Friday, April 11, 2008

Runner "Heel" Thyself: Can it be done?

The 1975 Falmouth Road Race. I am in the red "singlet". You will recognize the familiar left leg kicking out in each photo through the years.

The 1985 Lakeville Triathlon. The foot isn't twisting out as much but the knee is still knocking in! Who cares though, I won this race!

2004 running in the Newburyport 10 miler. Look familiar?

Same twisting in the 2004 Falmouth Road Race.

Here I am in the Bill Luti 8K in 2007 while running in a pair of Newtons (the only race I did in them) but notice now what that left leg does when it contacts the ground! My race photos have never shown good form. Can Z-Health correct these stride and mechanical imperfections?

Yesterday was my eighth day of running in a row: nothing special there except it means that winter has ended and I can get outside again. It was the best weather in many months yesterday: warm sunshine means running in shorts and short sleeves. It was all great except I was completely unbalanced again. I could not get a stride down in any form of balance: shoulders, hips, knees, ankles, feet, nothing lined up at all and it was a slog to run at all. I finished my workout and did some kettlebell drills outside (much better than in the house- except again I must make the neighbors wonder). After feeling good at the start of the running streak the past few days gradually got worse and worse. There is a tightness around the top of my left femur and everything else is out of whack. I am doing my joint mobility work and it is leaving me feeling great. I have improved my range of motion throughout my body but the left side is stuck!

I have to again consider if there is something about my left side that can't be fixed. I really do wonder at times like this if it is just the way I am created. If I position my left knee pointing forward, the left ankle points correctly, but the foot rotates or splays to the left and tilts up on the inside. If I place my left foot straight on the ground, the left knee is rotated to the inside. If I try to force that knee straight the inside of the foot rotates up. I can't even get that knee into proper alignment with whatever force I use. I still can't tell if it is a knee rotation, or a foot or hip problem. It just won't line up!

Today I decided to take a day off. I tried to stretch out the hip and that didn't work. Then I tried the Z-Health ankle mobility drills. I was trying the lateral tilts, but I was trying different positions: behind the other ankle, lifting up the front of the foot while pressing down on the heel, and other variations I thought up. While doing this I heard a little pop or release. The tightness in the hip went away as well as the imbalanced feelings and tightness or impingement from my back to my arch. Then I felt better again, that quickly. I can't explain it but it worked.

However that does not resolve the alignment issues between the knee and foot. I am considering going to a Z-Health practitioner. I would like someone to tell me if this is something that can or can't change or if it is a structural issue will create problems forever. I have asked the question of many doctors and therapists but have yet to receive an answer. So far the joint mobility makes me feel great if I want to live a sedentary life. One physical therapist said to me that, "I was so created to be a runner and so created not to be a runner." She had been working on my hip problem and was confused as to how to fix it. She did bring in other therapists and studied up and eventually found a hip capsule stretch that remedied the situation for a while (at that point it was so stuck I couldn't run on it).

There have been wonderful improvements while working on my joint mobility drills. However when I add the stresses of distance running to the awkward running alignment on my left side, I think that the irregular stride puts my body through havoc. I am getting better at controlling it and the ankle mobility drill today was an interesting lesson for me.

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