this since my shoe choices pushed me into that style of running two years ago. Surely that would mean I had an edge.
Well, kind of. We got to do a video analysis of our running, first from the side and then from the front, and then they went through them one by one in slow motion telling us what they saw and how to fix it. My list, while not as big as some, was not exactly small.
The first this they noted from my video was I was still overstriding a little bit. I was the only person in the group with no heal strike and a very minor overstride, but it was there. The foot should contact the ground right under center mass with a lightly bent knee for impact absorption. I was still kicking a little bit forward.

They also noted that I'm wasting a lot of energy running with my elbows high my arms at smaller than 90*, which makes sense. I'm never as relaxed as I want to be. The last thing from that video they pulled was that rather than having a slight lean forward from the ankles to allow gravity to help me move forward I'm running straight up and down. Which is better than leaning back, but not great.
From the front view the PT confirmed that yes, I am dropping my hip on the right side, which would be caused by the hamstring/glute weakness and would cause the problems I'd been complaining of.
 Lastly, we did some drills to help get our feet under us and to strengthen all the muscles we should be using. The one I think will come in the most handy for me is focusing on making a 4 with my legs each stride. So pulling though the hamstring rather than pushing off or bounding. I don't think I push off too much and I know I don't bound because that would ruin my feet and ankles in my ultra-minimal shoes, but I'm also not pulling into a figure 4 like they suggested. You can see the 4 in the blue guy above, but you call also see it in this neat model below.
I'm thrilled I got to do this. It was through the Army hospital, Super Awesome Wife benefits! Being through the military, I was kind of surprised about all the talk of POSE running and mid foot stride and, while they never said we should go buy minimalist shoes, they did say a more minimal shoe is better. AND they suggested doing a few barefoot runs on grass, short 100yd cruises back and forth, to find your form before putting on your shoes to run. The Army is telling soldiers to run barefoot to fix their stride. This feels significant to me.
I haven't been thinking too much about stride recently. Well, not any further than, "I hope my stride isn't going to hurt me." For a long time I was running comfortably. If I was relaxed and comfortable and smooth, it was good. Now I'll be back to thinking a lot about what my body is doing. There are lots of things to work on, so I'll be slowing down and working them one by one. Can't try all of them at once, I'll get lost, confused, and fall down. And on non-run days I'll be working the drills and exercises they gave me. Times will get slower for a while, but that's ok. We think long-term here at Dirtbag Fitness.


  1. He said your Glute Med was weak, not minimus. That is the muscle responsible for hip drop, also a muscle that is weak in everyone but those who consciously strengthen it. When at all possible, do your exercises in front of a mirror so you can see if you're still compensating.
    Are you continuing PT?

    1. I didn't schedule another PT yet. He kind of made it sound like, "We are really busy so if all possible do these things and you should be fine. if not come back."
      Also, I do everything I possibly can in front of a mirror.
      That comment to my sister wasn't weird at all.

  2. I read the pose book last year. It has really helped me, especially with running long distances. I need to get better at the figure 4 thing. When I am conscious of it I do it, but when my mind wonders (which happens pretty often), I get lazy.

  3. I read about the gluteus thing affecting /causing running injuries in the last Running Times. It had a few glute exercise to try that I noticed helped me with my stride and pulling my heels up higher behind me. I noticed that without trying for that effect. Neat!

    Is also neat about the military encouraging some barefoot running to strengthen feet. That's terrific!