This week’s spotlight is on Elizabeth. She is in training for her first half marathon and began experiencing left lateral knee pain following a 10 mile training run. She has been very active with team sports and plyometric workouts in the past, but running 10+ miles is uncharted water for her. Here is video of her running initially.
The thing that jumps out the most is the apprehension to load the left leg. The load-to-push-off transition should look very smooth, but her’s is certainly a little jerky (there’s probably a more technical term out there but we’ll roll with this one!). This type of pattern can come from the foot, calf, knee, hamstrings, or hip. Upon closer exam, she was very tight in the lateral hip and IT band.
These areas are especially critical during the loading phase of gait as the lateral hip should be where the majority of the shock of impact is absorbed. If this doesn’t happen gracefully than the IT band can easily tighten up and cause increased friction at the knee.
The other thing that jumps out is how much her arms and upper body rotate, a little more than ideal. The arms often tattle on how well the hips and core are dealing with the forces entering and leaving the body. See the last blog post for a little more on this and what to do about it!
But here’s what we did to get Elizabeth going again. First the good old foam roller to her IT band.
Next a two-stage stretch for the lateral hip.
After the foam roller and stretch, her hip flexibility already showed improvements, so here’s footage before we monkeyed with form drills.
As you can see, her left leg looks much smoother, but we’ve still got the extra rotation of the upper body and arms. So here’s what we did to address the form. First, power skips.
Lastly, she ran with her arms out to the sides. This increases the rotational lever arm and forces her lower core to be more stable while running.
As she did the last drill, she commented on how hard it was to keep her arms from swinging around. Again, what this does is teaches the lower core and hips to be able to more quickly and efficiently load and rebound to push off, rather than pass the buck to the upper body.
After all this, here’s the new and improved form.
Again, her landing and push off look much more efficient. Her upper body has less rotation to it, even though she looks a little over cautious in the last video. Ideally the arm swing is relaxed and relatively forward/backward. Her’s is certainly a step in the right direction. With consistent attention to her flexibility and improved form, this will keep stress off her knee and improve her efficiency. Great job Elizabeth!