The Science of Injury Recovery

Yes, another post about recovering from injury.  Yet this one is not so much about healing, but about discovery of root problems and preparing for the future.  I intend on being a player in the obstacle racing game for awhile.  To do that at a high (maybe even elite?) level, I cannot continuously battle injuries, especially to the foot and knee.  Fortunately, since I work at a university with an academic medical center I have access to some really knowledgable and skilled sports medicine professionals.  While continuing my recovery efforts from knee bursitis, ITBS, and stress reaction, I took advantage of these resources and signed up for the runner’s injury clinic.

Part 1 of the clinic was a gait analysis and was the really cool part.  I am not at liberty to provide all the details online because the PT leading the running lab needs to protect his research techniques.  The short of it is that a couple dozen sensors were attached to me and I was videoed running on a treadmill for about 10 minutes.  The PT then utilized his computer program to calculate a variety of measurements (like hip rotation, knee flexion, etc.) and compare them with those of normal/healthy runners.  Part 2 consisted of that PT, another PT whom I’ve worked with before, and a sports physician meeting with me for about 30 minutes.  Together they addressed all aspects of my injury(s), did some tests, and discussed the results of my gait analysis.  So here it is:

The Bad:

  • My running form puts an abnormally high amount of pressure and torque on my knees, especially the right knee.
  • I don’t rotate my right hip enough.
  • I land with way too much knee flexion
  • My hips sway while running.  I told them that was for the benefit of the runners behind me, but they didn’t buy it!
  • Not only do I overpronate, but I stay in overpronation and push off on my first metatarsal (big toe).  That explains the stress reaction there.
  • I run completely with my legs.  Who knew that was wrong?!  Apparently, I do not utilize the stronger hip and glute muscles like I’m supposed to.

The Good

  • This should be correctable with lots of physical therapy, stretching, and concentration while running.
  • I am light on my feet.  I land very softly when I run, but the downside is that I transfer that energy to my knees.
  • I was told that I’m a fast runner, but if I learn to use my hips and glutes, I’ll be even faster.  Yay for that!

I was given some steroids to hopefully get rid of the swelling so that I can concentrate on strengthening and stretching.  Now that we have a good idea of what caused the problem, I can work on fixing it to prevent a re-occurrence.

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