Physical Therapists Using Clinical Analysis To Discuss The Art And Science Behind Running and The Stuff We Put On Our Feet

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Good lord I can't believe I actually made it to Spring Break.

    The last two weeks have been very quiet blog-wise due to multiple reasons.  I just survived two weeks of hell, ie DPT school midterms.  It has been a whirlwind of caffeine, no sleep and stress.  I am now laughing at my past self who just 6 months ago thought the first semester was hard.  In addition to that, I injured my foot about a week ago during a uptempo run in the Skechers GoRun Ride 3.  My hypothesis is that I jumped into a very neutral shoe with a higher heel-toe drop than I was used to (the GRR 3 has a 8-9mm drop whereas the Purecadence 1 that I was previously training in had a 4-5mm drop with support) may have exacerbated the amount of pronation I was experiencing.  My assistant professor and I took a look at my foot and after some manual muscle testing, gait analysis and a tuning fork test (testing for stress fractures.  Thankfully it was negative) we began to realize just how bad my pronation issue is and one of the connections of my Posterior Tibialis was seriously pissed off.  The Post Tib functions in plantarflexion and inversion of the foot.  It also plays a huge part in maintaining the arch as well as eccentrically and concentrically controlling the subtalar joint motion during foot strike going through the contact phase, stance phases with pronation, supination and terminal stance phases.  I have always been a huge pronator, but have been a bad DPT student and not addressed the issue/ignored it.  I'm wondering if some of my Achilles issues stemmed from this.... because I've mostly trained in neutral shoes for a long time.  Particularly during my super-minimalist phase.

    Not that pronation is the end all diagnosis.  I'll say this over and over again: when it comes to the mechanics of gait in walking or running, the whole kinetic chain is involved.  Something that happens at the foot is usually a result of something happening at the hip.  And it translates the other way as well.  I'm reevaluating my hip mechanics to see if I've missed anything, other than the fact that I have still have mild imbalances.  Example: my right gluteus medius is a little weak, which is why my right hip drops a bit.  Running mechanics are a constant work in progress because little things will always pop up and the body will compensate for them in amazing and irritating ways.

   Thankfully during this injury I was still able to get some good workouts in thanks to my Elliptigo 8C.  I mentioned this briefly in some previous posts, but I am fortunate enough to have won an Elliptigo from the 2014 Las Vegas CSM physical therapy conference.  I just filled out a little survey after trying one of these things for the first time at the expo and then a week later I got a very special call.  

Yep.  I got the green one.

   Needless to say I was pretty excited, but also a little apprehensive.

   To be honest I've made fun of people who use the Elliptigo for a long time.  I fully admit that.  I think this stems from being a hardcore "Run-Only" type of training guy.  I viewed cross training as needed only during injuries to keep yourself from going insane.  In addition, I had very little success with ellipticals during past injuries in college.  I've found them to not replicate running mechanics very well and never felt like I was getting a good aerobic stimulus from them.  

First Elliptigo Ride (Thanks Rachel  for the video!!)

    Upon receiving my Elliptigo 8C, all those fears were quickly quelled.  The great people at Elliptigo have really done their homework and created a wonderful tool for runners.  Above is my first ride on the Elliptigo and I immediately noticed how different it felt from a normal elliptical.  

    The biomechanics are very similar to running without the impact.  This is achieved with a much greater hip range of motion allowed by the Elliptigo, particularly through really good hip extension.  If anything having one of these might help your running form (Not confirmed.  Just a thought).  I immediately noticed that my glutes were really working, as opposed to the normal quad tightness I've experienced with ellipticals.  I attribute this to the hip extension allowed.  My inner physical therapist was quite aroused (in a good way, not a weird way).  Stimulating the glutes to work over the quads is almost always a good thing! 

   As excited as I was about my new cross training tool, I didn't use it much after that first ride until a few weeks later.  Why you ask?  Because Pomona has NOTHING in the way of bike lanes and the streets are horrendous.  I'm pretty sure if I tried to take my Elliptigo out for an actual workout, I would get hit by a car or shot.  Or both.  

Enter an example of the Stationary Trainer.  This is not mine.  I have the Kinetic Road Trainer 2.0

    This is when I decided to get my hands on the Kinetic Road Trainer 2.0 with an adapter for the Elliptigo. And I can say it was well worth the investment (especially since I got the Elliptigo for free).  Once I got my hands on the stationary trainer, the Elliptigo started getting used a great deal more.

    I have to say I am very impressed with how much of an aerobic stimulus I get from using this awesome tool.  Every time I've used the Elliptigo (time ranging from 30 to 60 minutes) I've come away with sweat pouring off me (even with a fan, which I put up later) and fatigued in a good way.  It really provides a good stimulus that is CLEARLY above and beyond what an elliptical provides (even with the stationary trainer).

    What makes the stationary trainer and Elliptigo combo even better is that I can study while using it!  I've been using a large binder clip and attaching my class notes to the handlebars to get studying and a second "workout" in.  As DPT school has continued on, I've realize that I have less and less time to do things outside of school.  Adding the Ellptigo into my routine has allowed me to get some really good aerobic work in while still preparing for class and exams.  Plus without as much impact, I can still run at a high level due to the high level of work I can put in.  I've found myself recovering faster due to replacing that second run with a non-impact form of exercise.  My normal runs have been increasing in pace due to both my increasing aerobic capacity and possibly my glutes firing better.  Those are the major muscles that are sore after using the Elliptigo, which is perfect.  Those are the muscles you really want to be using during running if you want to run fast!

Just posing with my new Elliptigo.  And no.  I don't wear jeans while I use it.  

    The Elliptigo was especially handy with my foot injury last week during the harder of the two weeks of 2nd semester midterms.  Luckily it didn't aggravate my posterior tib at all and I could still hammer away.  It allowed me to study without going completely insane from a lack of physical activity.  And I got a lot of studying done on that thing.  Although I was probably driving my neighbors nuts from working out on the Elliptigo in my apartment (with the stationary trainer) at 6am most mornings before class and again at 8 or 9 pm in the evenings.  For their sake I'll hopefully heal up quickly and get back to running in the morning and Elliptigoing (Is that a word?  If not, it is now) in the evening for 30-45 minutes.  

    I feel very fortunate to have one of these tools that is and will continue to be a integral part of my training.  I am very excited to see where the Elliptigo helps take my training.  I cannot recommend it highly enough.  This product has changed my view of cross training because it does such a good job of stimulating your aerobic system with impact.  Do I still hate ellipticals?  Yes.  Is the Elliptigo the same as an elliptical?  Hell no.  Like I said before, the people at Elliptigo have done their homework and created a wonderful thing.  Do I love the Elliptigo?  Hell yes.  Go check one out.  

Thanks for reading!

As always, my opinions are my own!

Tack On!

-Matthew Klein, SPT 

*I won the Elliptigo 8C from the 2014 Las Vegas CSM physical therapy conference and it was provided free of charge.  This did not change my view of the product.  However I would like to thank the kind people at Elliptigo for giving me the opportunity to try the Elliptigo.

Please go check out the Elliptigo website.  They have some really great products that I highly recommend.  Elliptigo is an awesome company with a bright future.

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