What I Look Like While Running

Yesterday I had the chance to see what I look like while running. Not just in a picture but an actual video. I’ve always thought I would look totally awesome and gazelle-like (ha ha, yeah right!) but in reality, it wasn’t pretty. In fact, it looked painful.

No heel striking! - happyfitmama.comLet me back up…

As many of you know I’ve been dealing with an ongoing ankle/foot injury since early May. Since beginning physical therapy in July, I’ve gained strength in my weak hips which made the initial pain on the outside of my foot disappear. However, a new pain began in late August that was centered around my posterior tibialis (the inside ankle bone area). It only popped up when I started to fatigue and my form got sloppy (aka heel strike more). My PT has been a little perplexed by all of this so she was thrilled to offer me a video gait/biomechanics analysis to get to the root of my problems. The run nerd in me was beyond excited!

I did a three mile warm up outside before my appointment since I tend to feel the discomfort in the later miles of a run. (I had also done 7 miles that morning just for good measure). Once I got back to the clinic, a PT had me do one legged squats to check for muscle imbalances. In addition, he checked my flexibility. No problems with either. I then had reflective anatomical markers placed on my low back, ankles, back of the knees, hips etc. After that it was to the treadmill to run. I was to find a normal pace for me before videotaping would begin. Once there, I was taped for approximately 3 minutes from the side and back view.ย  The video was then uploaded and analyzed by not one but 4 PTs. This program is relatively new for the PT clinic that I go to so everyone was interested in the analysis.

So what do I look like while running? Here’s a run down of my issues:

  • Heel striking predominately on right (injured) foot. I would go back and forth between heal and midfoot on left.
  • Cadence – I was running at 150 steps/min.
  • Major hip shift with each stride.
  • Ground contact occurs too far out in front of my body which means landing on an almost straight leg causing a braking like motion (aka slowing me down), wasting energy and too jarring on the joints.

Ouch! Not pretty for sure. I knew I have been heel striking on my right foot as a way to “protect” the injury. Old habits are hard to break. Seeing my hip shift was definitely eye opening. Despite gaining strength in my core since July, it still was significant. I’d hate to think what it looked like before that!

Here’s what I’ll be working on:

  • Continue with strength building exercises for posterior tibilais, core and hips.
  • Learning to lean forward from my ankles without bending at the waist to use gravity for forward motion. This in turn will help promote midfoot strike.
  • Use metronome app on my phone to gradually increase my cadence to 170-180 steps/min. This will produce short, quick strides, midfoot strike and keep my legs under my body.

I did have positives out of it all – my leg swing and follow through were “beautiful!” ๐Ÿ˜‰

I knew going into this that my biomechanics were sloppy. I’ve got a lot of work to do but it’s all fixable. I’m very excited about it! Who wouldn’t be with the chance to be faster, more efficient and less likely to be injured?

Have you ever had a running video analysis?

What do you think you look like running?

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51 comments on “What I Look Like While Running

  1. Yes! I had a gait analysis also and had all of the same problems!! I think a lot stem from having babies which leads to the weak core and glutes oh and hips totally out of whack! I feel your pain my friend, literally as I suffer from post tib tendinitis as well! Kinesio tape has helped dramatically for my post tib issues!
    Sue recently posted..Denied!My Profile

  2. That sounds really cool. I wouldn’t mind doing something like that to improve my form. The metronome idea is flipping genius! When I finally get a smart phone I’m going to use because I really have issues with my pace. Having said that, I’ve seen still shots of me running, words can’t begin to describe how bad I look!
    Kristina Walters @ Kris On Fitness recently posted..A Good Run…My Profile

  3. I needed this laugh since Maddie woke me up at 4:45 “(I had also done 7 miles that morning just for good measure).” But of course you did LOL. I think this is so cool. I’d kind of like to have that done to see what’s causing my issues. I destroy the outer edges of my shoes b/c I am the absolute opposite of a pronator. I know I run way far forward (throw back to pointed toes ballet “run”) so much so that I have a lot of tightness in calves, which I highly suspect is leading to all my plantar fasciitis woes.
    Heather (Where’s the Beach) recently posted..Happy as I Want to BeMy Profile

