Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Everything is wrong with me

On Monday I went back to Stewart the "running therapist" to revisit the videotapes he took of me last week. Despite his non-high-tech setup (just a handheld camera and a treadmill), the quantity of observations gleaned were impressive. Last week he taped me from all four sides both walking (barefoot) and running (with shoes). And this week I learned all the things that are wrong with my stride. Any variation from perfect form has the potential to result in pain if one runs enough distance. Extra movement/rotation causes rubbing which causes irritation as I have well learned. And I have a lot of variations from perfect or more bluntly, things wrong with me. After going through them all I wondered if perhaps I should be considered inhuman. Observe... (1) In the middle of my stride as the foot starts to leave the ground, you can see my heel come off the ground before the rest of my foot. As in: heel-comes-up, pause, rest-of-foot-lifts. I can't tell you exactly what is bad about this motion other than it is clearly not smooth. I can tell you the cause - tight calf muscles. As I come to that part of my stride, the tight calf wants to pull the heel off the ground. (2) Just after the motion described above, the rest of my foot leaves the ground but it does not stay straight. It kicks off to the side a bit. The results of this are calluses/blisters on the bottom of my foot and extra rotational motion. And the cause is a tight big toe of all things. Apparently, a normal person can pull his big toe 90° upwards. I can pull mine, I don't know, 20°-ish? This lack of ability to bend makes my foot rotate in compensation. I asked if this is due to my penchant for wearing shoes at all times inside the house or out but he said no, it's just how I am. Poor listgirl, she always wants to break me of that habit. But I'm telling you, you could break your toe if it's just sitting out there naked! (3) When I land on one leg, the opposite hip dips a bit. If you watch the waistband on the video you can see it clearly. Physics dictates that this will happen to some degree, but I've got too much of it going on. This is caused by my infamous (on this blog anyway) weak butt. The gluteus minimus and gluteus medius perform the stabilizing motions around the hips and mine are too weak to hold my hips properly level. Most men can't move their hips at all but I guess you can have too much of a good thing. I used to be a semi-regular inline skater. In fact, I did an inline marathon once. I asked if dropping that hobby (as I did in 2009 to focus on running) might have deprived me of my only consistent glut-strengthening activity. Stewart thought that was a good theory and I should get those bad boys back out. (4) As I enter the followthrough portion of my stride, the leg is pulled back forward too soon. The ideal is a 50° angle between the right and left legs at the widest point. I am (roughly) 45° on the left and 35° on the right. This one is caused by tight quadriceps which want to pull my leg back before it gets so far back there. (5) When I walk, my left arm swings but my right does not. Nobody knows why but I'm probably compensating for some other motion. All of the above symptoms (save #5) are more pronounced on my right side as compared with the left. Not-so-coincidentally the irritation I get is above the right knee. So where does that leave me? Surprisingly, not in such a bad place. I've been working on all of these issues for the last month except for the big toe (which Stewart liked to call the "major toe"). And Stewart gave me a couple of new exercises to add to my already long list. Todd's Exercise It takes 6-8 weeks to achieve noticeable strength gain so I'll be there before too long. Maybe I'll even be able to rejoin humanity at some point! Considering the bigger picture... if I am having these kinds of problems at 40, what might await me if I make it to 70 or 80? If nothing changed, I'd probably be one of those seniors with very poor balance who eventually falls and breaks a hip. Saying "if nothing changed" is probably unrealistic. I float in and out of physical activities and hobbies regularly. Maybe I would have picked up something else that would have strengthened my butt. The flexibility probably needed some intervention sooner or later though. Aside from the prospect of future injuries, this made me think of fitness a bit more holistically. There's more to being fit than my low BMI and my something of a six pack. With my new set of tools, I will achieve a more complete state of fitness. And as a bonus my Wii Fit age is certain to drop!


  1. That's some report card, Todd. I'd still wear the Crocs in the house, especially with socks and shorts. Keep us posted on your progress toward a more balanced life.

  2. what a long list!
    Enjoy your new exercise Todd! It looks like one in my Pilates course!

  3. Wow, lots of information from a treadmill and cam! But it is really great to know what is going on, to be able to do something about it. Good luck with your exercises!

  4. You guys are seriously cute together. :)

    Bummer about your problems. How many people do you think tried to lift up their big toe when tehy were reading this? {raises hand} Hope it gets better soon!

  5. If I had someone tell me that much info on my stride, toes, etc..I would be very distracted every time I tried to walk / run somewhere..

    I tried the toe thing...I think it was the very first time I've purposefully lifted my big toe. :D

    What is your opinion on the Wii Fit? My husband needs an exercise routine and was considering this...

    The exercise photo is really cool!

  6. The Wii Fit...don't use it very often. Some people probably can get "tricked" into working out with it. But there's really no way to do actual cardio with it comfortably. Overall I'd say it is probably the most useful for people who are pretty out of shape but wouldn't do anything else.

    I think the games in there are pretty fun. They are not really a workout but not sitting on the couch either. The yoga is worthwhile from an exercise point of view. Probably a little more annoying than a yoga DVD would be in terms of use. The strength stuff is ok but not really comprehensive. Cardio is not fun and unnatural. So much easier just to run or bike.

  7. Thanks Todd! I will pass on the info..Randy is currently an injured tennis player and needs something to do to stay in shape. He's also been looking at ellipticals. Running is not an option for him because 1) I don't think he likes it and 2) He's trying to protect his knees.

    Appreciate your help! Have a great weekend!


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