Smart Athlete Podcast Ep. 162 – Ryan Wooderson

Smart Athlete Podcast Ep. 162 – Ryan Wooderson

[00:00:00] I definitely do focus on runners. And I think it was just kind of this thing that smacked me up the side of the head a couple of years into my career where I was like, I’m a runner. I’ve been a runner for a long time. And I feel like I understand them really well. And now I have this other knowledge base behind me of my PT degree and my clinical experience and the other things that I’m learning. It would be silly not to merge these things together because I love running and I love being in front of runners because I will absolutely talk about any of their chosen topics.

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Jesse: [00:01:28] Welcome to the Smart Athlete Podcast. I’m your host Jesse Funk. My guest today has his doctorate in physical therapy, which you might guess he’s a physical therapist. He has an orthopedic specialty. You can find him on Instagram @longrunphysio. Welcome to the show, Ryan Wooderson.

Ryan: [00:01:46] Thanks, Jesse. Appreciate it, man.

Jesse: [00:01:48] So before we got going, I’ll give a special shout out to a mutual friend of ours, Mr. Ian Talbot. So if you’re listening, thanks for joining us. I know Ryan was sent you a text of, I guess, the image of us as we before we got going. It’s so for you, the listener, if you’re not Ian, this episode is probably going to be full of talking about weird Midwest cultural things because I’m from the Midwest, Ryan’s from Midwest, who’s now transplanted to Colorado. So we’ll probably commiserate a little bit about just the odd things that happen in the Midwest in regards to our peculiarities and how everybody seems to move out West to Colorado but doesn’t want to stay. 

[00:01:48] So, Ryan, I guess that leads me into the big question, I think. You grew up in rural Kansas and then now you live in Colorado. To me, that seems like an easy switch. But you know what? Why didn’t we get you to stay in Kansas City? How did you end up in Colorado?

Ryan: [00:02:57] Yeah, so I’m from Hutchinson originally and ended up at Regis for PT school and it was here for three years. And I moved back to the Midwest, to Wisconsin for residency for a year. I froze my butt off and realized the weather is miserable except for like 17 days of the year. And so I moved back to Denver and I’ve been back here since 2013, so it was just too good of a place to stay away from.

Jesse: [00:03:28] See, that’s always my concern. I mean, besides the logistical headache of trying to move to a different state, my concern is that I’m going to freeze my butt off if I move to Colorado. Now you get to freeze your butt off a little bit here in Kansas City anyway. But just I assume it’s going to be cold or more so. Am I missing something? Is it a matter of is it like the Arizona thing where they go, “it’s a dry heat” or you go like “it’s a dry cold.” Is there something like that going on?

Ryan: [00:03:58] For the sake of keeping more people from moving to Colorado, let’s tell everybody that it’s freezing in the winter.

Jesse: [00:04:06] It’s horrible. You don’t want to do it.

Ryan: [00:04:09] Don’t move here. I don’t drink beer on a patio on a 60-degree day in January. Ever. That never happens. Everybody just stays buckled up inside.

Jesse: [00:04:22] I mean, it sounds like the place. I mean, I envision it as basically I’ve been to Colorado in the wintertime, so I had some idea. But in my mind, when I try to kind of mix those memories and realities, I go, “Oh, it’s just everything’s covered in snow. Everybody must be walking,” you know, get their poles in, their skis out or just like skiing around town because it’s cold all the time. And that’s just it’s a very active place. So I just assumed, like, everyone’s constantly in like a Lycra tight outfit moving around town on skis.

Ryan: [00:05:00] I think some people are in there like all the time. That’s not me. And no, it’s not like South Park. It’s not like Snowy all the time. Denver is pretty tepid. So it’s an excellent place to live.

Jesse: [00:05:14] Nice. So. I guess let’s back up a little bit. Before we got recording, I was asking you about did you compete collegiately? Like trying to figure out more about your background, obviously got your doctor of physical therapy, but you didn’t start there. I mean, there’s a number of years of living leading up to this. So I think on your website you talk about living in rural Kansas, being outside all the time. Were you just a kid obsessed with sports? Like how does this progression kind of happen?

Ryan: [00:05:54] Yeah, I think growing up in any rural area, you just naturally spend a lot of time outside. And because the weather in the middle of Kansas can be so miserable at many months of the year, you just figure out how to adapt your activity to that weather. So in the winter it was always basketball. In the spring and fall it was track and cross country. In the summer, you just try to survive.

