If you haven’t been following along detail for detail, I’ve been having issues with my left knee since the spring. Pain during and after a run. I tried to fix it with sports massage and lots of foam rolling and tennis balling. When that didn’t do the trick, and I ended up limping through the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in July, I finally saw a sports medicine doc – mostly because I was registered for the Chicago Marathon with the American Cancer Society team. I think if I wasn’t registered for the marathon (on a charity team), for the purposes of our budget, I might have just said “forget it … I just won’t run as much.”
Ended up not running the marathon anyway
Regardless, I did go to a sports medicine doc, he basically diagnosed me with “runners knee” and said the culprit was weak glutes, and sent me to physical therapy to strengthen my glutes. After three months of physicial therapy, I worked up to running 3 miles at a time, 3 times a week, and as long as I was keeping up with my PT exercises, I could complete the runs pain-free, but I could tell I wasn’t 100% better in regards to my left knee. I didn’t feel comfortable ramping up my mileage.
On the left: The plan my PT gave me a few months ago. On the right: The plan another PT gave me post-VGA
I knew that my insurance wouldn’t cover a Video Gait Analysis. Anytime a gait analysis was brought up, whoever I was talking to at Athletico would ask about my insurance (Aetna) and tell me that unfortunately they don’t cover it. So if I wanted to get it done, it would cost $150. Knowing that, I debated not doing the VGA. But, I knew my knee issues weren’t totally going away. Was the cost worth the possible health benefit of being able to run more than 10 miles per week?
Considering I’ll spend roughly that same amount on races and shoes, I decided it was worth it, so I went through with the VGA. Athletico schedules it in two appointments, the first is doing the actual running and recording (I was in and out in a half hour and only did about 15 minutes of running on the treadmill), and the second is sitting down with the PT to review the results (took about 45 minutes).
The review was neat, we looked at video of me running, she pointed out her observations, then we looked at video stills of me at certain points in my stride, and the software they use took measurements of certain things. Lots of things. And those measurements clued her in on where my problems were happening.
So, my results. Obviously, this is very specific to me, so if you are dealing with knee pain, do not assume that what the PT recommended for me would solve your problems.
My hips are weak, my right one moreso than my left. Sounds like the weakness on the right means my left side is overcompensating … hence the pain on the left. Solution? Strengthen my hips. Additionally, my hips and calves are also very tight, so I need to work on stretching those out.
My PT suggested 5 specific moves (three to build strength, two to stretch), and also recommended increasing my cadence (by running with a metronome), which should help with my footstrikes and I believe my overall stance/posture while running. She felt that after 6 weeks of all of that, I should see improvement.
So! Another piece of the puzzle. Another clue on the path to pain-free running. So far, I’m really glad I got this done, although I guess we’ll see if over time it leads to improvement.
Have you had a video gait analysis done?