Finishing strong: New service offered for runners could help prevent injury, improve efficiency

Aug 17, 2016, 13:57 PM by KirstiAnn Clifford
Run2 Are you a serious runner who always gets aches and pains at mile 14 of a marathon? Are you looking to improve your form and shed a few seconds off your 10K personal record?

If so, a video running analysis could help. The analysis is a new service now offered by UTMB’s Occupational and Physical Therapy Clinic in Galveston.

“So many things come into play when you are running, from your stride to your foot strike,” said Tyler Morrison, a rehabilitation aide and certified strength and conditioning specialist. “People think running is simple, but It’s actually a highly complex motion involving the entire body. Our goals are to help identify ‘bad habits’ that could lead to injuries and to improve overall efficiency.”

As part of the analysis, Morrison records video of the patient running on a treadmill from several angles. He also performs a Functional Movement Screen that assesses seven basic movement patterns for functional limitations and asymmetries. Morrison works alongside Jeanne Smith, a sports and orthopedic certified physical therapist specialist, who analyzes the video with state-of-the-art software to identify movement impairments that are impeding efficiency and potentially leading to overuse injury.

“I have software that slows the video down to 60 frames per second, so I can really see things like foot and ankle position when they hit the ground,” said Smith, who was a sprinter and hurdler in college. “From that, we can help people understand foot strike and what it means for the body and the amount of stress and wear and tear it places on us. Depending on where the weaknesses are, I can suggest exercises to improve form and prevent injuries.”

Sarah Jones, a business operations manager with Perioperative Services, said the video analysis was helpful to her in preparing for the Chicago Marathon in October. She runs about 35 miles a week and wants to improve her form and stay injury-free throughout training.

DSC_0838“They broke down my whole stride and provided some helpful critiques,” said Jones. “Now when I’m running, I implement their suggestions, such as extending my legs back further and keeping my arms at my side, especially when I’m tired. It is the small adjustments that can make a big difference. If it helps shave off a few seconds per mile, that would be an added bonus.”

Smith hopes to get more runners like Jones into the clinic before an injury occurs.

“I want to help keep the running community happy and healthy; preventing injuries is the main focus,” said Smith. “For runners to take part in this analysis, they have to be pain-free. We can give tips for form and improving their efficiency, but can’t treat someone with injuries unless a doctor refers them to PT. I can help point out where the main issues are that may be causing them to lose speed and give them exercises to target that. If I can help runners be more proactive instead of reactive—and enjoy the sport even more—I’d like to do that.”

The video analysis costs $100 and is ideal for healthy runners looking to improve form and efficiency, not for the injured individual requiring rehabilitation. If you are injured, a running analysis can be conducted once you are pain-free and cleared to return to running by your physician.

For more information, contact Tyler Morrison or Jeanne Smith at 409-772-8834.