Working with Function360- one year on

Friday, September 28, 2018

I can't believe it has been 1 year since I started working with Function360.  For this that don't know, this performance innovation centre is based near Moorgate Station in Central London and offer many different types of services (osteopathy, physiotherapy, sports therapy, corrective exercise, dry needling, myofascial release etc).  They fully supported my two year plan of a Boston Qualifying (BQ) time from day one.  Now that we are halfway to that goal (eek!), here is how they have helped me over the last year:

Phase One: Gait analysis, initial strength/movement assessment then prescribed corrective exercise

My first appointment at Function360 was to have a gait analysis.  Last summer, I really struggled with pain in my feet and Achilles.  The BQ goal was delayed by a year because of this.  The info gathered during this appointment fed into my runner-focused strength training plan.  There were a few imbalances identified that if addressed could reduce my risk of injury given my activity levels.

Nearly every Thursday morning from October to December 2017, I would work with a corrective exercise specialist team member from Function360 to strengthen my key running muscles- glutes, hamstrings, and core.  When we started, I was unable to do a 'bird dog' but was soon progressing to a more challenging posture.  We also worked on improving my squat technique and hip mobility.  My Achilles needed this more than anything as I was just recovering from a bad flair up of tendinopathy during the summer of 2017.

Bird dog in my garden

I tried my best to complete my exercise regimes at home in addition to our weekly sessions.  Once I was stronger, we cut back to meeting once every other week while I completed two to three more sessions on my own. The exercises were chosen based on what my body needed to improve strength, in addition to what kit I had available at home (exercise bands, dumbbells, steps, and a yoga mat).  I could tell they wanted me to succeed by working with kit and time limitations.

Doing my stretches at work on a break

Phase Two: More core. 
At the start of the 2018, I was assigned to Ben (a physio and rehab specialist) who did another assessment to monitor my progress.  I told him about the niggles I was still getting in my hips and glutes and he prescribed a new set of exercises.  I met with him monthly to receive a new program and to check in on any issues I was having.  I was already in the habit of setting aside 30 minutes a few times a week for my exercises, so this worked for me and my schedule.

Psoas march

Phase Three: Maintenance and recovery

This summer, as my marathon training started up, my sessions with Ben were mostly sports massages.  We had discussed previously how I would manage the strength training alongside weekly mileage requirements.  There just isn't enough time in the day!  He was confident that I had a good baseline level of strength to work off of.

One thing I had missed in my previously marathon training cycles was the regular rest and recovery.  I tended to only get sports massages after I couldn't stand the pain in my periformis anymore.   It is so important to maintain your body with rest and recovery, not just blast it with HIIT sessions all the time.  This lesson has taken my years to learn.

Sports massage with Ben.
Sports massages are necessarily 'relaxing' (I have zeo pain tolerance) but chatting with Ben is a good distraction as he works on tense muscles in my legs and back.

Phase Four:  Life after the marathon
After the NYC Marathon in November, I plan on taking a step back from cardio and looking at my body imbalances again. I now have a gym membership and will focus on weight training in addition to revisiting the Function360 programs I have.  Ben and I haven't talked about what approach to take yet but I am sure we will come up with something achievable that will produce my desired BQ in 2019.

Bonus appointments: Emergencies
Function360 has been fantastic at getting me in when I am panicking about a new pain weeks before a race.  For example, I had developed a (what I thought was) random hip pain in late January.  I was training for Mount Kilimanjaro and had a 10K race coming up.  Jordan, the company director and physio therapist, kept me calm as we went through a thorough medical history and assessment of the pain and my posture.  She decided I needed some dry needling only to discover a huge bruise on my hip from a fall I had while camping.  We concluded that fall probably knocked my body out alignment temporarily.  Ben is easy to reach via email or Instagram if I have questions about my exercises or a little niggle.  Most recently, I was starting to develop 'maranoia' when my neck hurt during a spin class.  An osteo appointment with Victor made me feel much better because he didn't find any serious issues and he did a few manipulations to release some joints in my neck and back.

Dry needling

The proof is in the pudding really.  Is all this hard work paying off?  Since I began working with Function360 a year ago, I have:

  • run a sub 25 minute 5K in May
  • improved my 400m time from 2:00 to 1:40
  • increased flexibility in my hips and hamstrings
  • reduced my Achilles pain
  • become a more confident runner

Are you ready to achieve these things too?  I wish I knew this could happen for me years ago.  I would have started much sooner (and stuck with it!).  If you have committed to putting in the miles, I can tell you targeted strength training will make a world of difference to your  running performance.

Function360 is kindly offering my readers 15% discount on their first visit with code #F360MM15.  If you pay them a visit, please let me know how it goes in the comments below.  Everyone on the team is fantastic.  You will be in good hands no matter who you see.

Thanks to Function360 for the complimentary services.  All opinions are honest and my own.

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