It occurred to me last night, as I have chatting with a friend at Yoga class, that I never wrote a post about my experience with at the RunSafe Clinic at UCSF. I feel like I’ve told so many people about it already, but probably best to document it for posterity, and anyone else who may be interested in it.

Over the past year, I’ve shared all of the ailments that I’ve had, which to me, sounded like more than a normal runner should have. I’ve been through physical therapists, sports medicine doctors and chiropractors, all of which have helped me tremendously, but none of them could tell me why I was getting hurt and how to fix it.

I’ve had a couple of gait analysis done, some of which I’ve blogged about, some of which I haven’t, all of which I walked away from not really understanding what just happened.

A couple of months ago I read an article in Runners World magazine about a clinic called “RunSafe” that takes a proactive group approach to evaluating a person’s running form. What that means is that a group of specialists evaluates a runner, preferably before an injury occurs. I was intrigued, and when I read that this clinic was in my own backyard at UCSF, I decided I must do it.

The very next day I googled it and found their web site. Unfortunately, when I clicked on “View Upcoming Clinics” I learned that there were no available openings. So I sent them an email and asked to be put on a Wait List.

Just a few short days later I received a response notifying me that a new schedule of clinics had just been posted. I quickly scheduled myself for a slot.

When I got arrived (at the brand new UCSF Campus by AT&T Park), I was unsure what to expect (their web site didn’t have as much details as it does now). What I found was 3 other runners who would be in the clinic with me.

Similarly, there were 4 stations set up that we would each rotate through:

1. Biomechanical Video Analysis

We were told to wear dark, close-fitting running clothes and as I found out, it was for this station. They first marked my body was marked with fluorescent tape, then had me run at a comfortable pace on the treadmill for about 15 minutes while they videotaped me from various angles. After the taping was done, they had me stay on the treadmill to do a few stretches and exercises, like one-legged squats, etc.

2. Strength & Flexibility

This station was conducted by a very knowledgeable physical therapist (i.e., I wouldn’t mess with her) that put me through more stretches and exercises to measure my strength and flexibility. It was a pretty thorough examination that was observed by a few up and coming interns. (I would go more into detail here, but I honestly can’t remember a lot of the specifics.

3. Nutrition

The third station was with a sports nutritionist. To be honest, I didn’t think I had much to discuss with the nutritionist, as I have one that I meet with on a monthly basis. But it was still an informative discussion ranging from what I eat before a run, how many nutrients do I consume, what do I eat during a run, when to eat, etc.

4. Foot/Footwear Assessment

The final station was with a foot specialist who analyzes feet and shoes. He looked at arches, calluses, wear and tread on shoes, etc. One of the other runners in my clinic brought in about 5-6 pairs of shoes and took full analysis of the therapist’s expertise (not kidding).

In all, the evaluation time took about 90 minutes, including a body screening of height, weight, etc to measure BMI, body fat, etc.

When everyone’s analysis was completed, the runners were asked to leave the room while the group of experts consulted together to relay their findings. When we were brought back into the room there were 4 chairs set up in front of a huge projection screen – kinda like a theatre.

They proceeded to run through each of our evaluations, station-by-station, including playing our each of our gait analysis videos.

It was then that I realized what the fluorescent tape on our bodies were for. They were reference points to show us the movement and/or abnormalities of our form. Other gait analysis that I’d had done never did that so when I watched video, I never knew what to actually look for. This process made it very clear. They also drew lines across different areas of the body, for example, across the hips, so you could see if one side dropped lower than the other while running – an indication of a muscle imbalance. Seeing the others’ videos gave me a point of reference – if I was doing something wrong, I could look at someone else’s video to see how it should be done correctly. These 2 things, to me, were the most valuable part of the experience.

The next day I was emailed a complete 15-page PDF report of my analysis from each station, along with the exercises and stretches (photos included) that I need to improve my form. A few days later a DVD was mailed to me with the video of my gait analysis.

The therapists made a point of telling us that no one really knows what the “norms” are for a runner, so they are using the clinic as a study to evaluate all the different runners that go through the process to see what the commonalities area. And while the program is so new, a follow-up program has yet to be developed, but they are looking to maybe have something like a 6-month follow-up to see how runners have progressed. I guess that means I need to be doing my exercises more consistently! ☺

But in all seriousness, if you have the opportunity to go through this program, or one similar to it, I would highly recommend it. As I mentioned before, I’d had a couple of gait analysis done before, so while not all of the findings were new to me (some were), it reinforced what I had been previously told, and/or suspected; but the experience and analysis was a lot more thorough than anything else I’ve received.


{thumbnail photo is an instagram of various places that i've run at}