Like many runners, I jumped on the natural running bandwagon a few years back. And I am still a believer in less shoe, aiming to land under your center of gravity, and landing quietly with a high cadence. But I think when I changed my form I put the focus on changing from heel striking to mid foot striking, and then got lazy and didn’t do much else. Which wasn’t the right way to go about it. Yesterday’s PT appointment with my miracle worker Robert kind of served as a reality check on that theory.
After all the structural hard work I have put into my running the past few months, Robert had me get onto a treadmill so that he could see where I stood from a functional standpoint. Now, I’ve had PTs perform a gait analysis on me more than once. I’ve always heard about dropped hips, less than stellar glute firing, etc., etc. when I’ve been analyzed. Robert took a bit of a different approach and turned the analysis into a functional fix.
The first thing he did was listen to me run. This told him if I hit the ground hard or light (somewhere in between). It also told him whether or not I hit harder on one side than the other (I did and it was of course my oft-injured right side). Then he took a look at me running and began having me play around with different cues. One cue seemed to make me land lighter, under my center of gravity, and with far fewer imbalances. You can guess where this is headed, right? He had me heel strike.
Oh the irony! While it felt unnatural to me to do it, I have to admit, I was a MUCH quieter runner when I did it. My cadence picked up, and from what Robert observed, I wasted far less energy with up and down bobbing, and evened out my arm carriage to boot.
So hey, if that’s what it takes, that what it takes. My focus on the next few weeks is to maintain the short runs I’ve been doing four times per week while using that heel striking cue. I have no pride hung up on mid-foot striking, believe me. Just don’t ask me to wear Hokas!
What’s the best fix a PT ever gave you? Heel striker or mid-foot striker?