If you’re a runner, then you’re either injured or between injuries.
At least that’s the way it seems sometimes. For me it was Achilles Tendinitis. I would be able to run for roughly 3 months and then, for no apparent reason, my ankle would start to feel tight and painful during a run. I did the old ‘ignore it and it’ll go away’ bit, but it didn’t. I also tried the ‘give it a couple of days before I try again’, also without success.
Typically, the day after I experienced the pain, it was obvious that I wasn’t doing any more running for a while. I would be limping at best and any attempt to run was rewarded with immediate excruciating pain. In practice this meant that I did a lot of cycling which didn’t irritate my Achilles and at least meant that I could exercise somewhat.
When I joined Red Rose, I had convinced myself that a more structured training regime was the answer. Start slowly and build it up even slower. I got to the 1st of July 2013 after doing Preston parkrun in 22:30, my pb at the time, when I felt that familiar nagging pain. I did nothing the next week and again went to Preston parkrun, convincing myself it would be fine this time. I knew half way through that it wouldn’t but I finished anyway.
It was 4 months before I was able to run again but the cycle started again just 6 weeks later when I was hobbling again, feeling very down and convinced that I was finished with running.
In the previous couple of years I had seen several physio’s, spent hours doing ankle raises and got some orthotic insoles and new trainers, all to no avail.
In a last bid to try to find an answer, I went to see my doctor, more in desperation than anything else. He didn’t help me but he did mention gait analysis and that got me thinking that maybe I hadn’t tried everything. I checked several gait analysis possibilities including UCLAN and sweatshop but eventually I chanced on the gait analysis service at Salford University. It wasn’t cheap but it was less than a couple of pairs of running shoes so I decided to go for it. My first session was early in 2014. I was able to run again by this time but I wasn’t confident at all about it.
The session involved a series of strength tests which showed that I didn’t have any particular weakness although my core strength could have been better.
The key part though was the 3D biometric assessment. They stick a load of reflective balls to key points on your body and then get you on the treadmill surrounded by 16 special cameras mounted around the ceiling. A week later I was back for the results and recommendations. There were a lot of exercises to complete, but the main thing which I think made the most difference was the running style advice.
I was told that I was overstriding and as a result I was heel striking quite badly.
Over the next couple of months I did the exercises religiously and I made a conscious effort to shorten my stride and avoid heel striking on my runs. I was told to build it up slowly and I really had no choice because it was painful to run with a midsole foot strike for any length of time but eventually I built it up and then went back to Salford for the follow up exam.
I felt a lot more comfortable running on the treadmill and the 3D results looked much better as well. I was very hopeful but only time would tell.
That was all done by Easter 2014 and since then, I have had almost 2 years with only a slight hiatus for a couple of weeks when I stupidly ran in new trainers without my orthotics. I’ve got to conclude that my heel striking was the cause of the issues in the main. Since then, I’ve tried to improve my core strength and posture. I still find my gait suffering when I’m tired and I have to concentrate to maintain it but overall I’m so pleased that I didn’t give up running.
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