[00:06:22] So I was very much a kid obsessed with sports in whatever I could get my hands on when I was young. And so I think it’s those sports that led me to just be attracted to PT as a profession because it’s a profession of movement. And that is something that I’m constantly doing. And I, my body and mind and soul freak out when I don’t move. So it’s just a natural fit for me as a profession.

Jesse: [00:06:54] I think as I’ve talked to a number of people over the years now, however many episodes we’re in, I think you’re going to be like 163 or 164 or something like that. I talked to a lot of different PTs, physiologists and one of the responses I get is people go into this field or this kind of field because they want it to be a pro athlete but didn’t quite have the physicality to do it. Does that apply to you? Did you ever have dreams professionally or anything?

Ryan: [00:07:31] No. I mean, I probably had daydreams. I, you know, I was a huge I still am a huge college basketball fan. So I would, you know, games with myself in the driveway of pretending I was playing for Roy Williams, that kind of thing, growing up, but never had the capacity to do that, you know, and never, never knew the level of work that was actually required to get there. So just that was not me. I was just a kid obsessed with sports and loved playing and love moving. I wasn’t anticipating making a living at it.

Jesse: [00:08:09] I think that’s. I think the tough thing and maybe why get that response and it was originally gosh, I’m going to forget his name now. Researchers from one of the University of California schools I was talking with who said that. And I think you get that response in part because of this, like. Almost like cultural imperative. I mean, how many sports movies do we have that are, like, filled with triumphant music? And it’s just like, if you just work hard enough and come together as a team, like, you’ll overcome all odds.

[00:08:46] And it’s like, obviously that doesn’t encompass the whole of the reality of the situation. So I just wonder how many people get caught up in that short-lived, so to speak, or that idea. It sounds like you kind of avoided those delusions of grandeur. I guess I’ll call them.

Ryan: [00:09:08] Yeah. I mean, I’m not going to say I didn’t have delusions of grandeur, but they were very, very short-lived. I can appreciate that genetics only takes you so far in a silo and hard work only takes you so far in a silo. It’s got to be a combination of both. And, you know, I probably didn’t fully appreciate either. I was when I was growing up to push myself hard enough, to be quite honest.

Jesse: [00:09:38] I mean, that’s all right. I think it’s fair to kind of have a fair, honest assessment of where you were in who you are and where are you going so. So I do want to ask you about it does seem like. You know, a lot of the content you put up is centered around running. Obviously, we talked about you have some running background or we’re recruited to possibly run in college. It didn’t end up doing that. But why is it just a matter of there’s a plurality of people that run? Do you want to focus on that or is there something in particular that would draw you to continue kind of focusing on that into your career?

Ryan: [00:10:24] Yeah, I definitely do focus on runners. And I think it was just kind of this. The thing that smacked me up the side of the head a couple of years into my career where I was like, I’m a runner. I’ve been a runner for a long time. And I feel like I understand them really well. And now I have this other knowledge base behind me of my PT degree and my clinical experience and other things that I’m learning.

It would be silly not to merge these things together because I love running. I love being in front of runners because I will absolutely talk about any of their chosen topics all day. So it was almost just a natural relationship that it took me a couple of years to come around to my career.

Jesse: [00:11:17] One of these. So if you go to Ryan’s website,, he’s got a few blog posts, not super active, but some very important ones. And so I’ve talked about this for you, the listener. If you aren’t on the YouTube page, you don’t know. I do a show just when we talk about running every Tuesday and Thursday. I’ve talked about this before, but people often ask about like runner’s knee or knee pain or is running going to destroy my knees? And you got a post about this.

[00:11:47] So you are more credentialed, qualified to talk about this than I am. So I kind of like to hear from you about running knees, knee problems. If I’ve been running for 20 plus years now, am I going to not have any knees here soon? Just walk me through, I guess, what running means for knees and the considerations there.

Ryan: [00:12:15] Yeah, I think that post came out of just some musings about some things that I still hear and some things that I used to hear in regards to what running does or doesn’t do to your knees. And one of the comments I make in that blog post is my grandpa used to say, you know, especially when I started running, I was like 12 or 13 or 14. He’s like “running will ruin your knees.” And here’s this 70-plus-year-old guy at the time telling me that my knees are going to be junk because I’m running. I was like, “okay, well, I’m just going to keep running anyway because I feel fine now.”

[00:12:51] Fast forward 20 some years to where I’m into my profession. I know more. I think it’s important for athletes, especially newer runners to the scene who probably hear some of these older adages that have just hung on to understand that, no, running’s probably not going to ruin your knees. There’s some research to suggest that just a moderate volume running over a long period of time is not going to strongly impact the cartilage changes in your knees. It’s not going to cause them to change any faster than if you were just a non runner with with a healthy knee.

