In this two-part feature special, Profeet guest writer and keen runner Stuart Appleby talks about his first experience of 3D Biomechanical Analysis at Profeet’s 3D Motion Lab…
Running is a sport for everyone and so is Profeet’s 3D Motion Lab, catering for all types of runners, including intermediate, experienced, short and long distance and track-goers – regardless of age, ability or overall objectives or goals.
Today, most of us record a whole range of activity data and performance-related stats following every outdoor or treadmill run – leading to a constant and steady stream of analysis syncing to our phones.
Apps, stats and data are part of daily life…
It’s all well and good having access, mainly through apps such as Strava, Nike and MapMyRun, to rich information but what does it all mean? How should it be interpreted? Is it welcome or possibly just a distraction – making us all overthink? Does it generate runners’ anxiety if you feel that you’re not meeting perceived targets, impressing followers and progressing? Or does it do exactly the opposite? It’s probably fair to say there are people in both camps.
The 3D Motion Lab analysis experience
Well, while these questions aren’t necessarily simple – like running should be – to answer; thankfully, through Profeet’s 3D Motion Lab, it is now possible to record and crunch valuable numbers and engage with them in a productive sense to determine the meaning behind them, how they correlate with performance and the best way to integrate the assessment data into your training and exercise routine.
The lab is really a one-stop shop designed to analyse and optimise running technique and gait, footwear and create custom-made insoles, all during a single appointment.
Taking roughly an hour or so to complete* at Profeet’s highly regarded and conveniently located Fulham Road store – with the assessment, at the end, seeing you take home a pair of specially made insoles for your trainers – the overriding experience really makes you feel like an elite athlete.
Indeed, Profeet’s warm and professional approach ensures you get exactly the same treatment as the likes of a Mo Farah or Jo Pavey would receive, should they drop by the West London shop.
Having previously completed VO2 max testing and a range of other running-related exercises, I had an idea in my mind what it felt like to be under the microscope, somewhat – working with running experts – but this was a new experience, and certainly you’ll be pleased to know, easy and relaxed on the body with only a basic fitness level required to take part.
With my 3D appointment booked in advance and details also shared easily with the Profeet team online, I was introduced upon arrival at the store to the excellent Tom Scales, Assistant Manager and Senior Technician at Profeet, whose knowledge, passion and insight shone through right from the word go.
High Definition cameras map and track your movement
Tom started by observing my stride as I jogged a few lengths of Profeet’s in-store track, before settling into the Lab – a state-of-the-art facility – to get started with the 3D analysis, barefoot, on a comfortable treadmill setting so that my feet were really in tune with the belt for the benefit of analytical purposes.
Profeet’s high-tech depth cameras collected my running motion data and – using highly-advanced algorithms – the software soaked up intelligence to build a 3D picture of myself running on the treadmill, focusing on range of joint motion from all different angles, forces generated from stride patterns and other key running parameters.
It is actually a unique experience to watch yourself back at close quarters – similar, I imagine, to how professional athletes must feel when their performance is scrutinised with a fine-tooth comb by high definition, slow motion cameras on television.
Seeing the live data being collated on a screen instantly right in front of your eyes from the treadmill was incredible. Data generation happened incredibly quickly, highlighting straight off the bat a potential power weakness in my left leg running stride, coming all the way down from the hip joint and into the knee.
The Gait Cycle component of the assessment – helping to identify patterns that could lead to or is affected by injury – is brilliant for examining all forms of a person’s movement.
This element of the assessment noted slight but nevertheless important to know misalignment in my upper and lower body posture – referencing that my left foot and leg was pointing out and away from my body when running.
Deep data, yes, but with expert interpretation
Reducing injury risk is fundamental to performance and enjoyment at any level so it was great to feel the benefits of the assessment as it was taking place. Shortly thereafter, Tom’s technology spotlighted the fact that it was a tendency of mine for each of my arms to wrap inwards into my chest, rather than being straight and pointing forward – reducing the positive force and potential momentum of a runner.
Further analysis determined that my running economy which, in essence, examines the efficiency of technique and overall effort – pinpointed an over-reliance on my stronger, right side. The subsequent joint-loading segment also selected this crucial point.
Clear explanation of all findings were offered throughout by Tom while assessment feedback – in the form of an Mp4 video and tailor-made MotionMetrix test results delivered via email very quickly – brought to life the data collected as Tom used the information to shape and create, in-store, custom insoles designed to benefit my high-pronating feet.
How does this information translate into my running performance?
In the part two of this feature – soon to be published on the Profeet website – I will share how I’ve got on in the first few months of regularly wearing my custom-made insoles, both in the gym and outdoor running, and also how I have used the data provided to make necessary tweaks to my technique to aid performance and mitigate injury risk.
Thanks to Stuart for sharing his personal experience in the Profeet Lab – look out for the follow-up coming soon