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  • Writer's pictureChris Kelly

In my last article, I covered the basic biomechanics of gait and how getting stuck on one side can wreak havoc on one area.  As a general rule, it is pretty safe to say that we can consider it a postural issue (how we hold ourselves and how we move) if one area aches or hurts versus other areas.

The solution for this problem is going to be specific prep strategies and exercises that place the body in a better position and re-train the way we distribute our weight.

But lets say your knees just hurt all the time and you are fed up. No posture hack we can conceive is going to clear this up because it is likely a capacity issue (namely how much overall volume our body can tolerate).

With each training session, our body accumulates what is known as acute fatigue which is a short term disruption of our ability to perform our targeted action. For example, If I run a six minute mile at the beginning of my a six mile run and finish my last mile at a seven minute pace.

Cumulative fatigue is the overall accumulation of fatigue over multiple sessions that leads a prolonged disruption in performance. This type of fatigue can also be influenced by non-training factors such as nutrition, sleep, psychological stress, exposure to toxins, etc.

The other term I want you to become familiar with is Maximal Recoverable Volume which basically represents the total amount of volume our bodies can recover from.

When aches and pains seem to build or fail to disperse in one or multiple areas of the body, it is a relatively good sign that the MVC threshold has been exceeded. Eventually, these aches and pains are given names like tendonosis, tendonitis, strain, sprain and even tear.

This MVC concept is also why cross training and strength training is so important for runners. The act of OVER running places repetitive stress on the tissues which eventually become the subject to overuse injuries and pain.

Cross training (in particular circuit training and activities which allow us to move laterally) disperses some of this stress amongst other tissue and gives these structures a chance to recover.

Although we are always looking to improve performance, strength training and plyometrics are most valuable because they improve the body’s ability to handle the forces of running with less strain. This will potentially increase the amount of volume we can tolerate as well as allow us to recover faster.

My goal with the second installment of this series then is to give you some simple ways to calculate and safely increase weekly volume while staying below the MVC. I will also touch upon some novel strength and cross training strategies to prepare the body to handle whatever life throws our way.

Fatigue Distribution 101:

When gauging overall fatigue, we generally use both internal (how we feel) and external (how much we physically do) measures to give us an overall picture.

Volume is by far the most important factor in the build up of fatigue and it can be tracked relatively simply in activities such as running or soccer through apps like run keeper or strava. As a general rule, increasing incremental volume of weekly work by 10-15% per week allows for safe progress with minimal associated injury risk and soreness.

The other thing to consider here is that once intensity goes above around 75% of maximum efforts, fatigue will accumulate exponentially faster and affect recovery and soreness. A recommendation I have followed for many years is to separate out “hard” (75%+ effort) and “easy” (less than 75% effort) days by at least 48 hours so intensity is spread throughout the week.

The X-factor that this number doesn’t touch upon is how we react to work internally. The most useful measure to pay attention to for this is Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) both during individual exercises as well as the cumulative effect of the session itself.

I like to use a 1-5 scale to measure how I feel BEFORE a session to give me an idea of how hard I will push on the day(4-5 being ready to hit a new PR, 3-4 being ready to maintain my current level and 1-2 being recovery/easy day)

Our goal is to sync up our 4-5 efforts with our “hard” days. But lets say you have just broken up with your significant other or had the misfortune of catching a Kathy Griffin comedy special.

Your psychological stress would be through the roof and would ultimately affect the ability to perform at higher intensities. We could simply shift the hard day we had planned to later in the week to allow us to better match the RPE.

Preparing the A-Team:

The A-team in this case are the muscles and structures which are most readily involved in running. Here we have the toes, foot, Achilles tendon and knees. But instead of being jacked like Mr. T, these often underdeveloped and weak areas are the ones that are most likely to fail when injury occurs.

This means we need a lot of remedial strengthening exercises for each area performed at a SLOW and controlled pace for relatively high reps. This pace will ensure we build the type of muscle we need (slow twitch) to better withstand the ground as we run. Here are a few of my favorites (Perform each exercise for 12-20 reps or steps at a SLOW pace):

The other factor to consider is tolerance of compressive force (aka feet hitting the ground) as we move. I was recently introduced to a dynamic warm up series that is a fantastic way to build up specific endurance/strength for our running muscles as well as improve form specific to running.

I recommend performing each of the following exercises for 10 seconds followed by 20 seconds off back to back. Begin by repeating the circuit for six minutes and add 1-2 rounds per week to build up to 20-30 minutes.


I once heard a saying that we don’t get fit with running, we get fit to run. And its something I completely agree with. My goal with this article series is to give you the “whys” as well as the “hows” and in our last installment, we will review what an overall cross training, warm up and strength program is implemented and applied to a successful runner.

Until then… be good to one another and the world,

Coach Chris

  • Writer's pictureChris Kelly

This article goes out to every runner who has ever been hurt or experiences pain when you run. According to statistics, around 70% of you will experience pain or get hurt at some point every year. But despite the aches and pains, you will continue to run because you love it and it fills your soul. I completely get that part, I feel the same way about soccer, and when it was taken away from me for several months due to a hamstring injury, it was as if a piece of me was missing. What I struggle with is the propensity to push thru the pain and just run. I have heard orthopedic surgeons tell patients “running is bad” as a blanket statement when what they really mean is “running beyond your body’s current capacity to handle stress”. So why do you hurt when you run? You may have been told you have IT band tendonitis or a hamstring strain, but realize these things are the result of a problem versus the problem itself. Pain is simply the body’s way of telling us we have pushed past it’s current capacity to handle stress and the damage that occurs is the end result. I write a lot about movement/biomechanics because it is my jam, but we really have three factors that affect how much stress the body can tolerate during running:

The ability to weight shift from side to sideThe capacity of the body to handle compressive forces created by runningGeneral running formAny of these factors could be a weak link and each must be addressed to ensure we able to resist stress and perform to our expectations. This not only applies to runners, but any human that propels their body thru space.

