Vancouver BC Canada - In-Person Running Biomechanics Review - Couch to the Summit Performance Coaching
Couch to the Summit Performance Coaching offers in-person biomechanics review for Vancouver based athletes to help become more functional and increase performance and athletic longevity
Most athletes don’t know how much their biomechanics and myofascial quality are slowing them down and holding back their endurance potential. For example, one of the most common issues I see in runners is what is known as "duck feet" where the toes turn outward. When a runner has duck feet, it can lead to a loss of power during push off. This is because the foot turns outward at impact, causing excessive pronation, which affects the ability to achieve rigidity at push off. This results in a loss of stability and force transmission, similar to pushing off in loose sand. In contrast, a rigid lever at push off allows for force to transmit efficiently through the chain of the hip and knee, maximizing power output. Therefore, a toed out gait causes energy leakage and results in a loss of power through a flexible foot.
Another common issue in runners is knee pain, and especially a problem for runners trying to run trails in the mountains. Many people think downhill running is bad for the knees, but it only is when your biomechanics are poor. Our knee joint has the potential to last two lifetimes - don't let anyone tell you you can't run due to bad knees. Joint problems occur due to myofascial problems in between joints. For runners instability in the hip and poor leg strength and mobility is the contributing cause. It can be improved over time.
My focus as a coach is developing athletes to be highly functional not just fast in terms of speed. When I use the term functional, I’m referring to 12 distinct and separate attributes of athleticism that you should be working to develop simultaneously. They are:
- Strength (Concentric)
- Mobility (Active/Neurological)
- Flexibility (Dynamic/Static/Passive)
- Release (Myofascial Tension)
- Symmetry (Imbalance correction)
- Stability (Isometric, Core and Balance)
- Skill (Agility/Coordination/Technique)
- Reverse (Posterior chain)
- Impact (Plyometric/Eccentric)
- Growth (Nutrition/Progression/Recovery)
While you may be tempted to place more priority on some of these components in your regular training regimen, the truth is that none are more important than another. They are all equally important. If you are at a low standard in any capacity then you are hampering your potential to varying degrees.
To improve an athlete's capacity in all 12 of these areas I have developed a system called the FAST-Protocols. FAST in this sense stands for Functional Athleticism Standard Training Protocols. It’s a good acronym because the stronger functionality you have as an athlete, the faster you will develop in whatever health or fitness capacity you are focused on. Fast doesn’t just equate to running speed, but it equates to faster progress and results.
Sports like trail running involve functional movements that require coordination of multiple muscle groups. The functional protocols I’ve established help to build strength and coordination in your muscles while also exercising your nervous system to better prepare your body for everyday movements. It’s all about feeling great and having more confidence in your physical capabilities.
My FAST-Protocols are designed to increase performance but also to mitigate and reverse many of the decaying attributes of aging and keep you active well into old-age as well.
I have been working on the FAST-Protocols for a long time now, and I have designed them to bring together the vast amount of information and potential training practices that are required to build the strongest overall foundation for endurance, strength, functionality and fitness and are aimed at giving you clear pathways to test and develop your capacities towards intermediate, elite, and world class standards should you so choose.
It can take many years to progress through the standards to reach the elite and world-class levels – but at least with the protocols I have, you’ll know what you need to do to get there if you so desire it! You may not have the will or ability to get all the way to the world class level, but there are multiple levels and just progressing to the next level up should always be a goal to work toward. For most athletes we’ll be working to attain at least the Intermediate standard in every capacity, but most athletes will need to begin and spend a lot of time at the beginner levels. I am not even anywhere near the top standards in many of these protocols myself and it’s something I continually work towards!
To be bluntly honest, I deeply and truly wish I had been working on these protocols 10-15 years ago - because it would have personally saved me a lot of turmoil and downtime in my athletic career. I have great insight into the area of biomechanics because I've been forced into this world to improve my own resiliency as an athlete due to facing almost every injury you can imagine. Many long-term ones too. You can read more about my journey here. Even as little as two years ago, I thought I had my body humming along but little did I know my body was still compensating and it all came crashing down as I began to progress to high speed ultra-endurance events and challenges that went over the 10 hour mark and beyond. I still had more work to do and I've spent most of 2021, 2022 and now 2023 improving my knowledge and experience in this area to get myself functionally healthy again.
