‘Energy Leaks’ and how they are affecting your run!

Effortless Running With Improved Times And Decreased Risk Of Injury

We often have people coming into our clinics that are not in pain. Instead of waiting to get injured, more and more of our runners are taking the preemptive step of coming to see us to identify if, and where they are experiencing what we call ‘energy leaks‘ in their running stride. What we mean by this term is an inefficiency in movement somewhere during your stride that increases the work required to take the next step, ultimately reducing your running economy. While you may be thinking that this is something only elite runners need to worry about, energy leaks can cause big problems when you consider the amount of steps you take during your 10k, half-marathon, marathon or whatever distance you decide to run. The altered mechanics that result from these inefficiencies is one of the main reasons people come to us with stress fractures, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinopathys and so on!

We love these sessions as much as any, as it is what we are all about at ProSport Physiotherapy Huddersfield. We don’t just want to get you out of pain, we want you leaving our clinic with more awareness and effortless control of every step you take. By addressing these issues before you start your training schedule we don’t just want to help you avoid the problems listed above, we want you to get that PB you deserve for all of your hard work. This blog will hopefully shed a little light on our approach, taking the pelvis and rib-cage relationship we have talked about previously as an example.

The pelvis/ribcage relationship

As we discussed before, there is a complex interplay that occurs between the pelvis and the rib-cage, with the position of one directly influencing the position of the other. In our experience, if you can get these two structures to move properly in relation to one another, the rest of the body will fall into a nice alignment that gives you the dynamic balance and stability you need to run. This puts your body in the best position for your muscle ‘springs’ to load properly and propel you through each phase of gait, ultimately giving you effortless control of your stride.

We find that many runners who come to see us have an anteriorly, or forward tilted pelvis (look at some old race photos and count how many times you have a noticeably arched back!). Now this position in and of itself is not a bad thing, but we find that a lot of our runners can’t actually shift out of this position. The brain then gets used to the body being in this position and starts to lock in the compensation patterns that result – making it even harder to shift out! As your pelvis is now forwards, your rib-cage has to sit higher if you are to remain upright, and if you are to keep your eyes on the horizon as we all strive to do, your head has to come forwards into a forward head posture. Obviously, this is not an ideal position for the body to be in.

Not only does it place more stress on certain joints, but it also puts your muscles in a less than ideal position to fire. Essentially, in this position your hamstrings are taking on the new role of resisting the forward tilt of the pelvis, the diaphragm can’t perform it’s important role as a core stabilizer due to the rib-cage position, and because this intrinsic core stability is now compromised everything else starts to tighten up to give you a form of ‘pseudo-stability’. You’ll be able to function, but it is not necessarily efficient! These muscles are now too busy doing these roles to eccentrically load as they should as part of your ‘spring’ system when you run.

Spring system? What do you mean by that?

In the ‘ideal’ running stride, your foot should pronate as it hits the floor, acting like a sort of shock absorber. This helps certain systems of muscles (and other structures such as fascia) load eccentrically like elastic bands as gravity and momentum drive you forwards. As you then toe off, these muscles should have a type of recoil effect propelling you through to the next heel strike, or forefoot strike depending on your running style. Now, if you do not pronate properly, or you are experiencing energy leaks such as in the position we described above where the muscles have essentially altered their function, this spring effect will not take place. It will take more work on your part to drag each foot through each step and ultimately lead to injury and reduced performance.

Your skeletal alignment and muscle recruitment need to be spot on for effortless stride
Your skeletal alignment and muscle recruitment need to be spot on for effortless stride

How do I fix it?

As always, unfortunately there is no one-size-fits-all fix. Everybody is different. The way you move now is as a result of all of your previous life experiences, from previous injuries to emotional events (a topic for another time!). But for example, in the position we have been talking about all along, some of the things we would need to address are:

  • Improve the function of the hamstrings to pull the pelvis back into a more neutral position
  • Improve breathing pattern, ensuring the rib-cage is moving properly and the diaphragm is working as it should be
  • Check and address any compensatory positional or muscular issues at each hip
  • Make sure you can shift in and out of the position without getting ‘stuck’ (for want of a better word!)
  • Integrate all of the changes in a position that translates directly to running
  • Then give a specific warm up / rehab program that will cement these changes permanently

While it sounds like a lot, this can all be done in one to three sessions in most cases (depending on various factors), and lasting changes can be achieved quickly with a little bit of work on your part! To then really make your stride effortless, after addressing the initial alignment issues we would then work on all of the positions we want you to access during your gait cycle and cement them into your subconscious brain with specific drills. You need to make sure that all of your muscles can work efficiently in 3-dimensions as they will have to in function. This is where you really master your movement!

