Monthly Archives: December 2011

Learn to Run with AAA – “A more effective and quieter run, with much less energy wastage”.

With a few duathlons and road runs under my belt, I am inspired to step up the training and start planning 2012 competions.

However, after doing  a period of faster runs, I found I was having calf and back pain. Quite frustrating when you really want to do something and your creaky old body is letting you down.

I hadn’t previously given much thought to my running technique, but after seeking some physio treatment from John, I was shown that my weakness in core strength and incorrect arm swinging was causing my pelvis to rotate, my hip to drop, putting a considerable stress on my back.

Diagram showing hip drop
Hip drop - a very common and fixable running problem!

I found John’s running workshop a fantastic learning curve. The exercises were so effective and the results were seen and felt straight away.  A more effective and quieter run, with much less energy wastage. The techniques may  take some practicing before they become as natural to me as my old bad habits  were, but I’m on the case!

John is extremely knowledgeable and makes thing easy to understand , with clear explanations on how and why things work/ don’t work.

I would definitely recommend “Learning to Run with AAA”.(From

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if you prefer the personal touch!


Wk.3 – The Kneed for Speed – A minor setback

John kicked off last week’s physio session by carrying out his strength tests on my legs. Encouragingly, my left leg showed noticeable improvement, although “wrapping” my left leg over the end of the table still resulted in my foot contorting slightly. Still, hopefully progress has been made there. John then assessed my back again and found I was still tight in certain spots, prompting him to perform some more of his “black magic” on my lower back and also my upper back this time.

Following on from this we continued to work on my running technique, with John advising me to put more weight over the balls of my feet (imagine peering over the edge of a cliff). I left the session with a plan of spending more time on the treadmill to work on my running technique.

The following morning, I hit the gym and did my treadmill work. Feeling particularly positive and energetic, I also did some fairly intense cycling (up to level 14) and rowing. Unfortunately, this seemed to trigger a reaction in my knee later that day and even for a couple of days after. Whether this was a case of too much too soon or something in my cycling and/or rowing technique setting things off remains to be seen. Happily, I completed a couple of stints on the treadmill later in the week and experienced no knee pain over the weekend.

PhysioJohn Advice – Rest Days

Rest Days – By Nike Running UK
To race fast, push hard everyday, right? Nope. We need recovery to gain fitness. Push until you wear your body out, then give yourself a chance to rest and rebuild. Sleep long and heavy, and take easy days, cross-training days and don’t-even-think-about-running days to give your body and mind a breather. You’ll get

Right Knee Pain due to poor core stability

3rd Session with John: Initially for right leg pain due to poor core stability.
Last post: 30th Nov.

In my 3rd session with John we again focused on my core stability and worked on “the nearly nothing exercise”. This exercise helps to strengthen the transversus – a muscle group which stretches across the abdomen. The exercise itself is very gentle and start by lying down on your front (I found that it worked best if my spine was straight, which I achieved by propping myself up with cushions). Firstly the pelvic floor is tensioned, causing the transversus to tension which can be felt as a flat sheet across the abdomen.

We also looked at the muscles in my back around my spine. Sitting with my arms outstretched and then moving first my left then my right up and down causes the sheath of muscles around the spine to pulse with a slightly delayed phase. It was observed that my right hand side worked better than my left hand side suggesting that the lack of strength from my core muscles were also causing problems with my arm movement, shoulders and neck, and I have some instabilities. Working on the nearly nothing exercise should help to improve this.

Since starting physio I’ve been very aware of the way my body is moving as a whole and when I have done exercise I’ve made sure I’ve stretched out after and considered my posture whilst running or rowing – trying to keep relaxed and move fluidly.

Wk.1- Fixing my “Random” Calf Pain with AAA-Physio in Bristol

treadmill picture at 10km - heel strike on 1st appointment with physio 2011-12-12
Gait assessment for calf pain mainly on the right calf - Note heavy outside heel strike.

Getting Ready for London Marathon in Olympic Year 2012!

Starting Out
I’m and ex-Rugby player new to distance running. I started training for London 2012 (Marathon, not Olympics – look at the picture 🙂 ).

Random Calf Pain
As I didn’t have a back ground in distance running I was being careful about my introduction, building up distance gradually, core exercise and stretching etc.   I keep getting this random calf strain, something I’ve never had before.

It did start in the left, then miraculously jumped to my right where the most recent injury has been.  Usually if I wait a week without running it repairs itself, but it is completely random.  Up/down hill, fast, slow, start or end of run. I was at a complete loss as to the cause….

Main Findings:

  • Heel strike,
  • hips misaligned,
  • too much vertical movement,
  • all very much a function of my working lifestyle (poor posture etc).
  • These are the points I remember, but I’m reassured it’s all fixable!

John did a bit of re-alignment in first session, that had some immediate effects.  Going to try and fit in as many session I can over Xmas holidays.