  4. This is awesome and I would love to do it. I’m sure I’m guilty of the heel strike and not sure at all about my cadence and stride! The closest I’ve come to this is having a shoe test at my local running shoe store. They’re basically looking at what type of shoe support you need so it’s nothing like this. I’ll have to inquire with my PT. Thanks for this post and good luck with your “homework!”
    Allie recently posted..Living On the EdgeMy Profile

    1. I had the running store test and my PT watched me run but having it taped with the ability to slow it down and measure angles showed so much more. Very useful in pinpointing my strengths and weakness.

    2. The issue with in-store analysis is that it’s not in any way possible to detect without slow motion footage, what your feet are actually doing.

      Looking at shoe wear only tells you what you’re currently doing with your likely less than optimal running form.

      Looking at static, walking, or standing (barefoot or shot) feet show nothing about what they actually do while running.

      And watching someone run on a treadmill or across the sidewalk is simply too fast for the naked eye to determine what’s going on.

      That also begs the question, does how your foot moves really matter that much anyway? Should we (runners) be trying to control movement with shoes, or with proper running form and strength work?

  5. I studied exercise science at university and then worked in sport at a university so we did this a lot! I mostly got involved with testing where I just had to walk but it was soooo interesting the things you can learn!

    I find I revert to heel strike and heavy footed running when I get tired even though it is less efficient! So that is something I try to focus on when running!

    Elle ๐Ÿ™‚
    Elle recently posted..A Proper Fitness PlaygroundMy Profile

  6. I am definitely a heel striker the minute I get tired. I have never videoed it but I can tell by the sound of my footsteps when I run. In my case I am 6’1″ with long legs and have found out that if I increase my cadence with shorter strides I am able to maintain my form better and tire less. I need to find a place where I can video my running and definitely getting that app. thanks for sharing!
    Maria @ The Goof Life recently posted..“Paging Dr. Davis”… The Road to RecoveryMy Profile

      1. The change in running form due to fatigue is, I believe, your body’s response to the fatigue. It starts to utilize muscles in a different way, to spread the workload over more muscles.

        I think this change in running gait is a main reason that blisters most often appear when? During long runs ๐Ÿ˜‰ Your feet are “louder and clunkier”, you’re over striding more, spending more time on the ground, etc.

  7. My PT did watch how I walk but the process was much less involved than what you experienced. I am a heel striker, but she said that there isn’t any conclusive evidence that heel striking leads to injury so to focus on other things (hip strength, glute strength, etc.) and not worry about heel striking. Thus far, her advice has worked!
    Courtney recently posted..Five for Friday Fall EditionMy Profile

    1. My PT did the same thing but now that the clinic is offering the analysis, she thought it would be a great way to get more information. We definitely learned a lot more by slowing things down and measuring angles.

    2. I would be inclined to agree with your PT that there is nothing wrong with heel striking by itself. However a massively dorsiflexed heel strike with a relaxed posterior leg overstrided out in front of the body. THAT is going to lead to some issues.

  8. Very cool! My pt did this a few years ago when I was dealing with a knee issue and it was equally helpful and embarrassing. ๐Ÿ™‚ I learned that I didn’t hold my core muscles in very well- a slouching runner? I didn’t know it was possible. I’m really curious to know what my cadence is, I should count it out or use a metronome…
    Laura @ Mommy Run Fast recently posted..Sunshine funMy Profile

    1. I was clueless about my cadence too although I had heard you should be around 180 steps/min and I’ve heard metronomes beeping during races. We were playing around with it a little during my session yesterday. Seemed easy to do then but the real test will be on my own during a run. Trying it out tomorrow!

