Now that every Chiropractor, Physical Therapist, Massage Therapist, and Personal Trainer claim to be a running gait, and biomechanical expert, I felt the need to share a letter and my thoughts with you.
"Hey Dr. Greenapple, I came and saw you awhile back, I ran for xxxx at xxxx High School, and I am pretty sure I had seen you about hip flexor issues. I had a stress fracture on my right big toe my junior year ( I am now a freshman in college), and I think ever since then it has sort of thrown off my junning form and has given me and on and off hip issues. You had said I'm sure it was a strength and flexibility problem, and gave me some exercises to do. Since then, I've sort of just dealt with it, my whole senior year XC season I was pretty much pain free until track season when I started haveing issues again. I went and saw xxxxx, and he told me it wasn't as much strength issues but my form because I was sinking back and running on my heals. Anyway, I took off and really haven't been running too much at all lately, but I've noticed since late summer I've been getting the same ailments again off and on.... I find I have good weeks where I'm pain free and able to work out comfortably but then all of a sudden I'll just regress back into having pain and most of the time it alternates sides so sometimes my left hip hurts, sometimes my right hip hurts, and I even had lower back issues at one point..... The most pain comes whenever I try to accelerate, I find that I can hardley sprint most days if I ever have to, plus apparently I walk with a limp now....Anyway, sorry for such a long stream of consciousness, but I really want to jsut get rid of this problem once and for all, and was hoping maybe you could give me some advice.... Do you think it is a strength issue? I just don't understand how I've been able to run so many miles and do so much other exercising, yet still they aren't strong enough. Also I've been stretching a lot and have good flexibility......."
This is classic!!! Everyone out there is telling runners how to run. There are books with hundreds of pages and certifications you can get (online courses), weekend seminars etc, that tell you to lean forward. I guess that now makes you an expert? Let me give you my opinion (call me if you want to know my so called expertise on running biomechanics). First of all, I do believe there are inherently important aspects to running, form, and biomechanics. However, you must be strong enough, balanced enough, flexible enough, and most important stable enough to try and get into a more effecient style of running. You should not try and change to someones so called " correct form". One must look at the entire equation. The function of the athlete and their ability to perform certain movement patterns is the key to changing your form. This "kid" was the perfect example. He was told he was sitting back and running on his heals. This is a strength issue! His gluteus medius was not firing properly to hold him up. He was told to lean forward at the ankles and stand up. Now he was in the "correct" running posture. The problem is, he is still totally dysfunctional! Now he running correctly, and everything is hurting and falling apart. His question as to how he can be weak with all the activity he is doing is also classic. The answer is simple, specificity. It's not about how many sets, and how many miles. It's about figuring out what exactly is wrong and correcting those issues. Be careful when trying to change your gait, and form. Everyone has their own uniqueness, body types, and style. There are many aspects to form and function be it running, swimming, or on the bike. Look at the entire equation, not just what someone told you is the "correct way". Now that there are so many books and experts out there changing athletes forms, my office is booming.