Archive for gait analysis lab

We Are All An Experiment of One: Find Out What YOU Need The Most and Then Get It Done!

TEAM Pursuit Athletes at the 2013 Timberman Half Ironman triathlon!

TEAM Pursuit Athletes at the 2013 Timberman Half Ironman triathlon!

In order to be able to run as fast and as long as you would like to and remain injury-free while doing it, your running body must be BOTH strong and flexible. Think about this fact: approximately 50% of the energy that propels you forward during the running stride comes from elastic and reactive “energy-return” of your muscles! While you’re taking that in, think about this: at the same time that certain muscles are required to be elastic and reactive, others need to be very stiff and strong, to prevent your body turning into a wet-noodle as your feet hit the ground!

Muscles tense and lengthen and release and stretch (helping to facilitate rotation around your joints while doing all of that!) as they prepare to store energy and absorb outside impact forces and turn that stored energy into forward propulsion. There’s a lot more going on during the stride than you could ever imagine!

And while all of these things are happen within each of our bodies while we run, they happen at different rates of speed and relaxation and ease for each of us. We are, at once the same, and yet very different.

Some of us need more STRENGTH and STIFFNESS in our “chain,” while others need more FLEXIBILITY and ELASTICITY and MOBILITY.  We each have our own “limiters” and weaknesses which may be making us either more prone to injury, or limiting our speed and endurance potential.

So given all of that, do YOU know what your weakness is?

For example…

  • Are you prone to calf injuries because your calves are forced to absorb impact forces due to “too tight” hips?
  • Do you lean back on downhills and “hurt,” suffering from painful quadriceps during those downhills because your quads are too weak to absorb those impact forces and prevent your body from collapsing against the forces of gravity?
  • Are you still landing out in front of your center of mass, even though you know you shouldn’t, because your hams and glutes are not “reactive” enough (too slow) and weak to contract quickly, getting your feet UNDER your hips as you touch down?
  • Does your low back hurt during the late stages of your longer runs or rides because its trying to do the work your butt should be doing?
  • Is your stride short and choppy because your hip flexors are so tight they can’t release to allow your pelvis to rotate forward so that your legs can extend behind you as you drive horizontally forward with each stride?

These are the questions and issues we ALL need to consider, and for each of us, it is different. If you take the time to listen to your body and consider what YOUR weakness or limiters are, then you’ll be able to address it and as a result, improve and run to your true potential!

The answers you are seeking are not always found through “harder” training. Sometimes the answers come when we listen within.  Sometimes things like YOGA or revisiting the BASICS and FUNDAMENTALS, are the path to exploding our true potential, rather than another hard track session.

Our unique Pursuit Athletic Performance “Gait Analysis” system was designed to help us help YOU, learn what it is that YOU need the most! To learn more, go here to learn more about our analysis packages.

Check out our testimonials page here to learn more about the success stories of so many athletes who learned what THEY needed to do to truly explode their potential!

Happy Trails!

~Coach Al

I Have NO PAIN After My Ironman! Why?

Coach Al Lyman, Pursuit Athletic Performance, Gait Analysis and Functional Strength Training Expert

Coach Al Lyman, CSCS, FMS, HKS

Great story for you today!

One of our clients, and a triathlete I coach, had a terrific day at Ironman Coeur d’Alene on June 24. Her super finish is all the more sweet when you consider that she came to us last winter a seriously BROKEN athlete. For the previous few years she had followed a training plan that focuses on daily intensity, actively discourages athletes from strength work, and promotes a “just train more” philosophy. Like most athletes, our triathlete did OK for a while on this kind of plan, putting up gains and getting faster.

But then the inevitable kicked in.

Without proper strength, stability, mobility, flexibility to support ANY kind of training–much less the kind of program she was on–our athlete fell apart. She could not absorb the training, she was not recovering, and her times got slower. End result? Injury. (Unfortunately, we see this scenario in our Gait Analysis Lab every day.)

Our triathlete came to us for a gait analysis last winter. Through our findings, we went to work to rebuild her, and then train her hard, but sensibly, for her Ironman. She took our work together seriously. As the months passed her body became functionally strong, durable, and resilient. She was able to train with appropriate intensity, absorb the training, and recover. She made serious gains in power and speed. And as we said, she had a great Ironman race day.

