Paul Kilbank contacted me about 5 weeks ago after perusing my website. He was searching for a barefoot running coach who stressed “injury-free techniques for runners”. He was suffering through knee, hip and quadriceps pain brought on, he felt, by improper running technique. The injuries started to appear as Paul was ramping up his weekly kilometres, hoping to break 2:00 hours for the Ottawa 1/2 Marathon on May 28. Obviously, with his injuries, running in Ottawa did not transpire. His ultimate goal is the February, 2019 Tokyo marathon.
When we first met at Form & Function Training Centre in mid May, Paul presented with TERRIBLE running technique. He hit the ground hard with knees locked out and heels striking first on impact. To further complicate things, he was over-rotating from the shoulders, dropping his left hip and splaying his feet out duck-like pre-impact. In other words, he was a myriad of injuries waiting to happen.When I tested him running on the spot with eyes closed for 60 seconds, he started between the pylons and finished by going forward 6 metres AND veering strong left. This showed significant rotational activity on the left side which in turn indicated poor activation in the left gluteal and hip muscles.It also indicates major asymmetry which was confirmed when I tested Paul for leg length discrepancy. Sure enough, his left leg showed shorter than his right, thus explaining his right knee pain and left quadricep and hip pain. I worked diligently for about 10 minutes unlocking his left side from the lower back through the groin, hip and abductor muscles. I also took him through my staple (as in STAPLETON! :-)) ) of unlocking drills to ensure that Paul was aligned and ready to work on my Squat-Scoot technique of safe, barefoot running.The end result was perfect body symmetry that then allowed me to guide Paul through IT-Band tendon protection (with a tension band) and eyes open – eyes closed balancing drills on the Bosu Ball. These are designed to help Paul keep centered over the feet with each running stride.With the key components of my Safe, Efficient and Injury-free running technique now in place, it was time to have Paul run barefoot indoors and outdoors. My goal was to have him running on different surfaces PAIN-FREE.You can see from the photos above, Paul was landing light, compact, forward on the mid-foot, flicking with his heels, driving forward from the knees and staying perfectly squared up and balanced from the head and neck to the shoulders, hips and knees.
Once in his ‘coffins’ (rather thick, stiff running shoes which he will be replacing with the Xero Prios sooner rather than later), even with the Barefoot-Science inserts in place, Paul had trouble holding the same locked in technique. He started off in perfect form (see the first photo below) but quickly lost his gluteal bracing ability and his feet started to flail outward (photo #2 below)
He will get better at the Squat-Scoot technique with perfect practice in his ‘coffins’. However, he is already up to 1.5 kilometres running barefoot along with 15 kilometres shod…PAIN-FREE! This is a major break-through for Paul…and the reason he hired me in the first place. Who knows? He MAY get so good running barefoot that he won’t go back to ANY form of footwear!!
The old coach can only hope…!!