What could be more simple than running? We know how to do it instinctively by the time we are two years old. Hundreds of people go for runs every single day without knowing the first thing about their running gait. However, there are a few reasons why you might want to consider having a professional video gait analysis. I will do my best to keep it simple but please feel free to ask clarifying questions!
If you want to start running more to train for a long distance. Every time a runner’s foot hits the ground, an impact is generated. This is called a “ground reaction force” and this force can be up to 3 times the runners body weight. This means for a 150 pound person, 450 pounds of force are hitting their legs. Add to that the fact that the average runner takes approximately 170 steps per minute. Over the course of a 30 minute run, that’s 5,100 steps. You can see how if that hypothetical runner had a small biomechanical error, it could really be magnified by the number of times they are replicating that error under large amounts of force. If you are contemplating training for a half marathon or full marathon, it would be wise to address any small errors before they become a big pain.
If you can’t quite seem to shake a familiar, nagging, ache. I am going to go after a low-hanging fruit with this one. Raise your hand if you are a runner who has ever said the words “I have a tight IT band”. In another post (or in the clinic!) we can go over why an IT band can’t actually be tight, but it is a very real feeling that is almost always secondary to a biomechanical issue that can be fixed. If you have a particular body part that always “feels tight”, a video gait analysis can shine light on why that is.
If you got an overuse injury and want to prevent it from happening again. There are common gait patterns that make an individual more likely to sustain a certain type of injury. I have been trained in how to recognize those patterns on video and could help identify them for you. We can work together on corrective exercises that can prevent you from becoming injured again as you build your mileage back up.
If you’d like to get a little faster. In science, the definition of efficiency is: the ratio of work performed to energy taken in. Running is work that uses our body’s energy. Running can be done efficiently or inefficiently. You may already be aware of some things that make a runner less efficient. Things like rotating their arms too much across their body while running. Or wearing really baggy, heavy clothes that create lots of drag. There are also some gait patterns that are inefficient and might be slowing you down.
If any of these pique your interest, feel free to reach out with questions or schedule a video gait analysis today!
Winter is my second favorite time of year to run. Being from Minnesota, that statement carries more weight than it does in other parts of the country because in Minnesota we have seasons that are distinctly different from each other – they’re called “Winter” and “Road Construction”. (I’m sorry, I couldn’t help myself…) In reality, we have four seasons that are distinctly different from each other and fall is my number one favorite due to the beautiful colors and moderate temperatures. Winter is also beautiful when the snow is fresh and white, the skies are icy blue and my runs are not suffer-fests due to high heat and humidity. Of course, winter brings its own health and safety challenges and I would like to share a few tips for running safely during this time of year.
Wear appropriate layers for the temperature I more or less have a winter running uniform. I have Thorlo wool running socks that keep my feet warm in every temperature – I have never had cold toes on a winter run. They also have held up amazingly well. I would be embarrassed to share how old they are so it’s I good thing I can’t remember how long I have had them… If it’s below 32 degrees I wear thicker, cotton leggings. These stand up well to the low temps wind. The lighter weight synthetic fabrics don’t do much for warmth on those days. Lastly I layer a warm base layer under a jacket. The Runner’s World website’s “What to Wear” tool can be super helpful for helping you fine-tune your own uniform.
Cover up your fingers, ears, and nose! No matter how much you enjoy running in the cold or how acclimated you become, skin can freeze. Every human’s body diverts blood flow away from your extremities to keep your vital organs warm. This is why our fingers and toes are the first things to feel too cold when we are outside in the winter. Running can cause this diversion to happen even faster, because now our leg muscles are also demanding a lot of that blood flow. If you get too hot and sweaty while running, you can always stick your gloves or hat in a pocket but it is never a good idea to leave home without them in the winter!
Pay attention to the surface On any given winter run you might encounter a neatly shoveled sidewalk, a slushy intersection, slippery hard packed snow, a frozen crushed gravel trail… I could go on. I ran on all four of those things just this morning on one 4.5 mile run. I’m a believer that winter weather does not require treadmilling every day but it does require planning. Running through snow is going to feel more difficult that running on solid ground and it might slow you down. The stabilizing muscles in your feet, calves and hips are going to have to work harder. If your leg muscles feel more sore the day after a snowy run, give them a little extra love with your foam roller.
Please feel free to reach out if you have questions I didn’t address. I would also love to hear any of your own tips and tricks for managing winter running!
My greatest wish for Superior Running Medicine is to help my clients run happily and pain-free for as long as they want to. (Both in terms of miles on a given day and for years of their life!) There are lots of services I can provide to make that happen. But I am going to start with the single most important one I can think of: “Glute School”.
Our “glutes” or our gluteal muscles have important jobs. And even though according to a Washington Post survey, Americans spend an average of 6.5 hours a day sitting on their glutes, that is quite possibly their least important job.
Most folks are familiar with the big guy, the Gluteus Maximus. The gluteal group also includes the Gluteus Medius and Gluteus Minimus. Our big glute muscles and our big brains are two of the most important things that set us apart from the cute animals pictured at the top of this post. The gluteal group helps us to walk upright on two legs and they are also stabilizers when we run.
When I first began working with collegiate female cross country runners, I took an injury prevention program that was designed for preventing ACL injuries and I adapted it to prevent issues like “Runner’s Knee” (Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome”) and IT Band Syndrome. Almost immediately after introducing the program, the athletes affectionately named it “Glute School”.
The primary goals of Glute School are to (1) reduce knee and lower leg injuries by (2) strengthening the muscles that extend, abduct and externally rotate the hip, and (3) making sure the body can do this on one leg when we are running!
Just like with every type of exercise program, it is important to start Glute School with the basic movements and then gradually progress in difficulty. The video library I will share here is of the Level 1 exercises that can safely be done on your own as activation prior to a run. Please see the YouTube link below! The Level 2 and 3 exercises will be available to clients of Superior Running Medicine as part of an exercise prescription or injury prevention package.
What makes a real runner? Or maybe I should ask, what does it take to make someone feel like a real runner, or to believe that they are a real runner. On the front page of this site, I advertise that I want to provide my services to all runners and I think it is important that I emphasize ALL. If running is your job, obviously you are a runner. If running is your hobby, you are a runner!
It’s not a certain number of miles per week. Or being able to race a certain distance. If you get out there and run 3 miles, 3 times a week, you are a runner. Maybe you can only run one mile right now but you have hopes of one day going farther. You are a runner! This point was actually driven home for me during the time I spent working with Division 1 college athletes. The young women I worked with on a daily basis could race 6 kilometers at an average pace that was under 6 minutes per mile, yet they were impressed by the fact that I could run a marathon at an average pace of 9:30/mile. Trust me when I say that someone is very impressed by the fact that you can run one mile at all.
It is definitely not being able to run a certain pace. Sure, pace matters quite a bit in the realm of professional running, but running is just like every other activity that can be both a hobby and a job. There are varying degrees of natural talent and varying degrees of interest. I was absolutely not born to run fast, but for some crazy reason I liked running and I have stuck with it for more than 20 years. Consistency has caused me to improve a little. During that time I have met other runners who are naturally so much faster than me but hate putting in the work to get any better. They could show up on any given day and kick my butt. Are we both runners? As much as those folks might annoy me, yes we are!
So then, what makes a real runner?
If you run, you are a runner.
If you want to run farther or faster, I can help you. If you want to maintain your current pace and mileage but reduce your risk of becoming injured, I can help you. If your running is presently stalled because you have sustained a running injury, I can most definitely help you and I can help to make sure that injury doesn’t come back again in the future!