  9. That first picture? haha! Me too! So glad that you had a chance to do this. I had my gait analyzed kind of sort of and I had similar issues with landing too far in front and predominantly heel striking on my bad leg. Not surprising, I too have been having foot and ankle pain (posterior tibialis pain in the spring). Seriously, can we form a support group or something? I done with the injuries!
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..Friday Round-Up: Life PrioritiesMy Profile

  10. I had something similar done at PT, and I am actually just the opposite of you! In fact my PT and my coach both told me they had never seen someone who was as much of a toe runner as I am (I guess I’m special…). It’s so interesting to figure out what happens when we run, and they really do say that if we get our form right and stick to our strengthening, that it doesn’t have to be as hard on our bodies as everyone thinks!
    Ari @ Ari’s Menu recently posted..Pumpkin Pecan GranolaMy Profile

  11. I would LOVE to have that done! It seems so informative.

    I’ve had a family member (who ran competitively) check me out before and I went to a “Good Form Running Clinic” at my local running store that they have once a month. Both people thought I had decent form, but every single still picture that my wife takes of me during races looks like I’m heel striking. But neither of the people that watched me thought that I did…which is interesting. Maybe I should have her film me a couple of times and see what I look like, not that I know what I’ll be looking at! LOL

    I hope you get it sorted now that you have all this awesome info!
    Courtney @ Don’t Blink. Just Run. recently posted..Puttinโ€™ On My Big Girl Pants + A Race RecapMy Profile

  12. I have never had a gait analysis, video or live. I stopped running years ago because of plantar fasciitis. This is something I might think about because lately I have been doing run/walk but on the treadmill. However, I’m never running on cement because it was too stressful on my joints.
    The Frugal Exerciser recently posted..I Want A Dancer’s BodyMy Profile

  13. Very cool that you had that done!! I would love to do that sometime – I’m with Allie, I’ve done the running store video but it wasn’t a very big thing.
    Kim recently posted..RejuvenatedMy Profile

  14. When I got fitted for my shoes my running style was recorded. I’m lucky that I’m a mid striker. My left foot rolls in a little, but not that much.
    There is an app called ‘coaches eye’ that is a great tool to use to analyse your technique. I heard about it on runners academy. I don’t have it so I can’t comment on it.
    I do want to improve my running technique though, so I will properly get a few coaching tips next year.
    Matilda recently posted..September Running StatsMy Profile

  15. That’s awesome… that you got a review of our stride, not what you are doing. My guess is I’m doing some similar things… I know I heel strike as I get tired… basically, I think it’s safe to say most runners form falls apart when that happens. I’m glad you have key points that you can work on. I’ve toyed with the idea of getting a form coach.
    Pavement Runner recently posted..Race WeekMy Profile

  16. Hi Angela,
    Very glad that you are working on getting stronger (donโ€™t forget your glutes.. they are central in allowing a solid and powerful footstrike).
    It will very much help in keeping you more stable as you run.
    One thing I would say though is that based off of the photo at the top of this post.. your thick trainers (with most likely a significant heel to toe drop) make it much harder to midfoot strike and much easier to heel strike. That was the main reason that Nike created that type of shoe in the 70โ€™s.
    By their very design, regular trainers encourage you to heel strike.
    Slowly transitioning to less of a shoe would (if nothing else) make it easier to maintain a midfoot strike.
    I wrote a post about my transition to minimalist shoes (and barefooting) and talk about how I transitioned (which is much slower than most write about). http://www.mavrocatstrength.com/2013/05/09/i-still-love-a-great-pair-of-italian-shoes-aka-my-barefoot-journey-part-1/
    It may be of some value.
    Best of luck in working through this! I think you are definitely on the right track.
    Chris recently posted..Across the Years Training Week 11 RecapMy Profile

    1. Thanks for your input Chris! Glute strengthening is part of my program too. As far as my shoes, I have been slowly transitioning to a more minimalist shoe. I was previously in a very, very stability, thick sneaker. I’m not rushing it but eventually I hope to be in something with less of a heel drop.

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