I love this picture, not just because I'm all dressed up for my graduation ceremony, one of the happiest days of my life, but also because my running form looks bang on point! Form fascinates me. After months (and months) of pulling up one leg after the other, learning to hold my core just so and trying to tame my arms (still not quite there yet), this photo shows me that I'm making progress. For a running nerd that is insanely satisfying!
Until recently I knew that form had some sort of importance, but I didn't really think about it too hard. After all, running is just running. It was only once I started to work towards the ludicrous goal of running all the miles from London to Brighton that how I pulled my legs up and held myself started to take on some importance. You see, good form could make me a more efficient runner and reduce my risk of injury. Oh and make those long runs easier and more fun!
However satisfying it is to see a picture where my form looks good, I'm a nerd and getting solid evidence of improvement means a lot to me, which is why it was ace to be put through my paces by physiotherapist Tom Astley using some very cool technology. DorsaVi is a company that makes wearable sensors, software and sophisticated algorithms that objectively measure and analyse the way we move, generating a tonne of data that gives real, measurable insights. It's fascinating, and a great way to understand more about your body AND work out how to improve your performance.
Meeting Tom outside The Dorchester (there was a festival on in Hyde Park and we decided it was best not to inhale herbal supplements in the lead up to a marathon) I didn't know what to expect, in fact I was a bit surprised to hear we'd be carrying out the assessment outside! I'd had images of treadmills, wires and videos. In fact the ViMove2 tech we were using was simple and non-invasive, just two little bugs stuck to my shins that would analyse my run technique as I jogged around the streets. It makes getting assessed so much simpler - no need to get to a specific clinic, the clinic can come to you. Plus I'm not a treadmill runner, so I found it really reassuring to know that the information reflected my running on the surfaces I run on.
The assessment itself was quick, really quick. Tom asked me all the questions any physio would ask during your first assessment (age, weight, height, history etc.), stuck the bugs on me and then packed me off for a five minute run. Simple. When I got back the bugs came off and within half an hour of our goodbyes Tom had sent me my results by email!
The results are designed to be interpreted by a professional, and talking the insights through with Tom was really interesting. That 5 minute run flagged that on initial acceleration my right leg is really lazy, the left is carrying the whole party! I already knew that my right leg wasn't as on it as my left, it had taken much more work to develop my form in that leg and from time to time it drags when I walk, so it was good to know I wasn't imagining things! It was also interesting to find that, in comparison to normative, my ground force clearance was higher, which correlates with increased power, but not efficiency! This indicates that there might be more force in one side than the other - seeing the picture that coming together here? So, some things to work at, but I know what they are and can work on them! As they say, knowledge is power!
* Thanks so much to Tom and the team at DorsaVi for inviting me along to try out this cool tech. All opinions my own.
**images: Anna Rachel Photography