[00:13:35] Then you start to get into some much higher and longer sustained volume. So if we’re talking about professional ultra runners or just even recreational ultra runners who will do multiple ultras a year, that type of volume over a longer period of time, that does start to have a little bit of an effect, but even that isn’t necessarily so strong of an effect that I would suggest that someone not do it. That partially answers your question, I think.

Jesse: [00:14:09] Well, I mean, I kind of just left it open to you to talk about whatever you wanted to regarding knee. But I just — it’s one of those things where I think about. I guess I’ve always been strongly interested in, “Are there like optimal biomechanics?” And what leads to particular injuries? Can you adjust those things? Are they inherent in somebody’s like structural makeup that they just are going to move in a certain way, like all those kind of things?

[00:14:40] And just I mean, if you go and I don’t know how you decide on your blog post, but often when we’re trying to decide like what videos should I be making, not the podcast, but running videos. I mean, we’re looking at like search engine volume, like what questions are people asking and “will running ruined my knees” is like way up there.

Ryan: [00:15:03] No.

Jesse: [00:15:03] Because it’s so perpetuated there. Like it’s going to do it. It’s going to destroy your knees. And it makes me think about two things. One, this is not I don’t think within your or my lifetime, but there used to be the idea that, like, working out too much was bad because you were going to run out of heartbeats. Like you only had so many heartbeats in a lifetime. And if you use them all up, then you’re going to die sooner.

Ryan: [00:15:31] Right.

Jesse: [00:15:31] Well, I mean, we know that’s bullsh*t at this point, but it’s it was repeated and repeated. And then it makes you think about in another one of your posts what you’re talking about, what to do about IT band syndrome. And you remark how research can take a minimum of 10 to 15 years to kind of catch up to it. Is this idea efficacious? Does this idea have legs? What evidence do we have to support that this is a good or a bad means of therapy in your particular case, but just think about how slow things turn.

[00:16:14] And you when are you talking about like. The longitudinal effects of running on knees over a lifetime. It’s going to take a minute probably to gather enough data from people getting starting at a young age and then getting into their seventies like it’s going to take maybe at minimum 50 years for us to really have that nice data if you can actually even follow people that long.

Ryan: [00:16:42] Right. I think with what what data we do have, it’s at least in my world, which is very tiny relative to the rest of the world, it’s pretty well understood that running will not wreck your knees, nor will exercise a nor will you run out of heartbeats.

Jesse: [00:17:00] Right.

Ryan: [00:17:01] That’s not a it’s not a thing. You’re not going to just run out of heartbeats because you exercise. In fact, quite the contrary. You might gain more heartbeats. But there are a lot of with respect to the knees and running, there are so many variables that go into consideration for how running does affect your knees. Yes, the mechanical factors are always a concern.

[00:17:26] And one of the most common questions that I get in the clinic or just via email or I’m a heel striker is is a heel strike going to affect my knees more positively or negatively than a mid or forefoot strike? And to answer that question, it’s no, it’s not going to strongly affect your knee changes one way or the other.

[00:17:56] What matters most with any type of foot strike pattern at all, whether it’s heel mid or forefoot, is that your foot lands mostly underneath your body? Right. I think people in in our running world understand that. But the general public isn’t again, there’s this catch up, there’s this lag time. The general public isn’t always aware of that type of knowledge yet.

[00:18:20] So you can strike with any part of the foot that you want. It doesn’t matter. So long as your foot lands mostly underneath your body, then you’re going to be striding with pretty solid mechanics for the most part, and your knee isn’t going to take a massive, damaging hit from a heel strike of it lands underneath your body. Now —

Jesse: [00:18:43] Go ahead. No, you’re fine.

Ryan: [00:18:45] Conversely, if you’re if you are a heel striker and you’re over striding, as they say, or you’re striking the ground well ahead of your body, then that can produce some other effects. I’m not certain if that would be necessarily at the foot of the ankle or at the knee or at the hip. But you place yourself at greater risk for injury regardless of your foot strike pattern if you strike too far in front of your body.

Jesse: [00:19:13] Well, I think that’s kind of the source of concern is that if you over stride you’re almost always going to be striking so that I think that’s where people go. It’s kind of like the whole square is a rectangle, but a rectangle is not a square situation where like if you’re over striking, you’re likely striking. But if you’re striking, you’re not necessarily overstriding.

[00:19:39] But again, talking about like. Kind of specialist knowledge versus generalist knowledge. I think that point gets missed and I think a lot of people do over stride because they’re trying to reach and make their stride longer for some reason whatever reason they’ve gotten in their head that they need to do this versus like pushing out of the back with propulsion. They’re like reaching forward and trying to have these big strides.

