I was recently invited by my friends at Asics to their flagship Oxford Street store to undergo a full body analysis in their running lab. Presiding over the shop floor in a glass fronted mezzanine gallery, they clearly take this seriously given that the investment in the mechanised kit alone is a 6-figure sum, not to mention the expertise needed to operate it and interpret the output. That task fell to Andrew Tew, a professional Sports Scientist who operates this facility full time to help people get the best out of their bodies during physical activity. At £200, it’s a costly up-front investment, but in light of what it involves and what you get out of it, I think that price tag is not expensive. Click MORE below to see my full write-up of what you learn about your body…
Everyone’s run is different, as is their body (bone structure, musculature, joint strength), so asking for a ‘textbook’ run is maybe a bit unreasonable. However there are some lazy, uneducated habits within most people’s run movements (guilty!) that are unnecessary – they waste energy and could lead to injury. By empirical discovery, you can start working on them.
For total beginners, established gym-rats and Olympians alike, this process of data gathering strips away years of guesswork and ego, and leaves you with a core level of knowledge based on 23 pages of data and personal stats, from which to build. It’s absolutely not just for super-elite athletes, but reveals practical information about how YOU, specifically, should exercise in the most effective and sustainable way. A relatively small investment in this knowledge now can save years of pain further down the line. It’s just another downpayment into your body’s health pension! Indeed, just the ‘anaerobic threshold test’ at those cycle shops who offer it will cost £160. This includes far more, over a 2.5 hour window, for practically the same cost.
For someone about to undertake thousands of miles of marathon training, this is an essential ‘form analysis’. As humans, we’re never taught how to run, but we’d certainly be taught how to play tennis, or golf. Typically a runner’s performance is measured on two axes – speed and distance. At Asics the ‘Running Ability Measurement’ use a total of six factors to calculate how you can optimise your run, and reduce associated injuries. Here’s how it looks;
1. MEASURING FOOT SHAPE
Using a INFOOT 3D foot scanner it calculates 7 dimensions (such as the length & circumference of the foot, arch height, heel height, heel angle) before making a comparison by age and sex. The reason behind mapping the foot is that it’s the platform off which your running is based, and this gives an idea of its physiological strengths & weaknesses before you even start to run. In combination with the following data points, it gives them a far deeper understanding of your running anatomy.
2. MEASURING LEG ALIGNMENT
Checking leg alignment can determine the range of motion in your leg joints. Substantial differences in these dimensions can cause unstable horizontal alignment, which is to be avoided, generally. Once again this maps the physiological contours along the leg.
3. CHECKING ANKLE FLEXIBILITY Lateral and vertical flexibility in the ankle joints, charted and measured.
4. MEASURING BODY COMPOSITION
Asics use a bio-electrical impedance analysis to calculate what percentage or the body is made up of muscle, fat and bone. The machine is far more advanced than anything you might have seen at your local gym. It measures body fat percentage by sending minute electrical currents (with a more diverse frequency range) through your body. The breadth of information it yields is quite impressive (think weight, fat%, fat mass, muscle mass, BMI, Bone mass, visceral fat evaluation, physique ratings, fat ratings, muscle mass ratings…)
5. MEASURING MUSCULAR STRENGTH & BALANCE
The test uses an isokinetic training device which measures how much strength you can exert against a lever moving at a constant speed. They test this because running can exert a load of as much as two to three times your bodyweight on a single leg as it comes into contact with the ground! Therefore an awareness of your degree of muscular strength is crucial to see how you hold up in the run! They also check for right-left balance, as well as the ratio of knee flexion/extension.
6. VIDEO GAIT ANALYSIS
Having a pair of objective, very knowledgeable eyes, a live, multi-angle video recording, and respirometer evaluating your running form is a real treat! By determining your foot landing position, leg movement & lower back position, vertical motion etc, Asics can form a constructive critique of your style to skill you with the tools to improve your run. There’s also a measurement of endurance, by testing your respiratory metabolism, which allows continuous recording of data without the person having to perform all-out sprints.
You take away a 23-page customised report, written by Andrew, filled with a tailored analysis covering all of the above. The qualitative report is what helps you to interpret the measurements, and to begin to translate what you’ve seen on the screens and charts. They also include a reference textbook on ‘Running Science’ to help understand the logic behind some of the suggestions. Everyone’s results will yield something different, so I won’t run into what mine showed – needless to say, I’ll be making some tweaks!
I’d like to thank Asics & Andrew for the incredibly insightful day; I’ve walked away having gained a lot of practical knowledge
If you’d like to get a similar evaluation from Asics, you can book in using the following contact details: