As I got settled into running on my post-surgery knee, I began to realize that my gait had changed dramatically. I passed through the Inspector Gadget phase (explanation) and the pronounced limp phase and then into a strange new place. I knew my gait wasn’t what it used to be, or should be, but I didn’t have a plan about how to fix it. Physical therapy was primarily about activities of daily living. Since I could walk to my mailbox, get in my car, and shower without help, they were satisfied with my recovery. I wasn’t. I wanted to be returned to my pre-surgery state, or at least a state that didn’t involve worrying about my gadget knee and its influence on the rest of my body. Then, like a miracle, I won a gift basket from my local running store that included a certificate for Dartfish Video Gait Analysis. I couldn’t schedule my analysis fast enough.
I met with the Dartfish Guy (DG since I didn’t ask him if I could use his real name) for a consultation and recording session. He inquired about my running and sport history, every injury I’d ever had, and my typical running week. He asked about any concerns and we talked at length about my surgery and my history in PT. Then DG began the recording phase of the analysis. I ran on the treadmill for about 20 minutes while he recorded my stride from every possible angle. As soon as I was done running, DG asked me if I wanted to see the recording because he had noticed something about my stride that was so bad that it didn’t require slow motion replay or still shots to see. Yikes. I knew my stride was bad, but not that bad. I watched the video of me running that was shot from behind me. It was horrifying. My right hip (the surgery side) is so weak that I had a noticeable 80′s thug lean. DG didn’t seem bothered by this. I wasn’t so optimistic, but DG assured me he would develop a plan to fix my gadget knee.
After about a week, I met with DG to go over the results of my gait analysis. I got to see a lovely still pictures and slow motion replays of all my gait maladies, particularly my hip lean.
See the little red line? That’s the line of my hips. It should be flat. My line was decidedly not flat. Not good.
Yep. It’s pretty saggy. Turns out that the childhood song is right – the knee bone’s connected to the hip bone. This is what happens when you have major knee surgery and aren’t allowed to rotate your leg for 4 months. My right hip is unstable and weak. When I have my full weight on my right leg, my hip isn’t strong enough to support the weight, so it drops, shifting my weight off to the side. My poor gadget knee, in an effort to control the side-to-side motion, shifts laterally. All bad things.
Not to be outdone by my right hip, my right knee has its own contribution to the mess that is my gait.
As you can see, I hit the ground with my right leg basically straight, resulting in a peg-leg like motion. Also not good.
That was the bad news. There was some good news. According to DG, my stride is “powerful” and very even on the left side. I don’t pronate or supinate or shift through my feet. I’m flexible and well-balanced. I have the ideal leg flexion and extension on my left side. Generally, everything was just right on the left side, making the right side all the more pronounced. DG had prepared a list of exercises to work on my right hip. They are ridiculously hard and exactly what I need. I can go on forever doing the exercises with good form on my left side. On the right I can barely make it through two pathetically wiggly reps.
I met with DG a second time about a month after the feedback session. He’s given me more exercises that I struggle to do. They’re perfect for me and, given how sore/tired my hip has been for weeks, seem to be working. All in all, the Dartfish Video Gait Analysis was one of the best things I’ve done for myself and for my running. I finally feel like I’m making progress and have found in DG someone who understands my struggle and has a plan. He’s optimistic and funny and I am so hopeful that following his plan will be just the thing I need to transform my gadget knee into a real, working knee.