How can WE help YOU?

Here at ProSport Physiotherapy Huddersfield, this stuff is our bread and butter! Our passionate therapists will help you locate and fix any inefficiency in your running stride PERMANENTLY. This won’t come without work on your part, but if you commit 100% to the program we supply we can guarantee you more control, improved movement, and a more effortless stride that will ultimately lead to the PB you deserve!

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What others have said about us!

  • "Dave is a top class Physiotherapist who has got me back from numerous injuries always weeks earlier than expected. Dave's hands on treatment approach is one of the best I have ever experienced. Highly recommended"

    Paul O'Connell
    Paul O'ConnellMunster Rugby, Ireland and British and Irish Lions
  • “I have seen Dave O’Sullivan on several occasions over the last few years and I have always been 100% satisfied by the work he has done and the exercises and advice he has given. In fact, I am often amazed by the way he can work out what is causing what and how to put it right. Usually only 2 or 3 visits are needed, plus exercises done at home. I completed my first marathon 3 years ago, largely due to his expertise – I could hardly walk a week before race-day. I would definitely recommend Pro Sport Physiotherapy (and have done!)”

  • “Just thought i would drop you a line to let you know how im getting on with the stretches and the core work that you suggested. I have been doing these for around an hour to an hour and a half each day since i saw you, the difference i have found is massive. Its hard to explain how i feel whilst running and cycling now, it just feels like my body is more planted. The cyclo cross is finished now, i done my first fell race today on only six running sessions maybe not the best idea in the world however because of the excersises i have been doing my body felt stronger than it ever has. I have no technique at running downhill and would normally end up with a tight back doing that type of race where as this time no tightness. Thanks for all your help and advice”

    KennyCounty Durham
  • “The first time I saw Dave with chronic back pain I was struggling to walk properly when I went in but I walked out more or less back to normal, and this is a normal result for Dave. The treatments are different to any I’ve experienced but my whole posture, long term injuries and problems continue to improve. Although some of the treatments are not pleasant the pain is well worth it for the results gained. If you need a physio go and see Dave and/or his colleagues.”

  • “A 140-mile round trip to visit Dave is well worth it as he’s restored my confidence to overcome injury, using techniques you will probably not encounter elsewhere. Dave’s manner is excellent, taking time to explain things simply and being available to clarify concerns. Many exercises prescribed are provided by video link with is far superior to the dodgy photocopied exercise sheets traditionally supplied as they ensure you can review and perform your rehab using good technique. In my opinion the ProSport experience is years ahead of the game as it adopts the advances being made in its field whereas regular Yellow Pages clincs stick to dated methods. A big plus is that Dave is also interested in getting you right.”

  • “I’d been struggling for the best part of a year with what I (and my old physio) thought was a damaged hamstring. I’d heard about Pro Sport and read about their Soft Tissue Release Techniques and thought I’d nothing to lose by trying a new approach. Thank goodness I did….. Darragh Sheehy correctly identified I actually had a partially trapped Sciatic nerve and set about “releasing” it…. That’s another way of saying pain…..but it really is “no pain, no gain”. After one session I left feeling considerably better. I ran at the weekend with a huge grin on my face……I was thinking “I’m back!” A few sessions later and following Darragh’s exercise regime I’d improved again and within a few months had a new 5k PB.”

  • “Pro Sport Physiotherapy are amazing! I was having trouble with my hip whilst running over a certain distance. Shane worked out within 15 minutes that a tiny set of muscles near scar tissue was preventing my glute and core from firing. I worked on my exercises for a week and returned to my next appointment to find I was cured. A couple of sessions followed to ease my aching muscles now they were working and I am now fully fit to run my first ever half marathon this autumn. I have recommended the company to anyone who will listen. They are professional, knowledgable, fast workers and friendly. 5 star service with a smile :)”

  • “5 years after breaking my leg and 3 surgeries later, Dave O’Sullivan was recommended to me after I received NHS physio where I was told I was a lost cause! Dave’s work is fantastic, I felt an improvement after the first visit and now feel better than ever. He explains everything, follows up the treatment with easy to follow videos and is a nice guy. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Dave!”

    Lucy Flockton, Wakefield
  • "Pro Sport are professionals who take the greatest pride in their work. Their hands on approach to treatment and rehabilitation has helped me to not only be healthier and a more durable athlete but aided in improving  my athletic performance."

    Jamie Peacock
    Jamie PeacockLeeds Rhinos and England
  • "Top class physiotherapists who I would highly recommend and indeed have recommended to family and friends!"

    Eorl Crabtree
    Eorl CrabtreeHuddersfield Giants and England Rugby League



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