[00:20:05] And then the other part that I think people miss is that like. The biomechanical changes that happen in that like plant position, changes that happen as speed increases. So like, Mr. Talbot, if you’re still with us, you’re with your personally legendary sub two performance. I remember I was talking with Ryan as we this is for the 800 meter for anybody else. That’s not Mr. Talbot. You know, he’s running basically on his forefoot, like the whole half mile because he’s sprinting his butt off, you know, like he’s not heel striking.

[00:20:41] He’s it’s just because of the way you’re the speed that you’re going, the biomechanics at that point, you know, your heel may not even touch the ground that much in that particular speed, but like same guy, if we say go run, the 5000 will go “Why? I hate that.” But then his feet will probably have a different biomechanical striking position because he’s slowed down his pace.

[00:21:09] So like, that’s the variability of striking position and foot like ground contact I think is you definitely start to lose some people because we’re speaking about at least at the time, Collegiate Runner. Hopefully you’re still in good shape, but you’re probably not sub two 800 shape anymore. But just.

Somebody that’s in that shape has the capability of that range of motion versus like. We’ll say average Joe, who maybe runs ten minute miles. Well, they’re probably not going to progress in speed to such a degree that they’re going to have that entire foot contact change. So then it becomes more of a discussion of are you planting underneath you versus in front of you?

Ryan: [00:21:59] Right. Yeah. Biomechanically distance running and sprinting are very different. They’re very different and the energy systems that you use metabolically are different and your strike patterns are different and, and the muscle sequencing patterns are different. When you use your calves versus your glutes and your hamstrings and your quads and all that stuff, it’s all very, very different. And it should look different, hopefully to produce a different strike pattern, like you’re saying.

Jesse: [00:22:31] One of the things that. I talk about. I want to ask you in terms of whether this actually makes sense, because I talk about it. I think it does. But I always like to go and fact-check myself. So thinking about biomechanical differences between sprinting and distance running, especially as you go slower. You have, I’ll say, like that hip knee angle in distance running, you don’t really get above like 45 degrees. So like versus sprinting, like you’re getting much closer to 90 because you need that full power push off.

[00:23:09] And one of the things I talk about with like injury prevention for distance runners is doing strength training that increases like full, full range of motion because during running we only use that partial, which I believe, given the repetitive nature, if you do the partial and then aren’t strong through the full, I guess flexion is the word I’m looking for. I think hopefully you’ll correct me here in a second, then increase your injury risk. So it’s something I talk about. But again, you’re the authority. So I wanted to check in with you whether my brain’s on the right track or whether I’ve gotten off somewhere.

Ryan: [00:23:50] So you’re asking in terms of range of motion of the knee, it’s —

Jesse: [00:23:56] So let’s say like like not necessarily the knee, but just like full. So. Full range of motion for use of hamstrings quads your major movers in running that that plank position starts at say 45 degrees maximum and comes down versus like you technically can bring it up to 90 but you’re not going to do that during distance running. So like doing strength training that would maybe if say if you squat you’re going to get much closer to 90 even though you’re not using that during running, using that as an effective means of kind of pre hab, so to speak.

Ryan: [00:24:34] Yeah. So you’re speaking of using strength training to produce and help maintain certain ranges of motion that aren’t utilized with distance running.

Jesse: [00:24:47] Correct. As a means of preventive maintenance.

Ryan: [00:24:50] Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m a huge proponent of that. There’s, there are two sides to that coin. With strength training, I try to take my athletes through as many running specific movements as possible. And what I mean by that is we’re loading tissues through ranges that are specific to running, whether it’s the ankle, the knee or the hip or even the trunk. So we’re loading and running specific ranges.

[00:25:20] In addition to that, I think it’s very wise, just as trying to produce a holistic athlete regardless of their ability level, doesn’t matter if they’re recreational or a pro, but to produce a holistic athlete, it’s wise to work through large ranges of motion because that will coach your brain, which will coach your tendons and your ligaments and your muscles and your cartilage. To accept and be willing to produce that range of motion on a more, more available basis. That makes sense.

Jesse: [00:25:54] Yeah, I think so. One of the — I call it a trend, but I don’t really mean that in the sense that like it’s a fad. But one of the trends I’ve seen grow in the last decade is more, more emphasis on like eccentric loading of muscles as a means of maintenance and prevention. Whereas like, say, I remember a time in college when I got hurt and then.

