Archive for gait lab

Feeling Stuck? (TIPS On How To Manage The Inevitable Ups and Downs)

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the wind in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
    ~Mark Twain

1464594_10151779280753247_1902748399_nHave you ever felt discouraged that things don't seem to flow out or manifest as you hope that they would? Ever felt lost for motivation to keep at the good fight, when it seems that many more times than not, things seem to go more wrong than right? Are you struggling with injury right now and wondering if it will ever end? Recently, I've received a number of notes from athletes asking about how best to motivate ourselves and push forward when we are discouraged. Sometimes the writer describes it using words like frustration, or feeling "stuck," and even angry, and they want to know how to turn things around. That's a great question!

First, this is our collective humanity folks. We ALL feel discouraged or frustrated or "stuck" at some point in our lives and with our training. Whether it's being at our "wits end" with an injury (DON'T run through it, no matter how much you might want to. Read this to learn more!) that hasn't healed, or being frustrated with the economy or a business venture that seems stuck, or confused by our own behavior toward something we very much want but seem unable to achieve, we all have these feelings.

As Scott Peck says in the first line of his best selling book, The Road Less Traveled, “Life is difficult.” Yup.  🙂  No one has a life without problems and difficulties. This is characteristic of what it means to be human.  I think in all of my years, I've finally (hopefully) learned that happiness is given by how we manage the problems we’ve got, not the absence of problems. If we manage large problems well, we can be very happy. If we manage small problems poorly, we can be assured of sadness and frustration.  However, there is a corollary to this, yes? People can be measured by the size of the problems they undertake! Great accomplishments never come without great problems. Big people undertake large problems (such as solving global warming). Small people restrict themselves to small problems (like whether that guy in the other lane cut you off or not).

All of that being said, one key to finding resolution is to ask the RIGHT questions. It's common to hear someone ask questions like,  "Why am I so stuck?" or, "Why does this always happen to me?" Notice the assumptions that are made about being "so" stuck and that this sense of discouragement or frustration "always" happens. With questions like that, no wonder there's frustration and a sense of hopelessness.

A much better question might be, "How do highly successful people handle these normal experiences?"

Here are a few of my observations about how successful people handle the normal roadblocks and frustrations of life, and that includes being injured.

1. First, successful people learn they must face the truth and acknowledge that what they are doing isn't working. They do NOT keep beating their heads against a wall. Stop the madness!  If you're discouraged, frustrated, or stuck, be honest enough to say, "this isn't working" and take a rest. That means if you're fighting an injury, get to the root cause of WHY the injury occured. Contact us and we will help. Check out the testimonials on our site and hear from folks who have been there and are now better than ever.

2. Second, successful people seek the truth and understand there is a difference between being discouraged, which often has to do with being tired (it may be time for a day off or a recovery week), verses real depression, which is an illness (it may be time to see the doc). Frustration is normal and can be seen as a belief that what you're working toward is possible, it just isn't happening.  In all things, seek the truth.

3. Succesful people ensure their values and highest aspirations align. Often we are frustrated because our goal isn't consistent with our values. Sometimes we self-sabotage or procrastinate because deep inside we don't truly want the thing we say we want. Human beings can achieve amazing results when they are totally committed. Unfortunately, we are also capable of fooling ourselves about this.

4. Again, successful people ask great questions. They ask themselves, "what parts of my goal have I achieved?", or "How have other people solved this problem?" They consult with experts, read books, and find answers to questions that can help them move forward. If nothing else, they'll ask, "What other crazy, off-the-wall thing could I try just for fun?"   🙂

5. They take a DIFFERENT action. After taking a deep breath and asking great questions, highly successful people do something different.  They try another way. They are willing to look in the mirror and face the truth in order to move forward positively. Are you?

Sometimes I think discouragement or a sense of impending failure and frustration are actually useful "early warning signs". They are the brain's way of telling us our objective is reachable, but that we might be going about it the wrong way. These normal feelings and experiences tell us that maybe we need to step back, get a new perspective, take a deep breath! Strategize. Get creative. Ask better questions. Seek help from others who care and who have the tools to help you.

