Coming To Running: Getting ready to Run – Assessment (part 2)
[Coming to Running at 40, 50, 60, 70 years old]
We are thinking about running and avoiding the common pitfall of injury. The risk increases with age. The risk increases with posture and body imbalances, and that’s why we considered an assessment before getting serious about training.
How to choose where to get an assessment? There are many well-trained people who can assess body posture and imbalances. Degrees and post graduate qualification and practice in physiotherapy, osteopathy, chiropractic are all good background.
Professionals will tell you they get most success from delivering treatments they know very well to their usual patients. A physio that rarely treats anyone over the age of 40 will be less qualified to assess the condition of a 70 year old. Likewise a therapist that rarely works with people that do sport will be less able to make judgments in relation to running.
Personal recommendation is often helpful, but it is not enough that the therapist ‘is nice’! I was fortunate with my first port of call – a recommendation from my yoga teacher who had also trained as a sports remedial massage therapist. I described Kevin’s background in the last blog post and his evaluation and approach was very useful.
The next step in assessment is a bit more difficult. The body is basically in good shape and ready to move.
We all know how to run! Even before we could walk, as a baby taking its first steps, we could stagger forward much like running. Everyone has been able to run for most of their lives, but do they do it properly? Running 10 metres to catch the bus is one thing; running 1000 metres or 5×1000 metres is something else.
The therapists mentioned so far will mostly address static problems, they will look at your body standing still, and maybe treat it lying down. To find someone to assess you in motion we need to look elsewhere.
Running coaches with good experience and capability for an all-round assessment are less common. My searches initially revealed expensive gymnasiums with national team champions as clientele and mostly some distance away. Eventually I found a more local team and with them Robby who seemed to fit the bill. “Our Better Running standalone workshop lasts between 90 minutes and 2 hours. In it we take an in-depth look at the how’s and why’s of your running and coach you towards a more efficient, ‘natural’ stride, with less impact and reduced risk of injury. “
First he reviewed my health and sports history; then my near-term running targets. I was studied on the floor of the gym, some of the time jumping on the spot. Next we moved to the treadmill. I ran while he observed and filmed me from the side and from the back. The speed was increased and the process repeated.
The initial view is that there are no obvious impediments to running.
There were some issues with style or posture evident from the film. The angle of the head and torso needed to be more upright. The hips needed to move forward.
This is followed by a session outside where some other points are noted in relation to stride and cadence.
An assessment with a running coach is likely to end with some advise about training. A training plan to meet your objectives is something for a future session, but general advise about exercises for strength and stability can be expected. This provides an insight into how the the basic running needs to be supported by other activity (and you probably thought that running was an activity that was going to support your general fitness on its own!)