[00:26:27] For a long story short, was basically told to continue running and kind of rain myself lopsided like you could see a physical difference in the size of my legs and I needed to go through rehab and it was basically all concentric loading. So let’s, let’s do hamstring curls, let’s do squats, all that kind of stuff. But really no eccentric loading and that got me through and got me back to competing and all that kind of stuff.

[00:26:49] But I think about kind of the, you know, it almost feels like the complete opposite approach. Like, let’s take you through, like holding power through the full extension, doing glute bridges and I never know what the Nordic something a cameron. You’ll tell me what they are. You know what I’m talking about.

Ryan: [00:27:10] Nordic curls?

Jesse: [00:27:11] Yes. Which are. Which are difficult. I’ve been doing those lately. So can you talk to me about the importance in the place that eccentric loading takes into a runner’s life, both in injury prevention, maintenance, rehab, that kind of stuff?

Ryan: [00:27:32] Yeah, I think that type of loading. So for those listening, there’s different ways to load tissues, right? You’re talking about eccentric loading versus concentric versus isometric and they are we can go into those definitions later. But with eccentric loading, you’re basically loading in a very general sense for the lay listener. You’re loading in the lengthening the muscle at the same time.

[00:27:57] So imagine your quads. Going downstairs. Right? That’s a loading and lengthening activity for the quads and that’s an eccentric activity. Running is rife with eccentric activity from start to finish. And that’s exactly the way in which we should train. That doesn’t mean concentric contractions and isometric contractions don’t have a place. They absolutely do. But if you’re looking to grow muscle tissue, improve global strength, even improve range of motion, since we touched on that earlier and have greater capacity of your muscles, just in general, eccentric loading is where a lot of that stuff lies.

[00:28:49] That’s a type of loading that for someone who is unfamiliar with regular strength training, they probably need to be worked up too, because it’s pretty it can be pretty taxing depending on how you dose it, but it holds a massive amount of value for any runner at any point.

Jesse: [00:29:11] I think what makes things difficult for, let’s say, the lay listener, the listener that’s here with us is just like there are schools of thought. Which is kind of risen and fallen away. And sometimes things go through cycles of like. You know, this is popular and that’s popular. And so you get this sub niche of advice for runners and then you get like. Just to pick on them, not really pick on them, but you get like Men’s Health magazine and you get that look going on, like the advice for getting six pack abs and doing all these things.

[00:29:55] And they may not necessarily even be applicable to your situation if you’re trying to maximize running speed or endurance or whatever. I think just the trouble we run into is like so many mixed messages in terms of specificity to people, which is why I kind of ask you some of these questions to try to at least get some of that information out in terms of specifics for runners, because there are so many of us and how you deal with like, keeping yourself healthy, basically.

[00:30:33] I preach consistency. Consistency breeds results. If you get injured, you’re no longer consistent. You’ve got to take time off and you got to rehab. And I’ve had my fair share of injuries over the years. So as a general question. Is there a or a top set of most common injuries you see in people that you work with?

Ryan: [00:31:01] In runners just by the data. And this is a little bit ironic considering the prior conversation we just had, but by the data, the knee is the most injured joint in runners, and that’s largely due to a few factors. Number one is poor training. And that can be defined as either being inconsistent or undertraining or overtraining that can create the knee issue. Also incomplete, what I call incomplete mechanics.

[00:31:44] If there’s something with the stride or what have you, we can dive into that all we want. But something mechanical going on with their gait that places undue stress on the knee that could be distributed somewhere else. Those are the most common reasons. So nobody’s getting a traumatic knee injury from running, right? Unless you’re on the trails and something weird happens, it’s always this accumulation of multiple factors coming to a head that creates the irritation at the knee.

[00:32:15] So that’s the most common complaint that I typically get from runners. Otherwise, I forget what the data says. But my most common that I see other than knees is if hip stuff. And also for the same reasons under overtraining or incomplete training. And that’s a whole other kettle of fish to discuss and also incomplete mechanics, those kinds of things. Those are very, very common themes of injuries that are seen. So those are the most common things that I see.

Jesse: [00:32:48] Now with the hips anecdotally. I know that I’ve had coaches talk about that’s typically more of a woman’s problem just because their hips are structured differently after they go through puberty than men’s. Does that line up with what you see?

Ryan: [00:33:12] I would agree that just again, anecdotally in the clinic, I do see more women with hip issues, but I also see guys with hip issues. So I —

Jesse: [00:33:24] Or something that they don’t have a monopoly on. And all that doesn’t skew that direction is all I’m trying to figure out.

