Nine Tips to Improve your Run

Before we begin, take a look at the image below. You will see four columns paired with a left and right foot strike of 28 different runners from the 2012 US Olympic Trials 10k race. What do you notice about all of the runners?

  1. Stride length – Over striding is when foot hits the ground in front of the knee. Optimal foot strike should be sightly in front of body or center of gravity, or under the knee and hip. This will decrease impact forces, therefore decreasing the injury rate.
    • Quick Fix: Increase your cadence – ideal is 85-90 rpm PER LEG.
    • Note: An “overstrider” will ALWAYS be a heel striker, but a heel striker will not always be an over strider.
  2. Arm swing – Find happy medium of swing – not too much (as if you are sprinting), or too little (not enough force being generated). Keep elbows bent to 90-120 degrees, swing from shoulders.
    • Do not cross the body midline – This creates rotation through the midline, and another part of the body will have to counter for compensation to keep you moving in a straight line. This increases likeliness of injury.
  3. Head should not move vertically more than 2” – This increases impact forces, and wastes energy. We find this more commonly with mid and forefoot runners.
    • Quick Fix: Pretend there is a ceiling 2” above head, but be sure to not hunch forward at the neck, upper back or shoulders in doing this. Amongst increased stress to the body, this compresses the rib cage creating less room to breathe, and decreases lung capacity.
  4. Stride position or direction – Avoid “crossing over” – The feet should be landing in line with the hip, and not crossed over directly in-line with the body (like running on a line, or crossing to the other side of a line).
    • Quick Fix: Pretend there is a dowel between your legs that you cannot hit.
    • Good way to know if you are “cross-over” striding – Running on a muddy trail and you have several marks on your calves.
    • #1 issue causing this – weak lateral hip stabilizers: TFL, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus. Most often sprinting will help to develop this musculature due to high intensity hip extensions, which activate the gluteal musculature.
  5. Listen to your feet hitting the ground – Could the person standing on the corner across the street hear you coming from behind? Is one foot making more noise than the other? You should focus on a soft landing, and equal sounds from both feet. Increasing your cadence may help this, although try not to increase over 90-120 rpm/foot.
  6. Full body posture: Predominate bend should be from the ankles, and a slight forward lean will help accentuate this, as well as increase awareness to engage the core.
  7. Shoe types – This subject can easily be taken down the rabbit hole in discussion, let’s keep it simple:
    • Minimalist running shoes – Typically promotes mid/forefoot running, and poor for heel strikers due to the high impact. Most people do not have the proper foot, ankle and calf musculature to quickly transition into minimalist shoes.
    • Athletes with chronic knee pain or runners who are constantly injuring different areas may be indicated to try minimalist shoes to help alter their gait pattern.
    • All others: Most people are best suited with a moderate stability shoe. Sometimes choosing the shoes that feels the best is the correct option instead of trying to get too technical in finding the “perfect fit”.
  8. How long should you keep your shoes? Set them side by side and if there is visible deformity then it’s time for a new pair. Look for the shoes caving inwards or outwards, height difference, etc. This means that if the shoe is not sitting correctly unweighted, then when you are running in them the deformity will be exaggerated, and you will be running in that incorrect position.
  9. Orthotics? Orthotics are great to help correct foot asymmetries, especially with increased pronation or supination (typically associated with collapsed or too high arches). A soft orthotic is usually preferred over hard plastic types. This allows your foot to still move through the full range of motion that your shoe allows, only doing so in a corrected position.

Ok, back to the picture from above. What did you notice? Keep in mind, that these are some of the best distance runners in the US. If you’re thinking, “This person has collapsed arches, that person shouldn’t be toe striking, or that person is over supinating” then you should take a step back and say, “The biggest observation about this photo is that there is no consistency with the way these runners strike the ground”. We need to understand that there is a huge array of heel, mid and forefoot strikers, and some who are in between. All of them, however, have the potential to be successful.

What does this tell us? We should not always over analyze how foot hits ground (i.e. heel/mid/forefoot strike), and more on where it hits the ground: Eliminate over-striding, do not cross-over, do not bounce too much, is there symmetry, etc.

That being said, do you have questions about your own walking, running or sprinting pattern? Not sure if orthotics are right for you? Give us a call for an evaluation and analysis of your gait patterns, and a scan for the appropriateness of orthotics!

A Crossfit + Chiropractic Success Story

The following is an account of experience from one of Dr. Nordin’s patients who was so transformed by her care at Positive Motion that she wanted to share her story.

Hi, I’m Stef, a 37 year-old female, who has been on the lengthiest hunt for the healing I needed desperately. Over the last 20 years, I have seen 17 chiropractors (yes, 17) who claimed to heal me from the car accident I had as a high school senior. My straight neck had no curvature, my low back constantly was in achy discomfort and somewhere during the insanely long journey, I came across a phenomenal doctor in my hometown who treated me for 3 months and actually healed me. How awesome and great, right- Hallelujah!

