The impact of running

Project: C.H.E.K your health

Even though my trainer Leila Lutz has a name like a pornstar, she is one smart cookie.

Only very recently, I was training with a bunch of rock star women aiming to run Coastrek, a 50-100km trek/run hosted annually by Wild Women on Top. Nothing pornstar about that name then, eh?

I loved training with these girls but, unfortunately, it didn’t take long for problems to arise. First, my right hamstring blew. Then my left calf. Then my left hip. Then my right hamstring again, and again. Then finally my left knee. At that point, supported by the advice of my physio, I pulled out of the long-distance event.

That’s when Leila Lutz, my trainer with a pornstar name, suggested our three month program for rehab and optimal health…

I’ve now had two full body C.H.E.K assessments with Leila. One pre-running in June 2011… and one post-running (up to 25km per running session) in January 2012.

The difference in the results, according to Leila, is: “red flag alarming”.

You see, a healthy spine has a lovely S bend shape to it. The S bend is designed to dissipate load when you run so that the vertebrae don’t just jam directly down on top of one another.

“The degrees at the thoracic spine (upper) and lumbar spine (lower) should both be around the 35 degree mark,” says Leila. “The straighter the spine (ie the lower the reading from 35 at each point), the more load is impacted through the spine… which can lead to degeneration and compression.

“The curvier the spine (ie the higher the reading from 35 degrees at each point), the more likely sheer force injuries such as spondylilisthesis can occur, where the facet joints break away from the vertebra above.”

Here are my before and after readings…

Thoracic spine

Before: 35 degrees

After: decreased in curve to 34 degrees

Leila says: “This is not a huge red flag, but I am looking at where other parts of the spine has changed to alter this curve exactly.”

Lumbar spine 

Before: a healthy 38 degrees

After: 22 degrees. Whoa!

Leila says: “In only six months, this enormous change is a big red flag highlighting the need to look at your exercise and lifestyle habits that are encouraging this change.”

Pelvic tilt

Normal: for females is 7-10 degrees

Before: In June 2011, my left side had only 5 degrees tilt, my right was 8 degrees. What does this mean? A slight twist in the pelvis was apparent.

After: My pelvis now has 2 degrees tilt on the left and 0 on the right. Double whoa!

Leila says: “Your hamstring is attached into the back of the pelvis so if it is tight, it will pull the pelvis posteriorly or into a position of decreased tilt. The tightness in your right hamstring causing you pain has pulled your pelvis back to 0 degrees. The pulling of your pelvis in this direction has also decreased your lumbar curve, putting load on the spine.

“This is great for you to see what the hamstring injury is doing to the rest of your body. Had you kept up the running, this little problem would have begat another problem… a back injury! This is a very simplified version of what’s going on. The hamstring is supposed to work with other muscles, so its not entirely to blame, but rather just one way to look at it for now.

Next post: food with Jo Rushton

LeeThe impact of running

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