This week’s spotlight is on Katelyn. She presented without pain or limiting factors, but reported that her running form tended to break down when fatigue set in or at the end of a 5k race. Let’s see what she looks like initially.
The biggest thing that jumps out is the extraneous movement in the hips with rotating and upper body with side to side movements. A significant forward trunk lean is also present. With running, a total body forward lean is ideal. It’s been said to lean at the ankles, which is a good way to approach it. She tends to lean forward at the waist, which is not ideal because it makes it more difficult to have proper knee drive or foot placement, notice the slight overstride also. With each stride, the shock of the ground reaction should be quickly absorbed and rebounded in the hips and lower core. Anytime extra upper body movement is observed, it’s a good bet that the core is not functioning properly.
So, we used a few approaches to fire up her core, especially in a way that mimics what the core needs to do during running. We used an 8# ball to create extra load pulling forward, this forces her to be keep her upper body more upright. This brings the glutes into the equation more and forces them to fire more quickly to keep her from falling forward.
And another version, just more dynamic, again to simulate the loading and pushing off of the normal running cycle.
And again the jumping lunges, but the ball overhead creates more vertical load as well as increased work for the hip flexors of the trailing leg, which should translate to a more efficient knee drive.
Here’s another exercise to fire up the lower abs, which will also help with knee drive. She had better reps than the video shows, but you get the idea. This exercise can be done effectively keeping the knees straight or bent.
After these exercises, here is what her form looked like.
Notice improved posture from the side view with decreased forward trunk lean and improved knee drive. The overstriding is decreased also. From the back, her upper body looks more efficient. The focus on our session was on strengthening. Just to be clear, it is not possible to make true muscle strength gains within a session like this, but what is possible is the proprioceptive gains by practicing the movements. Essentially, practicing the proper movements will dial in the neuromuscular system in a way that will translate to better muscular performance, and this can happen within a matter of minutes. The key to making it a lasting change is repetition in order to set a new default mode for the specific activity.
So, with constant practice of these exercises, this should translate into better strength and more efficiency, which will allow her to maintain her form throughout races and hard workouts. Great job Katelyn!