Most concerning to me as a coach, is that in almost every coaching athlete I review, I see the same early warning signs in them that I ignored in myself - and these problems are entrenched from years of compensation patterns, injury guarding, poor posture and from just sitting a lot. I don't want to see other athletes go through the same problems I faced. The most common problems are hip instability and knee collapse, along with foot turn out. Just imagine the shearing forces and impact loads when you multiply each foot landing thousands of times per run over the course of years. It's little wonder trail running has a massive attrition rate. To detect these issues, I have developed a series of tests I run through, which also clearly show the athlete in the moment where they are lacking. I then educate the athlete on what can go wrong if the athlete continues on and increases training loads with these issues. At this point, its easier to get an athlete to commit to improving these issues and stop putting biomechanics maintainence off. We are all guilty of it - and often we just don't know what to do.
To streamline this process, I found that its easy to become quickly overwhelmed by all this and you can easily put off working on these areas becauses its sometimes not "sexy" training and we'd probably all rather be out in the mountains running around. I get it. However, a little consistency and a few minutes each day can really add up. The protocols are designed to test and track your progression and I have a platform built to manage the logistics. All you have to do is turn up for between 5-30 minutes per day and execute what is asked. No hard thinking required.
THE IN-PERSON BIOMECHANICS REVIEW
I've been conducting in-person biomechanic reviews with my coaching athletes in 2022 and 2023 and I'm quickly able to spot the problem areas that can lead to major issues in the future as an athlete increases their training loads. You don't have to be a coaching client to take advantage of this service.
Early detection is crucial to avoid serious injuries such as tendon, ligament and joint damage that can sideline an athlete for years. Furthermore, more biomechanical resiliency doesn't only present an injury risk, but is also an enormous performance improver.
Let’s face it, the trails in Vancouver are highly technical and the impact loading on athletes is extreme. Athletes should be focused weekly on improving their functional athleticism for longevity in the sport, to stay injury free and unlock maximum power and performance.
I film you walking uphill, running slow and running fast on the treadmill using a camera at 240 frames per second allowing me to slow down the footage to 12.5% of normal speed to review all aspects of your running gait.
I look at all aspects of your running gait looking for any issues that you may be experiencing:
- Contact phase: This is the phase where the foot strikes the ground, also known as the "foot strike."
- Midstance phase: This is the phase where the body's weight is over the stance leg, which is the leg that is in contact with the ground.
- Propulsion phase: This is the phase where the body's weight is shifted onto the contralateral leg and the hip, knee and ankle extend to push off the ground to create propulsion.
- Aerial phase: This is the phase where the foot leaves the ground and both feet are off the ground, also known as "flight" phase.
- Swing phase: This is the phase where the trailing leg swings forward, preparing for the next foot strike.
- Recovery phase: This is the phase where the foot is pulled up towards the body in preparation for the next contact with the ground.
I then put you through a series of balance, strength, mobility and flexibility tests to understand how your body is moving and also stabilising. Most athletes have some degree of hip instability and weakness and these tests are designed to uncover any of these problems.
I also provide some brief tutorials on soft tissue release, demonstrate the use of tools that you can use to improve your biomechanics development, and also run you through some key strength exercises that you can start working on straight away at home
Following the session I provide you with a link to the video of you running on the treadmill and a detailed run down of my report from the session. Part of the report will reveal the areas where you need to improve and you will then be sent documents outlining the protocols to follow for any of your issues. The protocols explain the problem you have, the muscles involved and instructions on how to improve the condition including mobility, strength exercises to perform with progressions for beginner, intermediate, elite and world class levels.
Location: 1365 Davie Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Duration: 2 hours
*Price: CAD $300 + Tax (* Free for Couch to the Summit Performance Coaching athletes)
FAST Protocol Platform (to manage your progression): Monthly fee (Platform Currently in development - Fee To be determined).
Developing greater health and endurance doesn't have to be a painful pursuit. What works is finding your fitness passion. For many people they don’t know what that is, but find it once they start moving their body in nature. Sadly, most people never tap into the large reservoir of their fitness potential.
This article describes our coaching process and your roles and responsibilities as a coaching athlete
My name is James Stewart. I'm an Australian born 43-year-old ultra-endurance and vertical focused trail running athlete living in Vancouver Canada. I’m also an experienced adventurer, health and fitness advocate, adventure photographer/film-maker and performance coach!
Here is how to contact and sign up with Couch to the Summit Performance Coaching. I am currently accepting new athletes!
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