Friday, September 11, 2009

Zen and the art of biomechanics

Or: Why my leg hurts

So even though I scaled back on my running for three weeks because my shin hurt (oh and that whole calf popping thing) I found that it still hurt when I started running again this week.  "Why", I thought.  You would think that it would be at least somewhat better by now.  What could be causing this?

I began to really pay attention to my stride.  By that I mean I walked in slow motion staring down at my leg.  I noticed that my knee was tracking at an angle towards the inside of my stride and then rolling back out to move forward.  "Interesting", I thought, "The left one doesn't do that".  Which is probably why that one doesn't hurt at all.  During some runs I also began to really pay attention to how my foot landed and rebounded to look for clues.  What I noticed was that I was landing in the middle of my foot and rolling inward, in essence pronating, and that the outside of my foot wasn't making any contact at all.  Basically my right foot is overpronating while my left is working just fine.

Personally I blame my high school hurdling career.  You can only bang into so many hurdles or land hard on the track with a fully extended leg before something starts to give.  In my case my leg is a bit out of whack and the fact my foot points off a little to the outside is proof of this.  Symmetrical legs are just so boring.

During my last few runs I have concentrated on keeping my right foot from rolling as much and it seems to be working.  The pain isn't as bad and seems to be holding steady, in fact I feel pretty decent today.  So how did this come about?  I can only assume that it was the change of shoes.  My recently retired pair were Mizuno Inspires while the two pairs before them were both Saucony Omnis.  Maybe the Saucony had a little stiffer control in them and therefore held up better.  I just got a pair of New Balance 769 and they seem to behave a lot like the Mizunos so I will have to keep concentrating on changing my stride.  I guess an option is to move up to motion control shoes but I really don't want to since they tend to be heavier.  Inserts could help but I have yet to find any that haven't made me want to saw my feet off after a few minutes of using them.

At least I have something to focus on and work towards fixing.

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