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  • Writer's picturecreativerehabpt

My Running Assessment Experience as a PT

Let me start by saying I would not classify myself as a runner. I swam competitively through high school then got into triathlons while studying for my physical therapy board exam (which option was worse?!). Since that time I have been a physical therapist for 11 years and competed in 25 triathlons and a hand full of running races. My triathlon distances mostly range from International distances (finishing with a 6.2 mile run) to Half Ironman (finishing with a 13.1 mile run). After having my 2nd child in 2020 it took me a while to get back into running. I started back into triathlons in 2022 but I had recurring issues with pain and tightness in my calves. Eventually, the season ended and all was fine. Starting in 2023, I decided to do a half marathon to force myself to be "a runner". Everything was going fine until I transitioned from my treadmill to outside. As soon as I started to run outside I had calf pain that locked everything up. I finished the half marathon shuffling along with calf tightness but I was too stubborn to stop. I know I know, "do as I say not as I do". My calf tightness improved for a few weeks but then my other calf started to hurt one week before my first triathlon of the season. This time I completed the race with no calf issues and was only limited by deconditioning. After that I knew I needed to figure out what was happening with my running; otherwise I wouldn't be able to get faster and may not be able to finish the season.

Although I am a physical therapist and should be able to fix myself, sometimes you need a different perspective. Enter Bridget. My co-worker Bridget loves working with runners and doing running assessments. I tasked her with the challenge to figure out why I was hurting myself. She set up her tripod and recorded me running on the treadmill from each side and from behind in slow motion. Bridget then reviewed the video with me and analyzed every angle and placement of my lower body. While running, I felt like one of those young girls who run and it looks effortless. Keep in mind it was only for 8 minutes. However, when watching the video it seems that my running form has morphed into a combination of Phoebe running from Friends and a prancing pony. Needless to say - it wasn't working. Bridget and I discussed a few exercises to help change my form and increase my strength including working my hamstrings and adjusting my foot placement from forefoot to more midfoot. She suggested gradually incorporating the new foot placement while running like any good therapist would, however I'm a bad patient. I immediately started working on drills to train myself where to land and worked on my hamstring/glute strength. Within a few days, I was out running 4 miles with a new form. Again, "do as I say, not as I do". As I have continued to work on dialing in this new form I am surprised and thrilled to note my calves do not hurt! An added benefit from making my running form more efficient is that I increased my speed so I am 1 minute per mile faster. Disclaimer: Results may vary

I'm a few weeks out from my initial running assessment and am so glad that I stopped to fix my nagging issues with running. I have more work to do but I'm on the right track!

10/10 would recommend!

How do you run?

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