Running Form Analysis On A Triathlete With Back and Ankle Pain
by Eric Oliver, PT
CLIENT is a triathlete training for his first half-Ironman. He contacted Beyond Exercise with the goal of identifying faults in his joint mobility, strength, and movement with the hope of managing his intermittent (but chronic) low back pain while at the same time reducing his risk of injury during the rest of his training cycle. CLIENT has not previously had his running mechanics evaluated nor has he undergone a runner-specific movement and strength evaluation.
The physical exam found movement and strength deficits, and the run analysis revealed that he ran with a forward flexed posture, a long step length, heel strike, and adequate step cadence. He was given specific exercises to improve upon his weaknesses and to prepare his muscles and tendons for the changes in his running form. He was also given specific instructions on how to apply the run changes and drills so as to not cause injury to himself.
The follow-up visit was scheduled 1 1/2 weeks later to review his exercises and running form during which an improvement in his running form was noted. The form drills and one-on-one coaching significantly improved CLIENT's foot strike and posture without change to his cadence.
Reducing his step length and optimizing his posture will aide in reducing stress to the ankle and back. At the follow-up visit, CLIENT did not report any exacerbation of his symptoms. Running his normal pace felt easier, but due to muscles working differently he was not able to run his typical duration.
CLIENT will perform his drills, strength and mobility assignments, and carefully implement the new running changes into his existing training being careful to monitor his body's response. He will follow-up with the evaluating physical therapist on an as needed basis leading up to his half-Ironman. We will re-evaluate his body and movement after the race to create a comprehensive off-season training plan that will build from this foundation.