A running assessment can be really useful for all runners ranging from the competitive pavement pounders to the recreational sport players. At Inspired physio we are lucky enough to have a wide variety of runners who come to our clinic, some who do regular marathons, some who run to improve their cardio for dancing or cheerleading and others who need running skills for team sports.
So if you made yourself a new year’s resolution to improve on your running time, technique or maybe even to run without pain, this is a step by step guide on what to expect from our running assessment:
1. Subjective assessment: This is when we can chat and find out a few things about why you run, what your goals are and what your current (if any) training volume is. Perhaps you get pain in a specific part of your body when running, or maybe the pain only happens after running for a few km’s? There are endless possibilities so this is the time to lay out your history and work out any key areas we may need to pay close attention to when we do the run assessment. We can discuss footwear here as well.
2. Treadmill and/or outdoor run with video assessment. At Inspired Physio we use an app called Hudl which allows us to film, record and breakdown your run. Even if you are not used to running on a treadmill we will always start here as it’s best to film in a controlled environment and one that’s easily reproducible. We can always take you outside and assess outdoor running afterwards. The run can be done at the pace you choose and we won’t give you any feedback just yet. This is more of a screening to see what you naturally do without any input from us. A key note for this section is that if you are a marathon or long distance runner, and only get pain after 10km etc (assuming pain is the issue for you) then its best to do a run right before you come in which takes you to the distance at which you think you may start to experience problems. That way our assessment can pick up the possible issue once you hit that distance in the clinic. So for example if your knee pain only happens around the 10km mark, its best to try and run at least 9-10km the morning of or just before your appointment.
3. Biomechanical breakdown based on what the video assessment highlighted: Hudl is a program which allows us to film your run, slow it down and break down each section of your run. These sections are categorised as initial contact, midstance and terminal stance. Within these sections we can break what is happening at both the left and right leg as well as your trunk, hips and even shoulders. The app allows us to draw lines and generate angels evaluating these measurements and this allows us to record and compare your runs at later stages. Some of the most common findings we may see relate to:
b) Excessive anterior pelvic tilt or scissor posture (‘duckbum’/’sticking bum out’ whatever term you want to use)
c) Too much knee flexion
d) Not enough true hip extension
e) Medial collapse from the hip and or knee causing the foot to excessively pronate (foot rolling in)
f) Strike pattern (landing on forefoot/midfoot/heel strike)
g) Restriction or excessive ankle dorsiflexion range of motion
This is not an extensive list and doesn’t cover everything but will give you a general idea of what we look for.
4. Objective assessment of the highlighted problem areas: Once we have determined the key areas which we think need improving from the treadmill assessment we can further break this down and assess the range of motion, flexibility and strength of key muscles and joints which may contribute. Lets use this an example: You are a recreational runner who has lower back pain with your runs after the 15 minute mark. We have assessed your treadmill run and highlighted that you are running with excessive anterior pelvic tilt and don’t have enough hip extension. We would then assess your hips to see if you need more flexibility and range of motion at the front of your hip and then test the strength of the hip extensor muscles. I could then assess your core and trunk stability and see if you could maintain a neutral pelvic position.
5. Home exercise program to target these problem areas: For the above example we just gave, if you tested weak in the glute max muscle and tight into the hip flexors then we could give your specific exercise to target these problem areas. If you tested weak in your core and weren’t able to maintain a neutral pelvis then we could target that with exercises too.
6. Running re-training with cues: The last section of the assessment is to try some running re-training cues which can have an immediate impact on the way you run. Lets use this as an example: You are a runner who gets pain at the front of your knee as soon as you start running. In the assessment we noticed you overstride significantly. Some cues we could give to you are to “take smaller and quicker steps”, “run underneath yourself”, “land underneath yourself” etc. Believe it or not, overstride is one of the most common running mistakes and usually can be corrected fairly quickly with those cues which aim to increase your cadence.
So if one of your 2020 new year’s resolutions was to improve your running or maybe even to just get started, then coming in for a running assessment will be a really valuable tool that you can use to help you reach that goal.