Clarify your values and be certain your highest aspirations support you in achieving your goal. I think ambivalence over our outcomes is perhaps the greatest source of discouragement.  Do you want to finish atop your age-group and qualify for Kona yet don't want to commit to finally resolving that niggling injury or attacking your weaknesses? 🙂

Lastly, seek inner peace in the face of these entirely normal human feelings and experiences. As hard as it may be to do, this requires giving up the notion that “there is something wrong.” Giving this up means that everything is exactly the way it is supposed to be, and exactly the way it is not. In the space of such detachment you can be both peaceful and powerful. This detachment doesn't mean that we aren't commited to principles or a philosophy, or that we are satisfied with the current state of our world. But we can fulfill those commitments much more powerfully from a position of inner peace, than from one of upset, fear, anger or rage.

When our values align with our goals, and we ask the right questions, anything is possible! Use discouragement to your advantage! It's your brain telling you to listen up, develop a better strategy, and work smarter rather than harder.


~Coach Al

Variety Is Greatly Overrated. Here’s Why! (Including TIPS On How To Progress!)

Despite what some believe, strength is NOT the goal with the movement training we do. Strength is a symptom ....a symptom of moving well.  In a similar vein, speed training is not the optimal path toward improving our fitness.  Improved fitness leads to improved speed potential. Speed is a product of moving well and improved fitness.  

~Coach Al

Strength isn't the goal! Strength is only a symptom of moving well!

Strength isn't the goal! Strength is only a symptom of moving well!

Here at Pursuit Athletic Performance, Kurt and I believe the true value and benefit to movement based strength training resides in digging DEEPER into the basic skill and integration of  a movement.

In this day and age, with athletes becoming bored so easily and instant gratification being so prevalent in every phase of our life and culture, digging deeper into a movement vs. moving "on" from the movement is often difficult (and even frustrating) for the individual athlete to fully embrace.  We seem to frequently fall victim to the mindset of always looking for the next "great" exercise, the next great "tip," or how we can blast on to the more "advanced" stuff, thinking its a magic bullet to the success we seek.

Whether or not you like it, the truth is that the devil is in the details and the magic to optimal progression and exploding your potential is in true mastery of the basics and fundamentals.  This single concept, while easy to read, might be the most challenging for the average person to accept and embrace, but it IS the key to long term, meaningful success.

So, yes, variety is greatly overrated.  To reiterate, once the shiny newness of an exercise wears off and you’re “bored” with it because it's not “new” anymore, you’re forced to get deeper into it, or bail out and just move on to something else “new” and “exciting.”  I’d argue the best choice is the former, not the latter. 

Of course, that being said, there are a great many ways to enhance the quality (and thus results) of the training you are doing, rather than to change exercises.  For example:

1. Use a slower rep speed. 

  1. It’s common for folks to move in and out of movements quickly.
  2. It’s common to see folks come out of the bottom of a movement quickly, rather than “owning” that bottom portion.
  3. Use a count of 4 – 1 - 3 seconds: 4 seconds lowering – 1 second pause at the bottom – 3 seconds raising.
  4. Removing the ‘elastic’ or rebound component to better own each phase of the movement.

2. Decrease your leverage. 

  1. Think about the HUGE difference in difficulty between a double arm push-up with a wide arm position, and a single arm push-up! Huge difference in leverage.
  2. On the topic of stability, a tiny difference in how wide your arms or knees are really changes how difficult the exercise is to do well!

3. Improve your focus and tension! 

  1. Where’s the hard in your exercise coming from?
  • From inside of you? Posture, breathing, focus?
  • Or is it coming from OUTside of you?  Are you thinking a different exercise, or more weight (outside of you) will automatically make you stronger? Not going to happen.
  • We need to consciously PRODUCE that tension, even when moving a relatively small amount of weight.
  • Focus, tension management, radiation of tension throughout!
  • “Intensity” and “strength” isn’t just about moving more weight. Its about bringing a certain level of whole-body tension and focus into every movement.
  • In RKC/HKC circles as well as in power lifting circles, there’s a saying: “If you make your lighter weights feel heavier, your heavier weights will feel lighter.” Practice the focus and tension skills with lighter resistance, you’ll get more benefit from every movement you do!

Happy Trails!

~Coach Al

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

15% Off On-Site or Online Gait Analysis Packages NOW Through Marathon Monday, April 16

pursuit athletic performance, gait, gait analysis, online gait analysis, virtual gait analysis, boston marathon, triathlon, cyclingSpring is in the air and that means the Boston Marathon is around the corner! The triathlon, cycling and field sport seasons are heating up too! It's a great time to get your season off to the best start ever with an in-depth look at how your body is moving.


