Disclaimer: I received a complimentary run analysis from Therapydia NOLA in exchange for this blog post. However, all views and opinions are my own.
I recently had the opportunity to visit Therapydia NOLA and work with their wonderful physical therapist and Clinic Director, Jonathan Burke, DPT for a full Run Analysis. I’ve always, always wanted to do this but never knew where to go or even, what, exactly it entailed. During a previous interview with Jonathan I was able to ask him, “What exactly IS a run analysis?”
“A run analysis is a screening specifically designed to apply to running mechanics. A physical therapist will put markers on you and you’ll run naturally while they observe and take a recording. Afterwards, they’ll use a video analysis coupled with a movement assessment to look at your angles and how you move through the 4 phases of running. We can identify any joint and soft tissue restrictions as well as strength and motor control deficits. The goal is to see how joints across your body move through their necessary ranges of motion and see what injuries you might be at risk for. It’s not just about how your feet hit the ground—your knee, pelvic, and trunk positioning all come into play to when considering your gait. It’s all about getting you to train correctly so your body processes force efficiently as you run. That way, you can prevent future injuries you’re at risk for and prevent joint and muscle overuse.”
The Run Analysis first started with a full exam to determine strength, flexibility, and body movement patterns. This was very similar to a physical therapy exam you may encounter on your first visit if you’ve suffered an injury. You lay down or sit on the exam table while the therapist puts you through a round of stretches and body movements (squats, side twists, leg raises, hamstring stretches, etc.). At this point, they are evaluating for any weaknesses or pain points you may be experiencing.
I knew my right side was weak due to a past knee injury. I favor that knee a lot and it manifests in a weaker quad. But I’ve been having some hip pain in my left hip flexor as well as tightness in my right back shoulder (from carrying a 30 lb child on my right hip all the time). Jonathan found those immediately and saw the limited range of motion in my trunk (due to the shoulder) and hip.
Next was the treadmill! He placed several blue dots on my right shoe, knee and hip. These were markers for the software to pick up and follow while I was running. He set up the iPad to record my stride as I ran and told me to start up the treadmill slowly and crank it up to a comfortable pace. He recorded my stride for a few minutes from the right side and then the rear.
I relaxed for several minutes after while Jonathan reviewed the software and wrote up my Run Analysis. You get a nice one-page report analyzing the various phases of a run stride: ankle dorsiflexion, hip flexion, trunk flexion, knee flexion, toe off and contact. Here’s what the analysis told me:
- I’m a heel striker – yeah, a big one. Ha.
- My trunk flexion is -2.79° to 4.12° through all phases when it should be at least 10°. This means that I’m standing up WAY too straight and upright when I run. I need to work on leaning forward more, which takes more stress off my knees and will help promote forefoot striking.
- My knee flexion is a little below ideal at 37.73°. Ideal is 40°. I’m a foot shuffler and need to work on picking up my heels more.
- Hip flexion fell a little short before contact, again indicating shuffling, heel striker.
For a data geek like me the analysis was SO COOL! So much to look at and take in. But Jonathan didn’t leave it at that. He showed me all the good things I was doing too and gave me recommendations to increase glute strength (they were found to be really weak during the initial analysis too) and work on activation exercises to improve stability and motor control. He walked me through a handful of exercises to do at home and printed them out for me to take and work on.
I really learned a lot with this run analysis. I’ve been more conscious about my form on recent runs and have been working on several of the things that Jonathan found: leaning forward, picking up my feet, shortening my stride. I’ve also been doing the exercises he gave me at home several times a week as well as adding plank sessions to build up my core strength.
I highly recommend setting up an appointment with the folks at Therapydia NOLA for a Run Analysis. It was such an interesting, LEARNING experience. I can only come out of this a better runner.
Therapydia NOLA is located at 2701 Airline Drive, Suite L in Metairie, Louisiana. You can call them at (504) 507-9375 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up an appointment.