But take a look at how she feels now, only a few days out from the race:

I have to say that this has been my must amazing post race ever. I was walking and sitting yesterday like it was 2 or 3 days post marathon. Unbelievable. It’s strange, every time I sit or stand I brace myself for pain but it isn’t there. I guess this is what being healthy, balanced, and functionally strong is all about! Essentially pain free post IM. Un-frickin-believable!”

This athlete emailed me to ask WHY she felt so good? Here the reasons, all of which are very obvious to me.

1. She was not remotely injured going into the race.

2. She was and is stronger than she has ever been. Hence, her body was able to deal with the stress of race day much more easily.

3. She was more balanced and more “fit” in a holistic sense, than ever before.

4. For the first time, she went into a race with a training plan that was designed to bring her fitness along smartly, rather than destroy her into injury and poor health submission.

My partner, Dr. Kurt Strecker, and I are thrilled for this client. We know how far she has come from the broken athlete that walked into our Gait Analysis Lab last winter. As her coach, I am thrilled at where she is at this point in time. Now, FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME, she can now unleash and get faster. Why?

Strength, stability, muscular balance, and good health are the basis for a training program designed to get you fast. That’s right, it’s not punishing intensity or the latest-and-greatest secret-sauce training. Movement quality FIRST is the only way to get fast, stay fast, and get faster over time.

It’s like we tell athletes all the time, when your body is working as it should, it will race well AND also recover quickly and completely. It’s how our athletes race again and again, year after year.

We wish every competitor, from Ironman to 5K runner, the same sense of accomplishment and good health our triathlete here is experiencing. She has a heck of a post-Ironman glow, and we are so happy for her

Coach Al

Runner, Once Frustrated, Learns How to Refine His Form

One of our great clients, Glen Elliot, does a terrific job explaining the frustration most runners face when trying to improve their form. He tried to work on every cue in the book while running–cadence, land on forefoot, good posture, etc.–and came to the conclusion, “this just isn’t working.” A few weeks after his gait analysis and subsequent training with us, Glen returns to the lab for a tune up. What you will hear is his “lightbulb moment.”

Great job, Glen! You are really fitting together all the pieces of the puzzle!

Learn Something New About How You’re Moving!

Coach Al Lyman

Coach Al Lyman, CSCS, FMS, HKC

Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere. ~Chinese Proverb

Matt Kredich, the women’s swim coach at University of Tennessee, gave an excellent talk at the American Swim Coaches Association convention I attended. There are many things I could expound upon from Matt’s talk, but one thing he said about setting goals for dryland training rang especially true for me:

If we move the body through the RIGHT sequence of movement, the body learns something. ~Matt Kredich

That simple statement is a summary of what my partner Dr. Kurt Strecker and I emphasize daily with our Pursuit Athletic Performance athletes and clients in our Gait Analysis Lab. It is what I preach to the athletes I coach in regards to proper, authentic movement in strength training, and in all sport skills. This is how I see it:

  • Moving authentically = quality learning = improving skills = more efficiency, economy and better production of force = more power = more speed!
  • Moving poorly or not correctly = poor learning = less skill development = less power AND increased risk of injury = stagnant or lack of improvement, or worse, injury and burnout, mentally and physically.

I fully believe that my enthusiasm for what I do as a coach and athlete is grounded in the idea of continual LEARNING and growth, NOT in simply training hard and racing.

So I encourage you–this week, go out and LEARN something new about how you’re moving! The year is new, and it’s great time to do so. Since this post was inspired by a swim coach, let’s stick with the sport of swimming. Here are a couple of suggestions that can help you learn about how you’re moving in the water:

1. Find a coach in your area who is versed in training on the Vasa swim ergometer. (The Vasa is such a great training tool, and we’ll talk more about that in future posts.) Being on the Vasa with someone who can give you appropriate feedback is a great way to LEARN about how you move when you swim. We have no reason when on the Vasa to NOT move correctly. Swimming or any other movement starts with executing some basic proper skills. The Vasa is great for this skills-based learning.

2. Videotape yourself in the water. Video work is essential! How else will you know what you’re doing? And if you don’t know what you’re doing, how can you know what must change to improve? Start videotaping yourself, and do it routinely. Start now.

We spend so many hours training, yet so few of those hours are spent really trying to understand what we should do, vs. what we are actually doing. In my mind, that adds up to a fairly large amount of wasted time and energy.

Think it’s time for me to schedule another swim clinic….

A Quick Fitness Boost Now…Or Faster, Lasting Results in the Long Run?

