Top 5 Fridays! 5 Things to Look for in Runners | Modern Manual Therapy Blog - Manual Therapy, Videos, Neurodynamics, Podcasts, Research Reviews

Top 5 Fridays! 5 Things to Look for in Runners

Running is one sport that arguable needs more symmetry than most. I tell my runners it's because you're doing the same thing over and over for 1000s of steps until you stop! Here are 5 Things I learned to look for in the past few years in runners.

1) Arm Swing
  • arm swing drives leg swing
  • females more than males tend to overswing their arms in front of them, crossing midline
  • this causes excessive trunk rotation in cases
  • I cue more swing back with arms tucked in around 90 degrees at the elbows, with only momentum taking the arms forward after the active shoulder extension
  • you may find that shoulder extension and trunk rotation on one side is more limited than the other, which normally is compensated for by excessive arm flexion on the contralateral side
  • this leads to...

2) The Cell Phone Swing
  • recent runner had cleared most SFMA tests and was progressing back to running
  • when I watched her run outside, her right arm consistently swinging much less than the left
  • I pointed this out and corrected her arm swing 
  • my current intern - Mark Lostracco - asked her if she runs with her cell phone in that arm and she replied, "Yes!"
  • She now runs with her phone in an arm band and is more cogniscent of running with more symmetrical arm swing
  • in the last race I ran in, I made sure to look for everyone holding a phone and I found it on dozens of runners, some barely swinging the cell arm at all while their other arm was swinging like crazy!
  • another recent runner had after 2 treatments ran 5 miles pain free in her hip 3-4 times
  • she recently came back, said she ran 5 miles with hip pain returned, I asked her if she ran with her cell phone
  • she replied, "Yes, I normally only do that for short 1-2 mile runs, but decided to do 5 that day"

3) Breathing
  • ok, I've been looking at this in everyone, but thanks to taking PRI's courses, I have a bit more background in it
  • one of the concepts I like to explain to patients is them being in a state of inhalation, which causes increased tone, and also causes shallow breaths
  • this in turn causes C02 levels to increase among other things
  • I explain to runners, if you are already breathing like you are out of breath and need more oxygen, and you're LYING RELAXED ON MY TABLE... we may want to work on your breathing
  • PRI explains it as a need to get the patient in a state of exhalation rather than inhalation, I like that!

4) The Hurdle Step
  • this is a great test to look for symmetry, while everyone wants to get a 3 on the rotational stability test, that's just for perfectionists and you should settle for symmetrical 2's on that
  • it is a must for all of my runners to be as symmetrical as possible on the hurdle step
See also Chris Johnson being a robot

kids already run like this! - My Sofia in our backyard!
5) A light forward lean/decreasing stride length

  • I've already gotten away from coaching mid foot strikes
  • even The Barefoot Professor himself recently was quoted on saying different foot strikes are needed for different speeds, needs, surfaces etc...
  • Having patients practice their cadence with a metronome app (or real one) set to 150-180 help
    • I'm not a fan of the 180 as a rule, it's great to stride for - literally, but not applicable in all populations at all speeds
    • decreasing overstride decreases ground reaction force, anything you can do to decrease this over 1000s of steps, obviously helps!
  • a slight forward lean also helps decrease overstride, think of it as your gas pedal
    • leaning forward more helps you increase speed
    • it's just using gravity to your advantage, when I'm really gassed, I just lean more and running is quite a bit easier
I wanted to avoid the typical, ITB, ankle mobility, thoracic mobility stuff, of course I look at those things, and really, I do an SFMA on all my runners and some FMS for clearing. 

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