My previous post looked at my foot scan. Another thing that Mike Rowles at Occupational Kinetics did was test for muscle weakness/imbalances. He had me do two different exercises. First was a single leg swat. Performing this move can give you a good idea of any balance and hip weakness issues. Here are the videos of my test:
Proper form is when the hip, knee and foot are all in a perfect line during the swat. If the knee wobbles or collapses inward, this indicates a weakness. If you lack the control to keep this all in line during a static movement such as this squat, you will have even less control during dynamic movement – such as running.
Weak thighs (quads) and hips (abductors and external rotators) will lead to this lack of control during the squat. When your foot hits the ground while running, your outside hip muscles need to quickly contract to prevent your knee from going inward. Lack of strength or control of these hip muscles is a common contributing factor to knee pain…as I know all too well.
Seven weeks before Ironman Louisville 2011, I developed some pain in my left knee while out on a long run. After several more runs with the same pain, I decided to see what the problem was. After a quick visit to my friend Kevin at Rudy Ellis Sports Medicine Clinic, I was told that I had weak hips…which led to a very tight IT-band. I was unable to run anymore leading up to Ironman and have been on a “hip-strengthening” mission ever since.
I’m happy to say that after 18 months of incorporating hip and glute strengthening exercises into my weekly routine, I have strong hips…as the video above shows. I have also been running injury and pain free for the last 18 months!
The other test that I did was an overhead deep squat. This is a squat done with feet slightly wider than shoulder width. A bar is held overhead with both arms extended. Then you slowly squat down, going as low as you can go – lower than you would with a traditional squat.
This test assesses mobility in several areas. The hips, knees and ankles all flex during this movement. The range of motion of each is noted. All of these looked pretty good on my test. What wasn’t good was my upper body. I was unable to keep the bar directly above my feet. This indicates a lack of mobility in the thoracic spine. A tight back can lead to several running form issues, but torso rotation is the biggest one. Without the full range of thoracic rotation, the arms take it upon themselves to create more rotation than is needed in the running stride…especially in endurance events. Through some stretching and foam rolling, I should be able to increase my back mobility.
|My squat – bar should be over my feet.
|Proper overhead deep squat form.
My next few posts will get into my run gait analysis. Lots of good information about how I run…both good and bad!