You must do the things you think you cannot do.
Eleanor Roosevelt

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Gait Analysis

Today was the big day. I woke up before the chickens so I could make the 30 minute drive to the quaint little town of Shepherdstown, WV for my gait analysis appointment with James at Two Rivers Treads. I took Hank along with me just because I thought it might be fun for him (hey, we're homeschoolers so everything is an opportunity to learn something new or have fun).

I think the idea of the clinic is that they run it for whoever shows up. So if 10 people are there, they do it for 10 people. Which would mean that each person would have less individual time because the clinic is only 2 hours.  This morning was just Hank and I, and we ended up being there for over 2 1/2 hours. Wowza!

We got off to a great start because I'm not a heel striker, not even close. If anything I figure I strike too far forward. Since he didn't have to go through all the 'why heel striking is bad for you' info, we were able to get right into proper alignment which I thought would be a big issue for me.

Tidbit: In a 9 year period I was in 4 car accidents (crazy, I know). Twice I was broadsided by a car going 45-55 mph on my side. Rearended at about 40mph (guy never applied the brakes) and then the only one that was my fault, I rearended a car while trying really hard to stop. My lower back hurts almost all the time to varying degrees, I get random muscle spasms in my neck and my left hip and shoulder are a little lower than my right hip and shoulder. So I was all set to hear that my alignment stunk and I was going to limp like Igor while I ran not matter what I did.

While we were talking about my hip problem the store owner, Dr Mark Cucuzilla came in.  He suggested we see just how inflexible and weak my hips are by doing a couple of stretches. They whipped out a massage table and I lay on my back at the very edge so my hiney was almost off the table, held one knee to my chest while the good dr. tried to see how far down towards the floor my other leg would go. Ha! Let's just say I'm not flexible and neither leg went very far.

The next test was also very simple...and I failed it too.  I stood with both feet on the floor, properly aligned and lifted one foot to just above mid-calf level. A strong hip would support me and I wouldn't have to cock my hip out or bend my knee. My hips are not strong and I had to shift my hip about 3 inches outward to keep my balance.

Next it was time to videotape me while running. Very, very, very thankfully it was almost 40 degrees when we went outside to run - as opposed to yesterday which was like 20 or something equally horrible.

We headed down to a relatively level patch of sidewalk and he taped me making two passes by with shoes and then once without shoes and we headed back to the store to videotape me on the treadmill....and I almost fell of the treadmill. Not once but twice!! So embarrassing!

He downloaded the video onto his laptop and we watched me run in slowmo... I was doing the sound effects to the 6 Million Dollar Man in my head. 

What we found:
* My head - I hold it pretty straight so no change needed there
* My shoulders - Relaxed so no change
* My candence - Around 84/85 with shoes and 88 without. 90 is the desired cadence so I need to work on that a little but not a huge deal.
* My overall stature - With shoes there was just a slight bend forward at the waist. Without shoes almost no bend at all. My foot is striking under my hips which are in line with my shoulders which are in line with my ear lobe. Cool stuff.
* Arms/Elbows - Bent at about 90 degrees and holding them about the right height (no T-Rex arms). I do bring them a smidge too far forward which is causing a little wonkiness in my stride. I also cross them a bit and my elbows are out, away from my body a little. He said the latter stuff is not really crucial but improving them will improve efficiency over the long haul.

**Footstrike - Fore to midfoot strike and he said that part looked really good.  However, I am not kicking off or lifting my foot when is directly under my hips. Instead I'm leaving my foot on the ground a little longer which is causing me to propel myself upward and forward using mostly my toes. This is from me bringing my arm a little too far forward. Whodathunk?

This causes really tight calves AND it causes my hips to dip a few inches with each stride.

I need to lift my heel towards my glute instead of pushing off and keep my pelvis neutral.

In a nutshell - my gait is not too bad and not anything that would cause or exacerbate a hip injury so I can focus on stretching and strengthening to get my growing behind back on the road.

James did suggest that before each run I take a 20 +/- yard jog barefoot on the road, then put my shoes on and run; I have to say it was pretty fun to run barefoot. I felt a little like a kid again and I can see me doing more of it when the weather warms up.

He also heavily suggested I switch to Newtons which I'm completely open to. However, our city-government-salary-with-4-furlough-days-in-the-first-quarter is not open to it. So I'll have to wait to win the lottery or cross my fingers for birthday cash.

All in all it was a very productive morning! Next stop - physical therapy.


Jen said...

Super cool opportunity. Praying for birthday cash... maybe have a benefit where we all chip in $1 and you can get your Newtons!

The Green Girl said...

Wow, so glad you had the opportunity to get this done. My coach tells me I need to increase my foot turnover, too, I'll remember this for my next run.


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