Ryan: [00:33:30] It seems like it does. It seems like it does. And I can’t speak to the data on like incidence of hip injuries in female runners versus male runners. I’m positive that it’s out there. I’m just not aware of it at this moment. So anecdotally, I do see more women with hip issues than men.

Jesse: [00:33:49] Okay. That current leads me to a little bit of an overarching question that I have and I kind of debate depending on which kind of new study I see or what information I get. And that is, should you try to change people’s biomechanics?

Ryan: [00:34:12] This is one of my favorite topics to get feisty about. So. My professional bias is to change people’s biomechanics as minimally as possible to produce the greatest possible effect. If that makes sense. I am really, really trying very hard not to mess with people’s strike patterns. So if someone comes to me and says, “hey, man, I’m a heel striker, what do you got for me? Because everybody demonizes, heel striking or some people do.”

[00:34:56] You know, I’m trying really hard not to actively shift that person to a mid or forefoot strike because that is just an entirely different program cognitively for that person. And will you’re opening Pandora’s box as a clinician there that that is less productive for the individual who is in front of you. That being said, there are rare occasions and I’ve been doing this for ten years. I’ve probably changed someone’s strike pattern or coach someone into a different strike pattern. Five times in my career, maybe less.

[00:35:35] The occasion to change someone’s strike pattern is just not very frequent at all. And when I have encountered that, it’s because I’ve tried to uncover everything else. It just hasn’t yielded the result that we were looking for. And so I go, okay, it’s time, because this is the last thing available to us that will one of the last things is never, never the end, but one of the last things available to us that can help you run better and more comfortably and maybe more efficiently.

[00:36:16] So I’m not a big fan at all of changing strike patterns or biomechanics in general. The data doesn’t point to it. The research doesn’t point to it, particularly with strike patterns. What I do try to do, I do this quite often is I’ll take folks for I don’t have a treadmill in my in my gym, so I’ll take folks for a run around the neighborhood and I’ll watch them run. And while we’re running or after, I’ll give them some visual cues and some mental cues to practice.

[00:36:46] And we’ll go out again and say, okay, for the next minute, I want you to practice this cue that we just talked about and then just let it go and then just run. And then in another minute we’ll bring the cue back in and just kind of cycle on and off. So I’ll give people cues to see if we can get something closer to more optimal mechanics for that person.

Jesse: [00:37:11] I think the one thing I think about or struggle with and in regards to, like, should you change people’s biomechanics? And I’m with you with the strike pattern, as we discussed. It kind of depends on speed. For a large majority of people. So some of that just is a moot point. Like it doesn’t matter. But I know, like, there’s a gentleman I see run around my neighborhood. I used to call him Bouncy Man. But I’ve actually met him. His name’s Aaron. He just lives down the street from me.

[00:37:47] And if I can demonstrate kind of what he does, he does this, like, up and down kind of jumpy thing as he runs. And now he runs two-a-days all the time. Seems fine. Like he doesn’t seem to be injured. He’s not doing anything. But like, I look at him and I go like, you’re wasting energy by all this, like, bouncing.

Ryan: [00:38:07] Right.

Jesse: [00:38:07] Like, and go, just can we make you faster by directing that forward instead of up and down? But then obviously the potential issue being that his body’s adapted to that, his tendons have adapted to that particular form, all those kind of things. And you get increase risk of injury when you start tweaking that and putting loads where they’re not used to being and have him trying to maintain his regular volume.

[00:38:35] So that’s kind of like a personal almost a pet peeve is not the right word, but just like, I don’t know, interest. The other thing I think about which is more in your realm is like, say, people have this is a phrase my former coach, Barb Lindquist would mention. She would say, people have “mom butt” which is when they’re like sitting back, like almost like they’re sitting down into a chair and running at the same time. Do you know what I’m saying? 

Ryan: [00:39:07] Mm-hmm.

Jesse: [00:39:09] Basically, they’re like, they’re not utilizing their glutes. They’re not ever going to have, like, a nice, strong, straight body line during that push-off phase because their butts basically sat down.

Ryan: [00:39:18] Right.

Jesse: [00:39:18] Like, and obviously you’re missing a lot of power and stable stabilization from a lack of activation in the glutes. Do you ever — Do you mess with something like that? And then so that’s one. And then the other is if you have a biomechanic which leads to repetitive injury. Do you try to adjust that?

Ryan: [00:39:43] Right. So let’s take these as three separate cases. First first bouncy man whom we now know is Aaron.

Jesse: [00:39:52] Yes.

