As promised, here is what happened at my running assessment yesterday. My assessment took place at Six Physio on Harley Street. It’s my one stop shop whenever my body starts falling apart due to running; they have put me together again many-a-time. I have had a running assessment there before but that time with a different “coach” and the session wasn’t very impressive. However Emily, whom I saw this time, was amazing. Very detailed and knowledgeable.
The appointment took 1 hour and I needed to be wearing my exercise gear as running on the treadmill would be involved.
At first we sat down and talked a bit about my running history; how long have I been running, what my programme is, if I am training for anything, injuries etc. She already knew a bit about my history as she’d been filled in by the physiotherapists I had been seeing (oh oh!). After the chat she checked my posture (a dip in my lower back) and had me doing some balancing exercises. I had done a 15km run that morning so my legs were feeling a bit tired, which probably wasn’t very smart. Interestingly I could do everything except bounce on my right leg (the one with the tibialis syndrome) which hurt. I could bounce on both legs though without any pain though, oddly.
And then it was time for the treadmill – or I should call it the dreadmill as I hate running on it. Not just for the principle of running in place being stupid but as I always feel like I am about to lose my balance. She got me up to 10km/h speed and filmed me with her iPad from the back, side and front. I then had to get off, remove my runners and do the same thing again. I had expected it to hurt like hell, running without shoes, but it was actually not too bad. I have been very resistant to the idea of barefoot running but this was the first time where I thought, “hmmm…. Maybe there is something to having less padding and lighter shoes”. Whether it was me trying to make less noise on the treadmill or trying to protect my heels, I found myself running on forefoot without shoes – apparently I had just made the case for barefoot running!
And what did the film show – I am a story of two halves. I am like the Frankenstein of running form. My hips dip but one side is worse than the other. My right foot turns in when it strikes down and the right leg comes all the way in rather than keeping a straight line – the left side is much better. No wonder I feel a bit wobbly when I am running and keep tripping myself up! She said it had looked like I was heel striking when she observed me but the slowed down footage showed I was actually landing pretty well on the mid-foot. And there wasn’t much of a difference without my shoes to the running form so it seems my shoes aren’t making things worse at least.
Then it was time to go back and do some exercises that might help me – again focusing on the glutes which I find really hard to target. I need to get to the little (stabilising) muscles. Here are some of the exercises we did and she prescribed me (via a handy programme on their app):
Hip Hitch/dips on edge of step (20 x each side)
Place hands on your hips and stand with one leg on a step, the other leg unsupported below the edge of the step. Engage and squeeze your gluteal muscle on your standing leg as you pull the leg and pelvis back up to neutral. Lower to start position, repeat as required.
TRX Lunge (15 x each side)
Stand with the back foot through the TRX straps together. Hop into a lunge position. Perform a lunge movement ensuring the front knee doesn’t come over the toes. Keep pressure through the front foot to engage the glutes. Allow the back knee to bend. Hold of if you need to for balance.
Step-ups (10 x slowly on each leg)
Start with one foot on the step. Keep your pelvis level. Keep your knee in line with your 2nd/3rd toes. Push up through the leg to step up, maintaining your alignment. The control to lower back down.
And then came the revolutionary bit. My running cadence (how many steps I take per minute) is 168. Apparently this isn’t bad but could be a lot better. In fact the ideal is 180 bpm. She had me listen to the beat on a metronome on her iPad and it seemed rather fast to me. Running to a faster beat doesn’t mean running faster yourself, it just means you should take shorter steps, quicker. This will lessen the time you spend on putting pressure on the legs and will get your big muscles working harder. Here are a few songs that have that magical 180bpm. Personally it’s Metallica for me, thanks very much!
I then went back to the treadmill whilst she played the 180 bpm beat to me on the metronome and I tried running to it while she filmed me. It will take a while to retrain myself to try and keep that up! We then compared the film from before to the faster cadence and you can see that there are already slight improvements as my right leg simply doesn’t have enough time to start acting funny – a lightbulb moment!
The plan is that I keep doing the exercises and practice the new, faster turnover rate and go back in a few weeks.
All in all, a hugely useful session for me and I would definitely recommend it to anyone considering. And I am in no way being paid to say this (quite the opposite, a lot of my money goes to this place) but I can heartily recommend Six Physio to all you London based runners (and others in need of physio).