To stay strong mentally and physically, Crossfit was introduced to me and I fell in love immediately. The goals, the determination, the strength-building helped my body keep moving and not to revert back to body pain. At this point, I was a new wife, had a booming side gig as a wedding coordinator, was team captain for our dragonboat racing team, the Delta Dragons, and we were actively trying for a baby. Clearly, slowing down and being complacent was not an option.

One day, I was doing a normal handstand pushup and my trap instantly got angered. And that became my enemy-injury for a year, limiting me to an array of certain movements and sometimes, having to forgo performing them entirely. In addition, a new chiropractor tried treating it, which resulted in a bad adjustment and worsened the pain, making my sleep almost next to none then. I couldn’t get out of bed without lifting my own neck off the pillow. Unable to sleep anywhere without a Tempurpedic pillow (at hotels, I stack bath towels to form a firm pillow), unable to partake in long car rides or flights (had to bring IcyHot patches, rubbing cream) and constantly never getting a good night’s sleep due sharp aches, became my new world. This led to another disappointment in my faith of chiropractors- disappointment #17, to be exact.

At this point, I began accepting that this agony would just be part of my future. Scenarios in my mind seemed to be a likely reality: perhaps traveling shorter distances for all vacations; using a headset for my phone from hereon since I couldn’t bend my neck to one side; hiring a nanny for my future children in case I can’t carry them for long periods; not being to walk for an entire day at Disneyland with my children due to neck/back pain. Also, how could I try for a baby if I wasn’t able to get adequate rest?! Things didn’t look so promising so the excitement to be a mother someday started to dim.

By now, we had moved to Campbell and I was part of a new Crossfit box, Crossfit San Jose, new community with new friends. Turning to my Crossfit coach for a chiropractic referral, he sent me to Vanessa Nordin, at Positive Motion and it was natural for me to be extra skeptical. Immediately, I unloaded my story and expectations with her, stating my pain level, my jaded faith in chiropractors and questioned the likelihood of remotely improving. Although it was only a phone conversation, I appreciated her honesty in how she planned to treat within a certain time frame and how realistically attainable it was. Never had a chiropractor been so transparent and logical with me. It’s always been “Of course I can heal you. I’ve been in this business healing athletes like you for years. I know what I’m doing.” Vanessa didn’t boast of any promises like this- she just eagerly wanted to get to work. So I decided to give her a try.

Fast forward two months and 13 visits later–with no magic wand and solely due to commitment and trust, I am a brand new person! Not only has Vanessa treated me towards an upward progress but I’ve experienced major breakthroughs in countless areas. Here’s a few to list: I can change lanes turning my head while driving without my whole body have to shift; I can lift weight overhead and do movements at Crossfit, when terror used to paralyze me from my trap flare-up every time; I was able to do dragonboat racing with sheer intensity, grabbing GOLD medals with my team placing 1st amongst 43 crews…and above all- I’ve been able to sleep!! My body has been the happiest it’s ever been in 20 years, being in a healthy joyful state that I’m excited to actively start planning for a baby again with newfound confidence. To top it off, I just signed up for my very first Crossfit co-ed competition!

 

One of my favorite and impactful aspects of this journey with Vanessa was the fear she helped me squash. Every time I was apprehensive in lifting or pushing forward at Crossfit, she instilled confidence in me and pretty much flashed the green light to proceed. Best doctor’s orders because her positive words were in my head when I decided to go for it. Instantly, the terror that hindered me for so long would vanish. Without the proof of my progress and her supportive words, I know I would’ve stayed behind in my performance and daily activities. But Vanessa empowered me as her patient and encouraged me as a friend. No other doctor has successfully, and genuinely, done that. Ever.

I’m a walking example of how finding the right doctor with exceptional knowledge and a stellar heart can gel back a damaged (mentally and physically) product. Vanessa has restored my faith back into chiropractic care, my body into a stronger capacity and she promised me the journey won’t stop here. Good, because I don’t want us to break up! It’s beyond me to not only be able to rave to everyone about how extraordinary of a doctor she is, but I’m so honored to call her my friend as well.

Vanessa, thank you indefinitely for all you’ve done thus far and will continue to do. You’ve provided the courage to live the best life God wants me to have and be the “goal digger” that I am! Double Hallelujah!!

Orthotics: An Answer to Your Chronic Pain?

This blog post was originally published by Positive Motion Chiropractic in 2018 by our associate chiropractor Vanessa Nordin, DC, CCSP

Hearing the suggestion of orthotics is usually met with curiosity or skepticism from most patients. At Positive Motion, we suggest orthotics after a full gait evaluation and FootLevelers laser scan of the foot (check out some of the information gathered in a Read more

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