As you know, I have had quite a few setbacks this year. As the rest of my life seemed to slot into place, my running appeared to be moving in the wrong direction. In the build up to Chicago, I felt weak, and had injuries to restrict my training even more. As you saw, I went through a minor depressive state with my running, and I was very negative towards it.
Steve had to deal with this, and knew it was time to do something drastic. We have known for years that I have inefficiencies, and throughout my collegiate career, I could get away with them. Running a sub 16:10 5k may be tough, and bad form probably prevented me from going sub 16, but I still could run a respectable time. In the marathon however, I have proven that I can no longer brush these under the carpet, and hope for the best. It is time once and for all to fix those biomechanical problems….well as best I can, if I want to have any hope of reaching my dreams of running a 2:30 marathon someday.
We looked all over the country, researching the best facilities, and short of flying across the country, which would have been a little too much for our budget to bear, especially with a wedding next year, we found the next best thing; a clinic initially set up by one of the best biomechanists in the country; Jay Dicharry.
It seemed like fate that they had one opening available before christmas, and we jumped on it, moving our plans around to fit it in, and on Tuesday afternoon, we took the 6 hour drive to Charlottesville, Virginia.
The next morning, we checked in to our 9:30am appointment with Max Prokopy, who led us down to the lab. After talking for a few minutes about what our morning would entail, we began with the testing.
Max and his assistant placed sensors all over my body, covered up everything that could be considered reflective, and strapped a large sensor to my back. I then warmed up using my Dynamic Warm Up Exercises as I usually would before running on their specially designed treadmill for around 10 minutes total, warming up from a walk to a run, and eventually getting down to around 6 minute pace per mile. Interestingly, they told me I could run at any speed, as the results would come out the same. I would have thought they needed me to go all out, but I guess when you know what you are doing, and you have the right equipment, you can see the problems even before they become exaggerated when you get tired 🙂
As they collected the results, I filled out some paperwork on my injury history, goals for the future, and shoes. We then spent the next hour or going over a range of tests. This included:
- Range of motion testing
- Balancing (with and without my orthotics)
- Demonstrating my current Strengthening Exercises
- Taking measurements of muscles, joints, bones, and tendons
- Questions about various aspects of my training history
Finally, we were on to the part I was most interested in; looking at the findings! In addition to a video analysis, Max showed me a 3d diagram of my skeleton running, which showed the forces, and where they shot up my body. It was incredibly interesting. They also had a number of graphs about the various planes at each stage of my stride, and explained where I was inefficient, and how it affected each area.
This was very insightful into a lot of things Steve and I have tried to work on over the years. I have tried to fix my arm swing on many occasions, but just could not do it. Now we know that a lot of this was because by body was trying to balance itself, it also explained why I am so good at hills. My quads have become such powerhouses, that they are basically taking on everything for all my other muscles!
For the next hour, Max demonstrated a number of new exercises to me, a lot of which I physically could not do, which visibly frustrated me at times. It was great to see what I need to work on, and how basic I have to go. I also ran up and down some hills, after incorporating some new exercises, and I honestly believe the downhills were easier, and my form felt better after he explained it all to me.
Steve and I were in the lab for over 3 hours, and it was a lot to take in. Thankfully they have given us a copy of everything, in addition to videos of each of the exercises done correctly and a very detailed prescription of what to do. I am going to have to work very diligently at them over the next few months, but I should improve quickly.
Once of the most interesting things Max is going to have me doing is using heavy weights, up to 90lbs of weights for some exercises. I have never lifted with anything more than 15lbs, and although I am a little intimidated, he was by far the most knowledgable person in this area I have ever seen.
The only other major change is I am going to wein myself off my orthotics, Max found that my foot control was very good, and he gave me the go ahead to use pretty much any shoe, but being very careful with stability shoes as they will encourage me to overstride. I think for now I will stick to the Saucony Kinvara, but I definitely intend to try out some other Saucony shoes.
There is way too much information to share on here about what they found, and I am sure you would be bored out of your minds, but I thought it would be interesting for you to read about the procedure itself. I would recommend it to anyone, and although $350 may seem like a lot of money to spend, if you think about all the money you have spent in rehab or injury relieving equipment, it is worth it. If $350 is just a little too much to bear, you can use the Runners Connect Form Course for under half the cost. This will give you a lot of insight into your running form, and give you individualized suggestions to what you can do to improve your efficiency.