I can’t stand not running and am falling behind schedule.  Looks like I’ve got some running technique to work on too!

  • (Hoping to see you at AAA-Physio! Tuesday 6.30 and Sunday 10am – JS-Ed.)
  • (Here are a couple of images, from my Walk:BacK  that might explain how your rotating pelvis, is causing your  spine to hinge and over-work into extension. JS-Ed.)

In this picture; tight muscles and ligaments on the front of the LEFT thigh are forcing the spine to overwork
Pelvis Rotation sky view - Pelvis rotates back on the LEFT (Anti-Clockwise)

Wk.2 – The Kneed for Speed – Running Technique

Last week’s session with John focussed on two things – my back and my running technique. John assessed my back with me lying on my side, noting that I was very tight between certain vertebrae in my lower back. He then proceeded to perform, as he put it, “physio black magic” in an attempt to loosen up the muscles in that region. Remarkably, following this my left leg performed much better in his various strength tests.

We then hit the treadmill to see how my current running technique stacked up – not bad but plenty of room for improvement was the general concensus! My existing technique displayed noticable hip drop and twisting of my spine (explained to me using the exercise notes on John’s website). Second time on the treadmill, John had me focus on my upper body technique – in particular my arm swing and head position. With correct arm swing, my running became a lot more stable, with reduced head “bobbing” and minimal hip drop. This was all clearly illustrated to me with video evidence.

During running, John also noticed my left Gluteus Medius was less responsive than my right and not working as hard. This might be caused by incorrect running technique over time resulting in the muscle not being used properly and becoming weaker. To compensate when running, that might have caused the hip drop and twisting spine, ultimately damaging the main nerve in my left quad.

John sent me away from this session to focus on my running technique. Over the course of the week I completed four ten-minute sessions on the treadmill (up to 11 kph and 2% incline). Whilst the numb sensation remains in my left quad, I have experienced no knee pain in the last week, which is a real confidence boost considering I went over six months with no treadmill work. Off for another session with John tonight – will be interesting to see what he’s got lined up for me…

AAA-Physio Meets 3x Olympian – Oli Beckinsale @ RACE Blokes (Big!) Breakfast Event – Bristol

AAA-Physio John Stephenson meets Olympic-Potential-2011-Oli-Beckinsale
Olympian Mountain Biker Oli Beckinsale with AAA-Physio Director John Stephenson MMACP MSc. MCSP. Blokes Breakfast Bristol 10th Dec.2011

Dougie from R.A.C.E. Organised the first “Meet an Olympian – Blokes Breakfast Event” in Bristol – This event ran as smooth as Triathlete Dougie’s swim stoke!! See him in action at the Lido Bristol

The Q&A Session with Oli Beckinsale was a real insight in what its like, to sustain this level of performance,  over what will be Oli’s 4th Olympics…..

Oli fractured the neck of his femur in a bike crash three months ago, and is working hard with his Sports Medicine Team to return to Olympic qualifying form for his 4th Olympics.

Oli recently bagged a Silver Medal at the Common Wealth games and fractures permitting!! Ranks in the top 12 in the World Rankings.

The next R.A.C.E. Event in the Olympic build up will be held in January 2012
for more information contact  Douglas Burnett United Reform Church Bristol BS8

Wk 1. Fixing my weak left arm

I’m an adventure racer. This involves mountain biking, running, kayaking, canoeing, orienteering and many other fun stuff, in races from 2hrs up to 10 days. As such I’ve got used to enduring discomfort and just getting on with things. My left hand and arm has been weaker with numbness in my left hand, I think as the result of a fall while snow-boarding many years ago. Since then I’ve seen all kinds of therapists starting with my GP and continuing with chiropratic, physio, sports massage but generally with no improvement just gradual decline in function. I’ve now reached the point where I even use the left hand gear shifter on my mountain bike with my right hand – which can get dangerous if the terrain is rough… and I generally use my left hand for pretty much nothing. So I decided to have another crack at seeing if someone could diagnose (and help) the problem before my sporting life is really badly affected.

I’ve just seen John and Annette who really went to town on me, with a complete range of manipulations and tests, to check track down the root of the problem. Various arm twisting and tests of the range of movement on both my good and bad sides led them towards problems impacting and restricting the nerves down my left arm, and starting with the vertebrae in my neck. Annette explained that the nerves could be constricted at various points between the point at which they leave the spine and my fingertips, and this could cause a lack of “ennervation”, or activation of the muscles, if the neural pathways were being restricted. She carried out some massage release on my neck and the nerves in my left upper arm, and the grip test in my left hand was noticeably improved.

There’s a long way to go to fix the problems which have developed over years, but I think it demonstrated to me that improvement is possible with some perseverance and the right advice. I left with some exercises to improve the neural tightness in my arm and some renewed hope… Next stop the swimming pool to loosen those shoulders up…