I have learned some incredible stuff recently regarding the above and I plan to use this column over the next few weeks to cover each of these factors in length.

Today, we will discuss the number one on my list (which is the gait cycle) and how to effective prepare to run or walk to ensure we distribute our weight equally from side to side.

Right out the Gait:

See what I did there? The gait cycle refers to alternation between stance (when our foot is on the ground) and swing (when our foot is off the ground) phases of walking or running as we move thru space.

This cycle—which we see play out thousands of times per day—represents how effectively we are at moving from one side of our body to the other. This cycle is also one of our most frequently referenced movements and an inability to shift to the other side is a major player in most non-traumatic aches and pains we experience.

I have worked with countless runners with knee, hip or lower back pain in a specific portion of one knee only. This typically means that instead of unloading this area as they swing to the other side, it has become the focal point for gravity and will eventually become painful.

Without getting too far in to the geeky biomechanics of this cycle, the basics are that when the foot hits the ground it has to fully extend(think pushing the leg behind the body) before we push off and flex (think bringing the knee to the chest) to swing back thru to the next step.

This basic concept of gait is important to understand because it helps us to pinpoint the capability we are lacking. So my question for you is do we have a stance problem or a swing problem?  Take this test to find out and proceed to the next section!

Taking a stand:

So you took the test and you found that you cant extend or adduct your hip. Our first step (cheese balls) is to restore this basic capacity on the ground and then stand up and load this ability against gravity.

Just as a proper warm up prepares the body from slow and simple to more complex and similar to the demands of the activity, we will perform this sequence of exercises back to back twice to send a stronger signal to the body that we need to hold on to this capacity.

Included below is the exercise sequence for your enjoyment:

Perform each exercise for 15 breaths and/or 8 reps or steps.

Shorty Swing My Way:

Earlier I mentioned that as our stance side (on the ground) extends, our swing side (in the air) must flex in order to land in the next step.

The other crucial thing that happens is that as our swing leg moves through the air, we must also abduct or push our body toward the stance leg to fully accept weight on the other side.

I often relate this part to my favorite 90s jam, as every dude understand the pain of getting rejected by the opposite sex as we attempt to dance closer because we don’t have the right moves.

Now imagine the utter despair of this occurring thousands of times a day and you can understand how the knee and/or hip must feel when it becomes the focal point for increased gravitational stress due to an inability to swing off said leg.

If this is the problem you are facing, here is the sequence I recommend (Perform each exercise for 8-12 breaths or 8-12 reps or steps):


So if you are still reading by this point, I truly hope my ramblings make sense. My goal as I learn is to make complex biomechanical things simple and applicable so you can reap the benefits.

Next week, I will discuss how plyometrics and compressive loading strategies (aka landing) play in to becoming a more resilient runner. Until then,

Coach Chris

  • Writer's pictureChris Kelly

Running and walking shouldn’t hurt all the time.  

This is a relatively easy conversation with someone who has picked up a bit of knee pain, but saying this to someone who has experienced a knee replacement or a runner who logs 50+ miles per week is another story entirely.

I am still young and idealistic enough to fantasize that the application of enough knowledge can conquer virtually any problem. But the reality is that sometimes pain is not going away for good. The body develops a story as we age and is more prone to manifesting it in what we perceive as pain.

For example, I have played soccer since I was seven years old. I was introduced to the bench press, squat and the barbell curl at 13. I once threw my back out before a crucial high school soccer game by using too much body English while attempting to curl a new max weight (#stupidgainz)

I now stand for a living and my story is that I experience extension based back when I stand for too long or perform too much of any one activity.

This makes sense because literally everything I have done for the past 30+ years has driven me in to this position. But because I understand the extension based back pain is my issue, I can manage it by giving my body a steady diet of what it lacks (lumbar flexion and hip extension).

I accomplish this by doing a “Daily warm up” and then performing posture reset exercises throughout the day as needed. They don’t take much time and alleviate the need to stretch for hours several days per week (which I wouldn’t do anyway) This is important because it illustrates an important principle for managing pain in virtually any area of the body. Namely- what needs to move that isn’t doing the job?

In this series of article, I will give you examples of case studies of different issues I commonly see. This week I begin with the knee.

My hope is that it provides you a thought process and place to start with whatever issue you may be dealing with.

Ouch, my knee hurts:

Knee pain is something I see a lot in clients that cannot fully lock out or flex their knee. If they knee cannot go thru it’s full range of motion with each step, it’s ability to absorb shock is greatly reduced and we end up getting damage to passive structures such as the ACL, MCL and Meniscus.

I also want to make clear that just because you have a torn ACL, MCL or damage to a meniscus does not equate to experiencing pain. In fact, one study showed that 89% of the population have knee damage that never exhibited pain or symptoms of osteoporosis.

The difference in people with pain is the repetitive movements that lead to one area being over used. For example, if more pain is occurring on one side or the other, chances are we are shifting more weight on to one side versus the other. Keeping this very simple, I am going to provide a set of questions to ask yourself when experiencing knee pain as well as answers below:Can I do these activities with full range of motion? If not, train them via the videos included.

Can I shift my weight fully from side to side (aka can I feel my hamstrings, inner thighs and side abs in this drill?)If no to any of these,

If stuff still hurts or you have further questions which go beyond this article, email me and lets talk.


Feeling and moving better doesn’t have to be super complicated. It just requires a consistent approach. Join me next week as we tackle neck/shoulder pain and until then, be good to one another and don’t curl too heavy!

Until next time,

Coach Chris

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