Coach Al Lyman, gait analysis and functional movement expert

Coach Al Lyman, CSCS, FMS, HKC

Don’t put fitness on top of dysfunction.Gray Cook, PT, co- creator of the Functional Movement Screen

If you are like most endurance athletes in the northern hemisphere, you’ve put the 2011 season behind you, and are anxiously looking toward 2012 hoping to make it even better. Among the things you might be pondering is whether to add a new piece of training equipment or whether to start a new training program. Before you decide which new tools or tricks you want to add to your training mix, I highly recommend you take a step back for a moment, and begin your path to a great 2012 season by first taking a focused look at the quality, rather than just the quantity, of your movement. More miles or reps at the beginning stages of training, if some aspect of your movement is inefficient, causes pain, or is putting you at higher risk of injury, is short sighted and will surely end up slowing your ultimate progress. In short, avoid adding progressive fitness elements to your training (positives) before you resolve lingering sources of pain, inefficiency, or dysfunction (negatives).

More specifically, the “negatives” might be:

1. A restriction in movement or lack of appropriate mobility where it is needed.

2. A lack of stability or muscle balance.

3. A nagging injury that you’ve been nursing for a while resulting in other tissues being forced to compensate or absorb more stress than they were designed to handle.

Even a subtle lack of balanced strength and flexibility around the hips/pelvis, or in other joints in the body, will prevent you from achieving the desired results from challenging workouts. In a way, it would be akin to a farmer trying to plant seeds on gravel. They (the workouts) simply won’t be landing on fertile soil and will have little chance of producing a bountiful harvest. And a bountiful harvest–results– is what matters!

The bottom line: You have to move well before you throw reps, high heart rate, and miles at your movement pattern.

My suggestion to you: choose to reverse the “negatives” now!

Here are some TIPS to help you do just that:

o Know this: when you massage or use a foam roller on “healthy” muscle tissue, it shouldn’t be painful. If doing foam roller work is painful, the tissue has lingering micro-trauma and damage. Be smart and take care of the soft tissue work now to ensure normal muscle elasticity when you resume more progressive training.

o Get screened and/or evaluated by a knowledgeable professional who knows (and can show you) the difference between core “strength” and core “stability.” There is a difference! The best “screen” I know of is the Functional Movement Screen (FMS), which is an excellent way to learn what your weak links, asymmetries, and overall risk of injury is. Find a certified provider near you.

o If appropriate levels of flexibility are an issue it is going to interfere with training at some point. Remember, you might be “inflexible” in certain places because your body is creating stiffness due to a weak synergistic muscle somewhere else. Things aren’t always as they seem. Learn about Active Isolated Stretching and focus your flexibility work on muscles that are tight due to your lifestyle (sitting at a desk or behind the steering wheel for example).

o Poor mobility, stability, or balance will interfere with training. Get them cleared at the beginning of your training, so that they won’t limit your progress or create greater risk of injury moving forward.

o You can visit me and my partner, Dr. Kurt Strecker, at our Gait Analysis Lab and get a full assessment of all of the above items, starting with a detailed exam, FMS, and 3D-video analysis. We also do online assessments also for those of you who cannot make it to the lab.

o Besides being assessed by a professional, start videotaping every exercise you are doing in your routine. Learn and study what good movement is and improve your awareness of how you are moving.

All of the above applies whether you are a novice or elite athlete. We know that the central nervous system (CNS) of talented high-level athletes is much better at compensating than the average person’s CNS. However, an elite or a top age group athlete could still have a restriction in movement, or a lack of basic core stability or compensation that is holding them back. Here’s a prime example.

Lis Kenyon, who I coach, WON her age-group in Kona this year (and set a course record doing the same in 2010). She recently visited our Gait Lab. We discovered a number of issues related to stability, muscle balance, and strength. Despite the fact that she handily beat the best in the world in her age-group, she still has room for improvement and can be even healthier–and faster. As her coach, I feel that is exciting and is something that we can all learn from.

To summarize, this is a little bit like the story of The Tortoise and the Hare. You could start out now with workouts designed to achieve fast fitness benefits. OR you can decide to learn how to move better now, and increase the chances of finishing stronger and better later in the season. If you get it right in the beginning of the training process and progress steadily forward, you will most certainly increase your chances of “winning” in the end, beating the hares every time. Improving how you move NOW will pay big dividends in the long run, in the form of improved vitality, youthfulness, and much faster race results!