Occupational Kinetics run gait analysis

After a busy day of running trails and helping out at the Maverick Multisport kids practice on Wednesday, I was really looking forward to a massage and some more treatment at Occupational Kinetics.  This time, instead of focusing on my lower back (which is feeling much better after doing stretches and exercises Mike Rowles gave me to do), Erin, the massage therapist, worked on my sore legs.  My hamstrings were the worst after covering 32 miles running the day before.  Even though I felt as if I needed to jump off the table a couple times, I knew that my legs would feel a lot better after she got them to relax a little.

One thing I really like about Occupational Kinetics is how closely each person works with the rest of the team.  Erin told Dr. Bee what she found during the massage and let him continue correcting the problem.  It was another 15 minute session with Dr. Bee with some ART  and some readjusting of my thoracic and lumbar spine.  Then it was on to watching the run gait videos that Mike Rowles took last week and looking at snap shots of my stride.


We started off looking at the profile of my run gait and how my foot strikes the ground.

Looking at these two pictures, you can see where my foot makes contact with the ground initially and then where I the point in my stride is where I bear weight on the leg.  The right picture is the one with my body weight on the leg.  If you look at the forefoot, knee, and chest, there is a straight line right through the three points.  It should be this way just having the chest slightly in front of the knee.

In this snap shot, Mike Rowles added a grid to the picture to give us a sense of where my leg is just before swinging it forward.  My ankle is just slightly higher than the knee, which suggest I have a good ankle kick when pushing off the ground.  It also uses less energy (and takes less time) to pull the leg through for the next step having the leg higher than having the ankle below the knee.  Think of a pendulum.  The longer it is, the more distance it has to cover before it reaches the same degree on the other side of vertical.

This is another shot of my stride from a side profile.  This time Mike Rowles was looking at my forward lean and head tilt.  Elite runners tend to run with a 10-12 degree forward lean. I’m on the low end of “normal” with my forward lean.  But, that being said, when I had a run gait analysis done by my coach in September of 2011, my forward lean was about 6 or 7 degrees.  This is very important for increasing running efficiency because when running more upright, energy goes into over coming gravity and pushing the runner up into the air more instead of forward motion.  When leaning forward the running gains more ground per step.  For example, if you gain one extra inch per step, the end result is astronomical.  At 180 steps per minute that comes out to 15 feet further per minute.  At an hour, you’ve now covered about .20 miles more than previously.  Not to mention, the fatigue rate will be less because of less pounding on the legs and running mechanics being more efficient.  My coach told me a little over a year ago, by changing my forward lean, with all other things being equal, I should be able to run a marathon about 10-15 minutes faster.

Now we’ll move onto the posterior views.  But before we do that, watch the video again at the top and cover my lower body with your hand.  Now do it again, but this time cover the upper half of my body with your hand.  Did you notice anything?  If you were looking closely, you should notice my upper body stays very straight, with no swing from side to side.  But, my lower body zig zags.  This would explain, at least partially, why my lower back gets tired and sore.

Now for some measuring of angles:

Notice in this picture how each leg crosses the midline.  This is due to tight groin muscles.  Mike gave me some stretches to do to fix this.


Take note of the right picture.  Notice how when my left leg hits the ground, my right hip drops.  However, when the right foot hits the ground, the left hip stays level.  This is consistent with the hip weakness they found when having me do one legged squats a week or so ago.  Mike Rowles stressed the importance of doing the exercises he gave me last week, but wants me to do them and a new one once a day with three sets for each exercise. 

Hopefully after doing these exercises after a few weeks, the angles will be corrected or improved when we video tape them again.


Adventure trail and swiftwick sock review

Yesterday I took an adventure across the Ohio River with an ultramarathoner, and good friend, Troy Shellhamer to check out a new trail that neither of us had ran on.  With the weather the way it was the night before with rain turning to snow we decided to wait until mid morning to head out just in case the roads were bad.

As usual, Troy did his homework on researching the trail.  He said that it was approximately 24 miles long with only 1800 feet of elevation gain during it.  He did preface it with he wasn’t sure how accurate the GPS file was he was looking at was.  I figured we would be out there for about 3.5 hours and packed food and mixed up enough Infinit Go Far formula to accommodate such a run.  I also decided to take out my new pair of Swiftwick Socks that I just bought a few days ago.  It was a different style than I had run in before.  This time I was using the Aspire version of their sock line.

With all the rain and snow during the last few days, the trails were not only hillier than expected, but also very slippery.  We crossed several small creeks and streams.  Just during the first few miles.  We eventually arrived at the Junction where the loop of the Adventure Trail starts.  The trail was in need of some maintance at the beginning, but as we got deeper and deeper into the woods, the trail actually became better.  We ran beside Indian Creek, the Blue River and even the Ohio River.  Little did I know, until Troy enlightened me, that we were also running through the most cavernous place on earth per square mile.  Who would have thought that in the middle of no where in Southern Indiana that there would be more caves than any other place in the world?  The park also made improvements on the trail and added some camping shelters along the way.  I took a quick catnap while Troy explored the camp:



We went up and down several ridge lines… and because of that, I’m positive we went over the estimated 1800 feet of elevation gain during the first 10 miles!  We continued crossing more and more creek beds.  If there is one thing I hate while running, it’s wet feet.  But even with all that water, my feet managed to dry out quickly thanks to the moisture wicking quality of Swiftwick socks.

About 4 hours into the run, I took my last gel and was getting a little worried since my Infinit was about to run out.  We had no sign of the junction.  Thankfully, Troy’s wife, Kara, made him pack more food than normal for this trail run since we weren’t sure how well it was marked or how accurate the GPS files were.  I began to get a little worried as we reached the 5 hour mark and still hadn’t made it back to the junction… and crossed the 24 mile mark about a mile ago.  I started having visions of finding shelter in a shelter and camping out for the night.  I began to get a little light headed and dizzy.  I told Troy that I was zapped and needed some food, badly.  He helped me out and it was just enough to stomp through the mud a little further.  Long story short, we made it out of the woods after about 5.5 hours.  We stopped at a gas station and bought some snacks and drove back to Louisville, where I was about to meet the Maverick Multisport’s Kid team for practice at Mary T. Meagher for a run workout.

I arrived at Mary T. and switched shoes.  I went outside to wring out my socks, and was shocked that I couldn’t get any water out of them at all.  The Swiftwick socks were nearly dry enough after all that water we ran through and being in wet shoes during the car drive back to Louisville.  We did a warm up and then did something that my coach calls K-pump workout:  30 seconds at mile race pace, 30 seconds recovery in a series of 5.  We did that 4 times while watching the sun set.

By the end of the day, I covered about 32 miles running.  I’ve used a lot of different moisture wicking socks in the past with a 8 year history of racing triathlons, but swiftwick is far superior to any other that I’ve used.  They dry out faster, keep my feet from getting blisters.