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Make yourself a more efficient runner with Profeet

by @garyfallsover
Wednesday 23rd November 2016
Tags  Profeet   |   Gary Dalton
Basically I’m lazy. Inherently, fundamentally and congenitally lazy. Least effort for the greatest reward kinda guy.  So efficiency is hugely important to me in my running as the way I see it the least effort I expend moving my sorry carcass from A to B is energy I can spend depleting the worlds ice cream stores. 
So when the folks at Profeet told me about their new magic box of tricks, a 3D motion detection scanner, I was intrigued. Could I become so efficient I could do all my runs without leaving the comfort and security of my fridge?
Well clearly not. But I’d give it a go anyway. Now in the interests of full disclosure I have to say here that I’m a Profeet ambassador. What that means essentially is that I wasn’t and am not charged for gait assessment and I receive a discount on my shoes. Though I was a paying customer before I was asked to be an ambassador for the shop and quite frankly if they stopped it tomorrow I’d still go there and pay full price. But don’t tell them that. 
So today I went back in for a proper chat with Paul O’Malley who is one of the shops run techs, a qualified Podiatrist who is fantastically knowledgeable about all things foot related.  Not so much on Welsh rugby but that’s another story.
Now unlike other 3D scanning systems there’s no hooking you up to a load of sensors, you run on the treadmill for no more than 30 seconds at a speed of between 9 and 20 kph and two depth sensitive cameras record you running and run it through a frankly bewildering series of algorithms to give you a stick man representation of how you run. Now if that was all it did I’d be impressed, after all who doesn’t love a running stick man.  But what it also does is to give you a set of data on nine key biomechanical markers which are combined to give the most fantastically comprehensive breakdown of running efficiency against a mean that I’ve ever seen. From current research the system is only a maximum of 2% less accurate than any lab based research quality equipment. 
Whereas traditional gait analysis, if done well by a trained professional, was mostly subjective and based on the techs ability to interpret what they were seeing on a video screen this system gives you quantifiable statistics which are compared against a mean datapoint, a figure accepted by the system as optimal. For example I can see that my cadence is just under 180 per minute which is ranked firmly in the optimal range but that my stride length is slightly long which is causing a high braking impulse. This slight over stride is also reflected in my ground contact time as I take slightly longer to cycle my feet through a full stride.


What was fascinating to me was that I could physically see in the stick man representation of me running a definite hip hitch where a slight restriction in my flexor was causing my knee to cycle slightly lower through its revolution on one side. As a consequence when I was moving through the stride plane my left side was staying relatively neutral and flat whereas my right was hitching to accommodate the restriction.  What this meant in practical terms was that hip imbalances were causing inefficiencies in the whole biomechanical chain, not only in just my hips. These imbalances were causing the foot crossover as my hip opened slightly on every stride and threw my knee out of sync. Not so much an issue when you’re just doing a short session on a treadmill but for someone who runs longer distance races these imbalances can mean the difference between finishing a race and a DNF.


But the data is only as good as it’s interpreted and Paul was at pains to point out that they weren’t in the business of encouraging people to chase perfect efficiency. He said that if Paula Radcliffe or Emile Zatopek had used a system like this as part of their coaching programme the machine would in all liklihood have shit itself. The body is an amazing machine which has an incredible ability to adjust itself to the task given. What the 3D scanner was best at was for athletes coming back from injury looking to rid themselves of repeat niggles and for those at the top of their game looking for the marginal gains that could make the difference between first and sixth. For the rest of us it provides some fascinating data and a way to improve our overall efficiency.


There’s a fascinating amount of data to be had here but unless you know how to interpret it and more importantly how to balance the inefficiencies to get the best out of your body in conjunction with your shoe choice you may as well just stick to a normal gait analysis. I can see huge worth in it as part of an injury rehab programme however and it’s already shown me areas in which I need to improve my strength. Unfortunately laziness won’t cut it and I’ll need to do some work before my next race.

Find out more at www.profeet.co.uk

About The Author

Gary Dalton

Gary Dalton is a rugby loving, crime fighting, white Irish Muslim ultra runner. Despite all this he's not a complete eejit. 

Gary is originally from the west of Ireland and can't actually remember when he moved to London - he blames a heavy diet of being tackled by prop forwards and potatoes for the memory loss. He hates going out for runs, canals and borderline hypothermia and loves ice cream and going out for runs. 


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