What can our gait/movement analysis tell you? To start....

  • Where are you leaking speed?
  • Why are you stuck in a performance plateau?
  • Do you have hot spots ripe for injury?
  • Injured regularly? We'll figure out why
  • How will you hold up to training?
  • How will you ultimately perform?
  • You KNOW you can go faster, but nothing is working?

For many athletes, gait analysis provides the missing link to resolving all of those questions.

We can help you start 2012 in the most empowered way possible with a custom gait analysis for yourself or a loved one. On-site and online options available.

True gait analysis is not a generic exercise, but is a scientifically-based and technically precise process. It is highly individualized. At PAP, we systematically attack YOUR weaknesses while enhancing YOUR strengths.

We teach you a specific, precise way to progress that--over time--allows you train in a way that WILL unleash your ultimate potential. Novice or elite; front, middle or back-of-the-pack finisher, we work with all athletes.

You can be a runner, cyclist, swimmer, triathlete -- you name it.

If you want to improve your performance, durability, resiliency, and SPEED while enhancing your overall quality of life, and greatly lower your risk for injury, we have the best program of its kind to help you meet your goals--and transcend beyond.


Gluteal Amnesia? Here’s Your Rx

Functional strength training activates the gluteal muscles

Gluteus maximus (Anv?ndare:Chrizz, CC BY-SA 3.0)

"Gluteal amnesia" is a great phrase coined by Stuart McGill, PhD, one of the world's foremost experts on spine biomechanics. And you know what? Based on the athletes we see coming into our Gait Analysis Lab every day, you probably have it. And it's not a good thing.

So much of athletic performance depends on the optimal functioning of your butt and all the gluteal muscles--maximus, medius and minimus--in concert with the functional integrity of your hips and pelvis. This is the powerhouse that generates propulsive athletic movement, and when functioning properly, is majorly important in helping to prevent injuries.

"Gluteal amnesia" is particularly detrimental to athletes. Many of us in modern society have lost our ability to engage the butt muscles and hips during exercise due to lifestyles that include a great deal of sitting, driving, being hunched over a computer, etc. When the ability to move correctly and with functional integrity is lost, performance is adversely affected for sure, and the risk of injury rises exponentially.

Functional Integity of the Pelvis & Hips: Gluteal Activation Enhances Athleticism and Injury Prevention, published in Dynamic Chiropractic, is a great article that goes in-depth on the importance of the function of the glutes, hips, and pelvis. It's worth your time to read it for a deeper understanding of how important the issue is to your athletic performance.

We want to make clear, however, that overcoming "gluteal amnesia" is about more than simply strengthening the glutes. We encourage you to revisit our posts on functional strength training and authentic movement to learn more about the importance of establishing and owning a neutral pelvis, achieving muscular balance, and becoming stable. Getting functionally strong, activating your glutes, and strengthening your hips is far more than just throwing a bunch of exercises at your body, especially if you do them with bad form, or if they're an incorrect exercise for you. We hope to help you put the pieces together to learn how exceptional athleticism is derived, then have you take action. Conquering overall "functional amnesia" is how to unlock your potential, and become the best athlete you can be.

Now My Eyes Are Wide Open! Triathlete Shares Gait Lab Experience

Pursuit Athletic Performance Gait Lab Client Jess Withrow

Client Jess Withrow on the run at Ironman Louisville

A huge thank you to client Jess Withrow for writing Operation Rebuild, a smart, thoughtful, and funny blog post about her recent gait analysis experience here with us. Her post is the kind of feedback that buoys us here at the Gait Lab, and makes our work so gratifying.

Jess writes:
The Doc and The Coach had me figured out and gave me possibly the most eye-opening experience I've EVER had. Sure, sure, I know my glutes are weak and my pelvis is anteriorly rotated. BUT! To see it on have the visual of my hip dropping, my lats taking the day off while my traps work overtime, and to combine that with the knowledge from the Functional Movement Screen--NOW my eyes are wide open.

I got to work on my exercise program THAT NIGHT and I'm feeling significant changes already--after just one week.

One thing we know for sure is that Jess and her husband John, who also came in for a gait analysis, are athletes who "get it." We know they are committed and will do the work to not only become "unbroken," but to see their performance soar--leaving sub-par outcomes and injury in the rear view mirror.

Jess, thank you so much again for your kind words. Here's to the VERY BEST 2012 season for both you and John!!