This is Jasmine. She is a superstar runner who is beginning her track season. Some of the issues she has dealt with include forefoot pain and calf stiffness. Her low back has also been sore at times. She is not limited with running, but these are frequent annoyances. Another quirk is that toward the end of a race or tough workout, her head tends to move a lot, sort of like a bobble-head. We don’t have any footage of that sadly, but you can catch a glimpse of it when close up! Here is video of her at the beginning of a run.
From behind, the most obvious parts are the increased loading time in the hips both sides and slowness to push-off through the feet. From the sideview, she has a forward trunk lean. What these indicate is weakness in her hips and core, especially in the context of loading in the sagittal plane (forward/backward). Essentially, every time her foot hits the ground, her hip and lower core region should be able to quickly absorb the force of the ground traveling up and transfer that to an efficient push-off. Instead, it takes extra effort to absorb that load, so she’s forced to lean forward and leverage her head and neck to pick up the slack. Ideally, her head and upper body should be fairly quiet and relaxed because the work is mostly picked up by the lower half.
So, what to do about it. We have already been working on the flexibility of her hips and calves, mostly working on posterior and anterior hip flexibility, which videos of others doing these can be found in previous posts of similar runners, as well as calf stretches with twists thrown in. Again, these can be shown in recent posts. So these videos focus on the running form aspect.
First, another assessment video. The instruction given was simply to stay on her toes. This can be a great way to discern how strong the forefeet are. Often, if the form worsens when running on the toes, that’s a dead giveaway that lack of foot strength is part of the equation. Indeed that’s what we see with Jasmine.
Here is a simple drill to emphasize quickness with the loading phase and power during push-off phase. I’ve heard these most commonly referred to as ‘power skips.’
Next, to develop proper core control in the sagittal plane, she ran with the most convenient object with a little weight to it, a purse!
What this accomplishes is that it forces her to stay more upright and stable through her upper body. This can be done with any object that weighs a few pounds, a backpack, a rock, or a small weight. From the side, her upper body certainly stays more upright, which is a great sign! From behind, her head and shoulders stay more stable, also a great sign!
After these drills, here is what her form looked like.
From the side, she certainly looks more upright. From behind, her feet and hips look quicker and more efficient. So these are good indicators that the drills will be helpful for developing better patterns for stability and efficiency and should translate to better performance. Great work Jasmine!