Ryan: [00:39:54] It sounds like he can introduce some volume because he’s doing two-a-days and he’s bouncing along. And exactly like you said, his body seems to have adapted to it. To where he is running two-a-days and —

Jesse: [00:40:13] He’s doing marathons. He’s doing fine.

Ryan: [00:40:15] I’m not changing that. I’m not changing that. And I think you hit on something really important is if I do decide to change it, where am I redistributing that load? Because I always tell my runners the energy of running doesn’t go away. This is physics. And if you mess with physics, all you’re doing is pulling a load from one or two tissues and shifting them to others.

[00:40:37] And you might, in Aaron’s case specifically, you might be shifting into other tissues that aren’t adapted to what you’re asking them to do. So if he’s trucking out marathons and is satisfied with what he’s doing and how he’s doing it, I’m not messing. I’m leaving that alone. Even though it might on the surface look a little goofy. You’re like. I’m not touching it. Let him go. Let him go.

[00:41:03] I’ve got a buddy who he’s like 6’3, 6’4. He regularly clocks off sub-three marathons. He actually ran the New York City Marathon under 3 hours wearing a lobster costume. And he barely leaves the ground. Barely. It’s almost like a shuffle. It is impressive. And I wouldn’t change a thing about his gait because he runs really well and mostly injury-free. So even though it looks a little odd, why would I mess with that? It works for him and his body’s adapted to it. In the case of mom butt I’ve never heard it called that.

Jesse: [00:41:46] But keep in mind this is coming from she’s two things. Number one, a mom. She’s now in her gosh, she just had a birthday. How old is she now? I don’t know. We’ll say in her forties. Now, she may be a little older. I’m sure you can look it up. But also former world number one in triathlon. So she’s all of these things. So and also a wonderful woman. She’ll train anybody whether you got mom butt or not. So so keep in mind who she is and kind of where that’s coming from.

Ryan: [00:42:16] For sure I do try to retrain the mom butt position because in that in that space with your body doing that thing, thousands and thousands of steps per run, you are almost certainly setting yourself up for injury. So it very much depends on the individual in terms of what type of cues I’ll give to try and help them out of that or just into something that’s more economical.

[00:42:51] And it probably takes a lot of time for their brain to be able to get there. But I do that is a person I’m going to try and gently coach away from that pattern. And I say gently, because they’ve chosen that pattern, their body has chosen to be there for whatever reason. So it’s something that their brain prefers. So if your brain this is anyone with any pattern, if your brain prefers something, it is exceptionally difficult to teach it how to do that same thing another way. Right?

[00:43:23] Think about eating. You know, I eat with my right hand. It would be a monstrous pain in the ass to teach myself to eat with my left hand exclusively. Same idea. So it’s hard to. It needs to be done gently. So it’s hard to coach that mom butt out. But it’s very doable. And it probably should be done just because of the risk, possible risk of injury.

Jesse: [00:43:48] That leads me to a final question before we get to our usual wrap up. That makes me think about. So I’m thinking about Aaron, formerly known to me as Bouncy Man. If you’ve watched any of my other running form videos on the YouTube channel previously referred to as bouncy man and before I met him. Thinking about Ryan or I had a friend who just and this is going to be getting to my point as a child just ran goofy as heck like I just I didn’t understand what he was doing.

[00:44:25] So, you know, at the time when you are and again, if Mr. Talbot’s still here, we’re in college. This is ten plus years ago now. We had the big movement about barefoot shoes and changing biomechanics and low heel to toe drop and all that kind of stuff going on. And during that time, I picked up the idea about run like a child because most children, if you take their shoes off and just let them run, have pretty good biomechanics, like you don’t have to teach them good biomechanics.

[00:45:01] And then there’s the kind of adversaries shoes and shoes messed all those things up. So my question is, because you said so, like adaptation like in Aaron’s case, he’s got this kind of bouncy thing going on, but he’s adapted to it. He’s doing fine. He’s happy with what he’s doing. No problems. We shouldn’t change it. Well, that comes with a lifetime of probably doing that. So should we try to encourage or mold children into a particular biomechanical form prior to a lifetime of, well, for lack of a better term, called maladaptation?

Ryan: [00:45:45] Oh, boy. That’s a hefty question. I think I need to chew on that for a second.

Jesse: [00:45:59] No, you’re fine. Well, don’t worry. If you get it wrong, you’re just going to destroy the lives of millions of children. It’s no problem.

Ryan: [00:46:08] No pressure. Everybody’s hips are going to be dysplastic, right? So the question is, should we attempt to kind of mold children into an optimal —

Jesse: [00:46:21] Into “proper” biomechanics if you’re not on the video version, I’m doing the rabbit ears.

