Case Study: Fix The Cause, Not The Symptom

Improving core and ankle function proved to be the winning ticket

I recently worked with someone who is training for the Boston Marathon, but was sidelined due to knee pain. We met for 2 (TWO) sessions and she’s back to full-on training!

She was throwing the kitchen sink at it, hopeful something would help: stretching, foam rolling, strength training, ice, cross training, rest, rubbing it with holy water and even rain dancing (their words!). Unfortunately, nothing was working and the race date ain’t changing.

Despair was setting in. And if you think I’m being dramatic, either you’re not a runner or have never had an injury before a meaningful competition!

Movement Screening (SFMA®) showed difficulty with extension, rotation as well as single leg stance on the painful leg. Why would those movements be restricted? Frequently due to previous injury/experience, the brain will deem it ‘unsafe’ to perform them.

Using the NeuroKinetic Therapy® protocol, I started by assessing her core and found that some of her deep spinal stabilizers weren’t functional (meaning, she couldn’t detect and easily match my pressure during manual muscle testing) and that her diaphragm and a pair of sacral ligaments were compensating.

Photo credit: Victah Sailer@PhotoRun

She was always strong, but after showing her exactly where to release and activate, she now had a more functional core.  This is crucial if you expect your limbs to move well! Now her knee had a chance.

Next, and this is something I’m finding A LOT, I found she had a compressed right ankle – a compensation likely created due to a previous ankle sprain. This was creating ‘knock-on’ weakness / lack of function up the kinetic chain any time she loaded her leg. Um, if you’re running, loading your leg happens every step!

We addressed ankle ligament and muscular compensations to clear the compression issue and then re-educated her how to load/pronate her foot properly using a drill like the one shown below.

Injured runner = motivated client. She did her homework as assigned (twice per day) and noticed improvement nearly immediately!

For a functional assessment of your own, please contact me here.

*Obligatory disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional and I don’t treat pain. She previously had red flags ruled out by her health care provider. I observed movements that were NOT painful, but which didn’t function well and helped her work on those.

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