Mike’s view on Therapy Expo 2016

Last week, I attended the Therapy Expo conference in Birmingham. Great conference and exhibition, well done to the organisers. I was invited to  deliver some presentations –  one on Movement Re-patterning for Rehabilitation and Performance and of the other 2 were “live biomechanical analysis” demonstrations on two brave volunteers who wanted to get their running analysed in front of hundreds of people!

 During the presentations, there was a chance for the audience to ask some questions. It was interesting the type of questions I got asked after the live analysis. Some were very good, some were very clever and some very probing questions. I got the usual questions such as ‘How do you train stride frequency?’ or, ‘how long does it take to correct running technique?( which is the most common question I get asked), followed by “can you show me how you change running technique?

 However, what really surprised me was, that when it comes to a biomechanical analysis, how many people think that it’s the software that does the work. One of the main questions that I did get was ‘what sort of software are you using and how can it analyse the information for you?’.

 Now, let’s just clarify one thing: The analysis software doesn’t do the biomechanical analysis for you. No flashy lights and lines or graphs can identify what the issues are!

 It’s all about understanding movement efficiency in walking and in running, and having the experience to know what it is you are looking for.  If you do not know what you are looking for, no brilliant software, however expensive, however intricate, will help you to analyse an individual’s biomechanics. The same applies for changing movement patterns. We must not forget that we need to understand movement to be able to change movement.  Analysing someone’s running technique is simple! The clever part is what comes after: Changing the running technique to make someone more efficient!

 It’s very interesting how many organisations are now offering Running Technique Analysis from small physiotherapy practices to major multi-disciplinary clinics and from medical centres to universities.

One of the issues is that some of these organisations have little idea on how to re-educate running technique to improve efficiency and increase speed! They can produce complex graphs and figures and have a “stock” explanation on why someone is running inefficiently and getting injured. But when it comes to the solution, they come up with the same answers:

  1. It’s your core you’re not strong enough
  2. Its your glutes they are not working ( everyone’s favourite)
  3. You have the wrong stride frequency you need to increase it
  4. It’s the shoes, they are not the right ones
  5. You need to do more strength/Olympic lifting
  6. You need orthotics
  7. You need to do more stretching/flexibility

 When I think back to how I started analysing running technique 25 years ago with a camera and a cassette video recorder and a television, I am so impressed with how new technology can help us help more people and it’s getting better!

One thing that hasn’t changed is how the body learns and how the body moves and how we can change movement. Our understanding on how this happens has been enhanced. But for us to change our running technique – to run better ,more efficiently and faster-  we need to change our movement patterns and stimulate the nervous system and the muscular system together.

 This means that to change running technique, theoretical information and tips will not do the trick. The body needs to learn movement through movement – mostly while running but also through other re-patterning exercises.

 Running technique is simple to change but it’s not easy to change! It is also very individual . Although the generic changes to the way the legs move and the arms move is the same for most people, there are a number of individual changes that need to be applied . This is because we are all different and our movement patterns are developed from the way we move, the way we compensate, the way we train, previous injury and pain

 We have carried out  over 25,000 biomechanical and movement analyses since we started out – on recreational runners, elite athletes, non athletes , kids , people after injury surgery  or stroke. The one thing that  comes out loud and clear every time is: EVERYONE MOVES DIFFERENTLY!

Patrick Dennien’s Story


Here at the Running School, we get clients from all different backgrounds, with all different stories. Some stories are worth sharing. Paddy Dennian has one of those stories.

Paddy came to see one of our coaches, Joe Best, in the City Centre after a motorbike accident which resulted in him rupturing his posterior cruciate ligament (PCL). This was after suffering from 3 anterior cruciate ligament ruptures to his right knee.

Paddy decided to use the Running School for prehab in preparation for his PCL surgery. Paddy recalled this as an invaluable stage in his recovery, stating, ‘it got my leg as strong as possible ahead of surgery and the subsequent wastage that followed.’

After the surgery, Paddy conducted a 10 session program that helped him rebuild strength and mobility in his joints. However, with another bout of surgery coming up for his ACL, there was also preparation for another period of weakness on the knee.

After the surgery, Paddy realised how crucial his time with the Running School was. ‘The swelling and stiffness was markedly reduced from previous operations. My progress through the recovery milestones felt accelerated and I was able to move into more advanced rehab quicker than before.’

‘My sessions with Joe have been challenging and progressive. They have given me the confidence to push the joint within a safe and structured environment, so I can better know the limitations and rebuild the trust in my knee. Every stage has been well explained and carefully monitored with regular checking of progress, pain, comfort and confidence.

The dynamic nature of the exercises with The Running School has given me confidence that I am facilitating future injury prevention as much as current recovery.’

Paddy continues to have sessions with Joe, ensuring that his progress during his recovery continues. Paddy’s reasoning for this is: ‘Having conducted similar rehab twice before, the benefits of a prehab program was immediately evident post-operation. Joe and the team are knowledgeable, experienced, friendly and professional. Sessions are varied and progressive so you can clearly see the progress you’ve made and where you need to target.’

If you, or anyone you know, would be interested in a rehab programme after injury, do not hesitate to call The Running School on 02087436047, or emailing run@runningschool.co.uk or dan@runningschool.co.uk for more information.