Ryan: [00:46:26] Yeah. Again, I would probably say no. I think let them run how they run. If there’s something that looks harmful and in fact, they’ve incurred injury that matches up with that mechanic, then yeah, it’s worth editing. But one of the I use this an example and I can’t for the life of me remember her name was the high school cross country runner. She’s a phenom. This gal is clocking off like sub 16 5Ks like it’s nothing.

[00:47:06] And she is absolutely crushing it. And she runs like Bambi on ice, like her knees are knocking all the way home. And it is just as a bio mechanism and as a PT, it’s a little bit painful to watch, but it’s also kind of amazing because holy cow, she’s crazy fast and she has these interesting mechanics. And she’s okay. So part of that is just natural human development, right? Our hips and femurs are doing all and pelvises are all doing weird stuff as we develop, they’re rotating and they’re shifting and doing all sorts of things.

[00:47:44] So to try and coach those optimal mechanics, I think a person is better served until their body is fully developed so that you know what their anatomy is and their anatomy is concrete right? After like 22 or 25 years of age because some people do finish developing that late. I don’t know how much you mess with someone like this gal. I wish I could remember her name, but someone like this young gal who’s clocking these sub 16 5ks. Would you mess with that? No, probably not. Because she’s 16, 17, 18, and her hips and femurs are probably still anatomically rotating.

[00:48:30] So what good is it going to do to coach against her anatomy? That’s still changing. Probably not much. Right? Wait until she’s finished developing. And then if she still has some of these interesting mechanics that you can easily look up on YouTube, if that’s still a thing, then maybe you can coach her a little bit differently in terms of her mechanics. But again, then it becomes a question of, well, have you been getting injured? No. Maybe your body has adapted really well to your now concrete anatomy, and this is for her probably three or five years down the road.

[00:49:14] So to your question of should we coach kids form to be optimal? I think of a coach has a good understanding of that their athletes’ anatomy. Then they can maybe embark on a little bit of coaching form to economize things a little bit. But if a coach isn’t certain about anatomy and if they’re fully formed and whatever. You know, maybe you dial it back to just giving them mental cues instead of saying do this, not that kind of thing, and then trying to like fully coach out a different motor program entirely.

[00:49:58] Just give them a little nugget and say, try this, see how it goes and let’s see if it makes you a more economical runner. So there’s options there about how you could approach it.

Jesse: [00:50:10] Well, now that we’ve, I guess, saved the lives of millions of running children. It’s a good, good note to wrap up on. So for you, the listener, you probably know if you listen to my other episodes, but each season of the show, I have a question I ask all of my guests. This season’s question has been emphasis because it was suggested to me by a business friend of mine, because not enough of us do this. So I’ve been putting a lot of people on the spot with this question this year, but I think it’s worth the emphasis. So the question I’ll ask you, Ryan, that I’ve asked all my guests this year is how do you celebrate your wins?

Ryan: [00:50:51] How do I celebrate my wins? The first thing I do is I smile and I try to pause and appreciate the win for what it is and not allowing myself to get too high about it because there’s going to be a low at some point. So you got to mitigate just a little bit. So I smile and try and laugh and appreciate the win for what it is. Then following that, it’s usually either bourbon or a beer. To celebrate the win. So if that’s on a patio on 60 degree day in January in Denver, so be it.

Jesse: [00:51:30] We’re not in Denver. So don’t go there.

Ryan: [00:51:33] We’re not in Denver all the time. We live in South Park. Don’t come here. Yeah, that’s how I celebrate my wins. I try not to get too high or too low. My most recent win was leaving my corporate job to go to work for myself. And that was a huge, huge win for me and could not have done it without the love and support of my wife and son. So that felt like a massive win and I was able to kind of pause and appreciate the win for what it was. And then I had a nice glass of bourbon and called it a day, and the next day it was Tuesday. So carry on.

Jesse: [00:52:11] Fair enough. Ryan, if people want to get in touch, see what you’re up to, get advice, any of that kind of stuff. Where can they find you?

Ryan: [00:52:18] Yeah. I’m most active on Instagram longrunphysio is the easiest place to find me. My website I’m trying to be more active with the blogs now that I have more time on my hands, I’m trying to create just a little bit more. So look forward to more of that. And if you have any specific questions, either reach out to me on Instagram again, longrunphysio, or just send me an email [email protected]. I’m happy to answer any questions you’ve got.

Jesse: [00:52:48] Awesome. Thanks for hanging out with me, Ryan.

Ryan: [00:52:50] Well, thanks, Jesse. I appreciate it, man.