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Regain the Frontal Plane | Boddicker Performance

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Regain the Frontal Plane

by on Mar 22nd, 2010

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As I was working with a runner recently, she made a salient observation from her running career.  Athletes are more durable and better performers than runners.  Last week, I argued a few points for why I believe runners need more of a multi-lateral approach is that too often runners cease being athletes and at that point trouble arises.

We know that asymmetries can lead to a great deal of dysfunctional issues from the ground up and that asymmetries of all kinds (postural, structural, strength, motor control, mobility, stability, etc) are problematic and can be used to identify individuals at risk of injury.  Running alone feeds into the development of asymmetries of all kinds.  Most notably, the runner spends a great deal (all) of his time moving though the sagittal plane with some movement in the transverse plane. Over time the runner loses his ability to control and operate in the frontal plane.  This results in an imbalance in triplanar movement that can lead to a gamut of dysfunctional patterns including poor load transference through the LPH complex, the loss of multisegmental flexion, the loss of squatting ability, altered single leg stance, straight leg raise dysfunction, and reductions in hip rotation range  of motion.  To the runner this means more issues at the SI joint, pubic symphysis, the knee, lumbar spine, and groin (adduction related groin pain, “runners hernia,” athletic pubalgia, or labral impingement).

In the Postrual Restoration Institute (PRI) approach, it seems (Disclosure: I am by no means a PRI expert) they follow a three step process that involves first utilizing exercises to restabilize the function of the body in the sagittal plane, developing strength and motor control in the frontal plane, and finally adding in a transverse plane component to appropriately and completely allow runners to regain their performance capacity.

When looking at this through the lens of what we know about movement “subsystems” through the body we realize that loss of a runner’s ability to handle the frontal plane can lead to critical energy leaks.

The lateral subsystem is an integral component consisting of the gluteus medius, minimus, and the contralateral adductors of the thigh.  Diane Lee suggests that the TFL is a big player as well.  These muscles provide the primary containment of the hip joint and also contribute a great deal of frontal plane stability of the pelvis and spine.  As there is a mechanical relationship between frontal and transverse plane motion at the spine, a loss of stability in one leads to altered accessory movement, and as Sarhrmann warns, loss of optimal function.  This energy leak can lead to decreased efficiency and also decreased force production leading to lower performance capacity.  Addressing their function is of primary importance and doing so is difficult to do with running alone as these muscles do not serve a huge role in sagittal plane movement (they do, but to a minimal extent, and often as a result of inadequate function of the prime movers).

If we are to truly be functional, successful athletes it is imperative to develop systems in which our runners are allowed to remember that they are athletes.  Now please don’t get me wrong, I WANT RUNNERS TO RUN, I just don’t want them to ONLY run.

Best regards,

Carson Boddicker

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Leave a Comment »3 Comments
  • Dmetri Landness March 22, 2010

    I agree with you on many points here. As runners we are athletes and we need to act like it or we will falter and perish. I have coined the term “energy maintentance” as a critical part of doing what we do. It is a critical component that not enough of us consider. I do not think we should be running with bare feet as that is not innovative enough on the technology we possess. It is possible to run much faster rates with speed boosting soles rather than the soles of our feet!! Let’s not forget the dangers of running over glass, glue, nails, varnish cans and all other bits that are imposing on our terrain.

    Good training!!

    Dmetri Landness

  • Jim Hansen March 22, 2010

    I found your blog this week and bookmarked it to read more. I have to add to your discussion of Postural Restoration. I have been a competitive distance runner for way too long (about 35 years). I have suffered imbalances and all sorts of problems for over 25 years now. I have tried everything and every therapy I could find to fix myself. Nothing really worked for me. I got out of pain more easily, but the imbalances grew worse. This January and February I lucked into a Postural Restoration PT. Wow, she figured out what was wrong and starting the process of straightening me back out and strengthening the muscles that I no longer used correctly. I am running so much better, with an vastly improving stride, and getting my speed back. It is great stuff! To bad I wasted all those years, but at least I never gave up! Now it is back to being an athlete.

  • Nick Outlaw January 15, 2012

    Good post! I have to agree that runners need to run, however to become better runners they also need to compliment their running with lateral and travsverse exercises!

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