Last fall, we announced a new partnership with the Froedtert Runners’ Clinic – a fantastic resource for MKE runners. The clinic offers everything from physical therapy to recovery tools to performance enhancement programs.
Today, we’re focusing on the Clinic’s Running Evaluations. You might be thinking, ‘I don’t need one of those – I’m not injured!’ The truth is, all runners can benefit from a Running Evaluation. Getting one just might prevent an injury down the road. At the very least, you’ll gain insight into your running form and things you can do to become more efficient.
Below, Dr. Andrea McCarthy with the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Sports Medicine Center tells us more about the value of getting a Running Evaluation – whether you’re a beginner or have been running for years.
Why is the start of a training cycle a great time to get a Running Evaluation?
By getting a Running Evaluation early, a runner will gain insight into his or her gait mechanics and techniques to improve his or her running form. It is helpful to put these tips to use when you are starting out and your mileage is low. Often times, adjusting your running form requires increased use of different muscles than those you currently rely on. It is best to make this transition with lower mileage to give your body time to adapt and avoid causing overuse injuries.
The start of a training cycle is the time where a runner creates a routine. The Running Evaluation can provide insight into your areas of weakness and allow you to incorporate new exercises into your routine to optimize performance and minimize the likelihood of injuries.
Why is a Running Evaluation beneficial for all runners – whether they are beginners or have been running for years?
Unless you are running in front of a mirror or have a way to record yourself, how we think we run and how we actually run can be two very different things. While I know all the little nuances of my husband’s running gait, I am always surprised how I look when someone captures a picture of me mid race (I pictured myself looking so much more graceful). By recording a runner, we have the ability to slow down images of his or her gait and analyze the fine details that may otherwise go unnoticed. Experienced runners can gain as much insight as novice runners because everyone has at least one or two things that can be improved upon. It’s important to realize that running form can change over the years as a result of things such as injuries, training partners and running terrain.
Even if a runner isn’t currently injured, why a Running Evaluation be a good idea?
The Runners’ Clinic Running Evaluation is actually best suited for non-injured runners. A Running Evaluation is a great way to learn about weaknesses and imbalances that leave a runner prone to certain injuries. By understanding the runner’s strengths and weaknesses, we can establish a program that helps prevent injuries from occurring.
What happens during a typical Runners’ Clinic Running Evaluation?
First, the physical therapist will take the runner’s subjective history including past or present injuries, training regimen and goals. Next, the therapist conducts a brief assessment of the runner’s strength, range of motion and balance. Lastly, the runners gait is recorded on a treadmill for about five to 10 minutes. The therapist will review the recording and analyze the findings with the runner. The therapist relies on information from all three portions of the evaluation to prepare an individualized plan and exercise program for the runner. Each runner should expect several tips to improve his or her running form as well as a few exercises to improve or prevent injuries.
How long does a typical Running Evaluation take? Does the runner need to do anything to prepare?
The evaluation lasts approximately one hour. We ask that you arrive a few minutes early to fill out an intake form. Please wear running clothes and your normal running shoes. We encourage runners to dress based on their comfort levels, but prefer a running outfit that lets us see the most of a runner’s gait. Ideally, we like to see runners in shorts that give a full view of the knee and a tank top or T-shirt that is a different color from the bottoms to allow for us to see hip motion.
What information do runners gain from doing a Running Evaluation?
By reviewing the video with the therapist, the runner will receive information on all aspects of his or her running form. The information will include cadence (how many steps taken per minute), foot strike position, trunk position and knee mechanics, just to name a few. The runner will gain an understanding of weak areas that he or she can strengthen or stretch to avoid injuries or altered mechanics.
Are there follow-up steps after a Running Evaluation?
We provide each runner with several exercises and running tips that can be implemented right away in his or her routine. We offer a 30-minute follow-up session that is included in the cost of the Running Evaluation. The follow-up session can be scheduled several weeks after the initial evaluation. This session allows the runner to check that he or she is performing the exercises correctly and ask the therapist any additional questions or exercise progressions.
Any other comments or info about the Runners’ Clinic Running Evaluations?
The Runners’ Clinic Running Evaluation is best suited for non-injured runners. If a runner has an injury, we recommend going through the steps to obtain a prescription for physical therapy. This can be done by contacting your primary care provider or a sports medicine physician.
At Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin health network, Craig Young, MD, is available to assess your running injuries. Upon receiving a physical therapy script, the runner can call our clinic and schedule a physical therapy evaluation. Please mention that you are a runner and would like to be placed with one of the Runners’ Clinic physical therapists. This will allow us to treat your injury fully over the course of several sessions or weeks. We will complete a Running Evaluation as part of your physical therapy. Unlike the Runners’ Clinic Running Evaluation, the physical therapy can be billed to your insurance.
Thanks so much for chatting with us, Dr. McCarthy! To learn more about the Froedtert Runners’ Clinic, visit http://www.froedtert.com/sports-medicine/runners.
Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!