I don’t know about you, but for me, $350 was worth it to know that I put myself at a much lower injury risk, and I can go after my running dreams with confidence, and an excitement to run that I have not had for quite some time. I would say for a runner, that is priceless.
UPDATE: I was so impressed, I went back to UVA 6 months later, and had a lot more to learn, the results were staggering!
Have you ever had a gait analysis? How much money would you pay to fix your running form?
Such interesting points! The idea of muscle/joint/tendon balance is so cool I think, especially when you start realizing how those things impact everything in your running plus injury patterns.
This is fascinating and I would so love to do something similar. It’s very interesting that you don’t have to go ‘all out’ for the inefficiencies to show up! I’m also surprised at the heavy lifting!? Very interesting. Good luck getting off your supports and hope all this data helps you to new PRs in 2015!
This is so freakin’ cool to read about! I’m coming back after work when I have time to slowly read it all.
Have a fabulous Friday friend!
I loved this post. I am such a nerd for biomechanics. The closest gait analysis to me is at NYU, which I would like to do someday. Even though I’m in my 40’s and not an elite, I would like to have longevity in my running and keep going, injury-free, until I’m an old lady. I think that fixing some things with my gait will help that. Thanks for the info.
Ok, I have to admit, I was hoping to hear he’d tell you to wean off the orthotics! UVA is really top notch and it’s so great you took advantage of it. With their advice, your talent and work ethic, the sky is the limit for you, Tina!
Ugh, I would have loved to have seen this. And for all the info you got, I would have thought it would be way more expensive! Interesting as well that they are going to wean you off of the orthotics. I would love to work towards that as well, but I’m scared to!
i’m excited to follow you along the strength road. More weight will be interesting. WE still need to catch up. This weekend?
That’s really fascinating stuff! It’s crazy to think about how even the smallest muscle imbalance can throw everything out of whack for us. Hopefully all the advice you got will give you the results and improvements you’re after 🙂
I would totally pay $350 for this! I am glad you found out what you can do to correct you inefficiencies! I am sure it will help you in many ways!!! I find this very interesting and love the charts that show everything in detail right vs left.
Wow! So interesting! This sounds like just what you need to get back on track! I’ve had simple gait analysis done, but I’m not serious enough to do this. So cool!!
This is awesome! Wish I could afford it. I’ve had a gait analysis before but never to this extent! Very cool!
Wow – what a great experience and I agree with you – in the big picture $350 is well worth all of the information that you gained. I hope you show some of the exercises/moves they showed you!!!
Tina this is fascinating! I may not be an elite, but $350 for all that information definitely seems worth it. I’d possibly pay that down the road just to learn more about my body and where I can make improvements.
This is awesome Tina! I hope this helps you reach your goals in 2015…I think it will 🙂
So glad that you jumped on this opportunity. There are certain things in life that you need to splurge on, especially when it comes to wanting to accomplish your dreams. This is going to be very cool to watch you progress and make the necessary changes…especially when lifting 90 lbs! 🙂
That is really interesting! I recently did a gait analysis myself and found it very helpful. hope you found what you need to move forward and feel better.
Wow, some great information Tina. I am so happy for you that you did this and that you are going to be trying some new things. If I still lived back there I might consider it, although I’m not sure I’ll ever be that fast, or if it really matters for me, but I can see how an elite like you could really benefit from this. Thank you for sharing this with us!
This is so fascinating! Good for you for taking the initiative to go and get all that testing. You clearly found out some great info about your running.
This is so interesting, Tina! I hope everything they found and prescribes truly does help! Interested to see your progress!
This is such a great post Tina. I love learning more about biomechanics and how our body works. What a wealth of information!
Wow so cool. And what a great price. I wonder if there’s something similar in the UK to this? I’m consistently getting injured and it’d be great to understand why and how I can improve on my running form in the best possible way.
Have been considering this myself for a while now. Just seems to be something that is wrong with my form that is leading to some injuries! Well worth $350 and thank you for sharing. Some excellent information!!
awesome post and very fascinating analysis. I am in full agreement that investing in understanding root cause and working on prevention is the best policy. Happy Running and Merry Christmas! (BTW, I found your site via Laura Peifers’. I ran with Laura for about a year until she moved from Houston back to NJ/NY).