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I spent some time with an intermittent client today who had previously been suffering from shin splints and knee pain whilst running. I ran a very quick bio-mechanical analysis with a slow motion camera and saw that the client was a heavy heel striker. As he was new(ish) to running I suggested a change to mid-foot or fore foot striking.

The client agreed and I coached him through the process but our paths didn’t cross again for some time.

He came into the gym today and we caught up quickly. He highlighted that the pain had gone away but had come back recently and that the pain had shifted back in one leg. The client had explained the leg that had been previously been the worse of the two was fine but the pain was back in his right leg. He also stated that he was struggling to get any faster despite feeling fitter. I offered to run a similar quick lab on his running with the camera to see what was going on.

The results were quite interesting and the change after an 30-40minutes of coaching and video feedback were even more dramatic. Please let me know what you think!

P.S. The client didn’t mind and actively encouraged the use of the videos on this site to educate the readership.

Deductions

Posterior Pre-Intervention

Lateral Pre-Intervention

The Posterior and Lateral videos clearly show that the client is landing mid/fore foot on his left leg whilst landing on his heel on his right foot. However, in the posterior video we can see that the foot has a slight roll outward and then inward which is perfect when transitioning from landing phase into drive phase.

The Lateral video shows that the fore foot strike on the left leg is spot on (Happy Days!!!) but the right leg supinates and lands on the heel. The supination is not really an issue however the mixed strike explains why the shin splints may be re-occurring in the right leg due to the increased impact (not happy days!!!)

Full Lateral Pre-Intervention

The Full Lateral view exhibits a few points of interest though. Firstly, again the mixed striking, a concern I had at the time of the first meeting was that if I couldn’t get the client to plantarflex it could be indicative of compartment syndrome. However, he did manage to as you’ll find out, so the concern dwindled.

Secondly, the range of motion of the upper legs is limited that could indicate a lack of gluteal activation. Also the timing of the hamstring activation suggested that they were being activated to return the leg to the landing phase as opposed to being utilised in the driving phase.

A more general point was the fact the spine was so upright. This suggested that the client was landing with his feet too far forward and would have had an increased landing impact and therefore braking effect. If you look at his hands they are also flared and he complained of tiredness in the arms.

Interventions

The first intervention took place in the form of video feedback regarding the deductions made above. Once the client could see what he was doing with his foot this alone provoked a major response with regards to quality of strides.

Posterior Post-Intervention

You can clearly see in the Posterior Post-Intervention video that the client adapted to feedback incredibly well and is now landing on the fore foot of each foot.

Full Lateral View Post-Intervention

The result I am most pleased with was the seeming activation of the gluteals and the overall change in efficiency of the run in the Full lateral Post-intervention video. The client was asked to do a series of exercises focussing on activating the glutes as well as being talked through the dynamics of really striding back using the hamstrings, calves and glutes to spring forward. As a result you can see the knee angle reaching and peaking just above 90 degrees. In the pre-intervention video they were barely making 110 degrees.

The client was also asked to lean slightly forward. This was aimed at making the landing phase occur under the client and improve his ability and range of motion behind him during the drive phase (therefore reducing breaking). He was also asked to pretend to be holding chopsticks. This is a derivative of a pose running strategy I was once taught that causes relaxation of the shoulders, upper and forearms.

Another consideration of the new position is that due to the new found power in the stride the client had to make less to go the same speed. However he still has the capacity to move his legs faster and can now, with training, attain higher speeds.

Overall we were both very happy with the results. I would be interested to get feedback and thoughts from other professionals and readers!

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