What can I expect at a Running Assessment?

Many runners pick up injuries because they are compensating for weaknesses while running and then they eventually start to hurt, persist through pain and even break down.

We believe prevention is better than cure. While it is impossible to completely ensure running injuries are prevented, it is possible to reduce the risk of injury.

At the pain and performance clinic we have developed a runners assessment to pinpoint weaknesses. This assessment is not based on our opinion, but instead, on the most recent evidence around injury prevention and athletic performance.

From this assessment, we are able to then provide a bespoke exercise plan that will help to reduce the risk of picking up an injury while running and also improve your running performance.

What is does the runner’s assessment look at?

The runner’s assessment will look at 4 things:
  1. The strength of each muscle of the lower limbs individually.
  2. A runner’s ability to perform plyometric exercise
  3. Your running technique on a treadmill analysis
  4. Your current training plan.

There are 5 elements to the strength portion of our runner’s assessment. Firstly, calf strength is tested. The calf muscle and the muscles of the lower leg are the powerhouses of your run. It is important to have adequate strength and endurance in the calf for runners of all levels.

The quads are tested in two different ways. One is in a test that also assesses your lateral hip strength, your lumbopelvic control, and your ankle mobility. The other way the quad is tested is unilateral. i.e. one side at a time. Running is a single leg activity so we need to know how the legs function independently of each other.

Next, we will look at your posterior chain strength and endurance with the fourth element of the runner’s assessment. The posterior chain is the muscles at the back of your leg. These are important for propelling you forward and for control at the hips during your run.

Finally, in the strength part, we will look at lateral hip control. Pain on the outside of the hip is common in runners and often mistreated. Click here for our top 5 mistakes in treating lateral hip pain. Lateral hip control is important for keeping balanced throughout your run. It can help prevent overuse issues at the knees, prevent ankle sprains and reduce the chances of developing IT band syndrome.

Plyometric Ability

Not only is running a single leg activity it is also a plyometric exercise. Plyometrics are often seen as being complex and hard to train.

Most people think they need gym equipment to do exercises like box jumps or drop jumps in order to get better at plyometrics. Or, they may be afraid they need a coach to oversee their plyometric training. But, there are two simple ways to train your plyometric strength.

We use a simple test to assess your plyometric ability too. Both of these tests not only look at your strength/endurance polymetrically but also assesses your ability to keep to a specific tempo. Staying to specific tempos has been linked to a runner’s cadence during a run.

Cadence is actually a musical term for rhythmic sequence or flow. This is the same with the cadence of your runs. Runners with the ability to run at and maintain a higher cadence run more smoothly. Runners with a lower cadence tend to be more susceptible to picking up niggles and injuries. Lower cadence can be a big factor in getting shin splints.

Treadmill Assessment.

During our assessment, we also look at your run on a treadmill. We are all experienced physios but also avid runner’s at the clinic. We are well used to assessing the way people run and walk. Sometimes small adjustments can reduce pain or prevent you from picking up niggles or injuries.

By assessing your running style we can advise you on any necessary changes. These changes will be with the hopes of reducing your chances of injury. But, they may also help to improve your running performance and running economy. The improved running economy can help reduce fatigue after runs and improve recovery.

Training Plan Assessment

Three of the biggest mistakes with running are around your running plan.

  1. You have no plan at all,
  2. You are too rigid within your plan and don’t listen to your body, or,
  3. Your running plan doesn’t fit to your strength training schedule.

Not having a plan can lead to overloading yourself a few weeks in a row. A big jump in running volume can lead to injuries. No plan can also mean upping the pace or distance too much too soon. In any plan, you should only increase your volume by 10% from week to week.

E.g. if in week one you run 5km Tuesday, 5k Thursday, and 10km Saturday. That is 20km total. Then the next week if you want to increase your distance you should only increase your total distance by 2km. e.g. do 6km Tuesday, 6km Thursday, and 10km Saturday. Too often we’ll see people add a few km to the Saturday run as well. You may get away with this one week but it could come back to haunt you too.

The other issue of being too rigid in your plan is almost as risky. If your plan says to run 10km on Saturday but you have a head cold or your calf is a bit achy then listen to your body. Most athletes who report a minor niggle, if not addressed, end up with an injury within the next 7-14 days.

Finally, strength training can reduce the quality of your runs if no planned properly. If you do legs in the gym Monday, then a spin class Tuesday, and then try a run on Wednesday this may seem doable for a while but eventually, it’ll take its toll. We can help to streamline your plan and give advice on how to make sure you are not running fatigued. Muscle tears happen far more often under fatigue and at speed.

If you want to read about more running mistakes to avoid then click here.

Who is our runner’s assessment useful for?

The runner’s assessment is suitable for all levels of runners. If you want to get into running and want to feel safe and confident in doing so then getting an assessment before you start is a great idea.

Similarly, if you have been running 5ks or 10ks for a while and want to try to do a marathon or half marathon this assessment can help you reduce the chances of injury during one of these longer training blocks.

Also, if you have been running for a long time and don’t belong to a club but want to get faster this assessment can help you spot the weak points in your strength, your running, or even your plan and help to push you onto another level.

Why should I do runner’s assessment?

The runner’s assessment is designed to be completely individualized. The outcomes of your assessment will be different from your friends. You should do a runner’s assessment to ensure you can keep running pain-free. Not only pain-free but injury-free. The assessment will help to improve your performance too. It will do that by working on your strength deficits and also by reducing the time you spend injured. Time spent injured is time spent not training. Time spent injured is time spent not improving or even disimproving.

How long will the runner’s assessment take?

The runner’s assessment will take 45 minutes. In this time we will look at objective strength measures. Observe you running. Assess your training plan and give you a plan going forward. This plan will include what’s appropriate for you.

If you need some exercises to do as a strength session or as part of your warm we will teach you how to do them and send you videos of them on your phone in case you need to review the videos at home as a reminder.

These videos will not be generic pre-recorded videos that everyone gets. We pride ourselves on tailoring each session to your needs. Therefore, we record you doing the exercises. We talk over the video to remind you of the key points for each exercise. We then send this directly to you. Any tweaks to exercises will then be individualized to you.

How much does the runner’s assessment cost?

The runner’s assessment is €95. Contact us if more than 1 of you would like to do the assessment. We can facilitate 2-4 people at a time. This may take longer than 45mins but you will be able to receive a group rate.

What will I get from a runner’s assessment?

At the end of your runner’s assessment, you will get different things based on what we have found. You will get a bespoke exercise plan based on your deficits. This plan will be tailored to your routine.

If you have time to do one or two strength sessions during the week that’s great but we know a lot of runners just want to get out and run. If strength training isn’t your thing or if you don’t have the time then we will fit in your strength exercises as part of a warm-up or cool down.

On top of your bespoke exercise plan, we will also provide you with a training plan and advice on running techniques if necessary.

If you have any questions about our running assessment you can contact us via email, by phone, through any of our social channels, or by booking in online with us.

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Tommy Brennan

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