I received a free analysis from IdealRun in exchange for this post. All opinions, as always, are my own. Thanks for your support of My Healthyish Life!
I had just received the news that my MRI showed a metatarsal stress fracture when my orthopedic said to me, “when you are ready to run again, you need to work on your form. Maybe get it analyzed.”
*Cue the frustration, disappointment and venting to my mom.
Me? Work on my form? What is there to improve?
In all seriousness, I was surprised. I had been running for eight years without injury and never changed anything about my form. Why would I be injured now? <– That statement in itself if evidence that I needed a wakeup call.
Any athlete, professional or recreational, knows that injuries can happen at any time. Even if you follow the 10% rule, stretch and strength train, repeated wear and tear adds up and causes stress on the joints and muscles. Then to add mechanical issues, freak accidents and overtraining, it can be a full-time job to stay healthy.
I want running to be a lifetime sport, not a short-lived hobby from my youth. Therefore, any steps I can take (literally and figuratively) to stay healthy and correct imbalances are very important to me. Enter: IdealRun.
It’s a random story how I learned about IdealRun…I was watching the local news in Tampa in early February as the city was gearing up for a local race weekend (a half, 15k, 8k and 5k). One of the news anchors in Tampa did an interview with IdealRun and its founder, Dr. Eric Schweitzer. The concept intrigued me: gait analysis from the comfort of your own home (well, your own treadmill). No need to visit a doctor in person, just send in a few videos and you’ll receive a detailed analysis and suggestions for form improvement. It had been in my mind to get a gait analysis since my stress fracture so the timing was perfect. Plus, injured or not, it’s always a good idea to tune up running form.
The following is my experience using IdealRun. See below for a discount code for your own gait analysis!
Step 1: Fill out online questionnaire
Simple questions about your history as a runner including injuries, goals, preferred distances, shoes and mileage per week.
Step 2: Take and upload videos
You will be asked to take seven short videos from different angles. Three will be of you running on the treadmill, two will be of you doing squats and two will be of you performing a lateral step down. (There are detailed instructions on the customer portal for how to shoot and what to focus on). I had my mom take the videos in our gym. They ask you to wear a sports bra (or no shirt for men) and tight shorts so they can see your hips, arms and legs.
Step 3: Receive assessment from Dr. Schweitzer
Within 3-5 business days you will have a “running analysis” on your dashboard with feedback from Dr. Schweitzer. You will see snapshots of your videos with arrows pointing out alignment and range of motion. He will detail what the correct alignment/posture should be compared to yours and recommend exercises to correct the problem.
Here’s a look at some of my feedback:
Step 4: Complete recommended exercises
A pretty simple but very important step. If you want to improve and stay healthy in the long run, you (I) need to put in the work. Dr. Schweitzer recommended wall squats (facing the wall) and lateral step down for me.
After completing the exercises recommended for more than two weeks, here are my thoughts:
-Dr. Schweitzer pointed out a few things I had never realized about my running form: my arm swing and “bouncing.” I knew about my hip drop and poor alignment on single-leg exercises, but now I have more to think about. I’ve been consciously working on pointing my elbows directly back when I run and not letting them flare out to the sides. Also, he recommended trying to “keep the horizon as still as possible,” meaning don’t bounce while running.
-I loved the personalized feedback and suggestions for (safely) reaching my goals. I said I would like to work on speed and he recommended counting my foot strike to calculate strides per minute. Then, I should increase 5 steps per minute every month (a very gradual increase).
-I do wish there was a follow-up so I could re-submit videos to check on any progress. I did suggest they include that in the future.
-It is so incredibly important to strengthen the muscles in your glutes, hips and core. Those are my weaker areas and to reduce the risk of future injury I need to stay consistent with strength training.
Overall I’m very pleased with my experience with IdealRun and I plan to continue the exercises, along with consistent stretching, to improve my overall form. If you are interested in having YOUR gait analyzed, IdealRun is offering a $15 discount for readers. Just use the code “HealthyishReaders.” Again, you don’t have to be in the Tampa-area :)
*This is my public declaration so you guys can hold me accountable.*