Road to Kona 2021 with Tim Brydenbach & Tom Mertens

• Written by philip cortvriendt

In this blog post, we will dig deeper into the story of Tim Brydenbach, a Belgian International triathlete, and son of Fons Brydenbach, the former Belgian record holder of the 400m. After a difficult year due to a sacral stress fracture, he is working hard to come back at his former level. His ultimate goal is the world championships Ironman in Kona (Hawaii), the 9th of October. Tom Mertens, Physiotherapist of Kineworks, National football team of Gambia, and Belgian Olympic committee will explain how Runeasi helped him to give objective insights to Tim’s running.

Time to pull the break

Tim had a really difficult year due to ailments and injuries. He did a lot of high-volume running at low intensities. After a long period of training, he felt this training regime was counterproductive to his desired shape. Running didn’t feel fluid anymore. He started to have issues in his pelvis and lower back. Even several check-ups didn’t yield the desired results. A minor ache was first only present directly after training, but then also started to surface also during rest. In that period he developed a stress fracture of the sacrum.That was the moment for us to pull the brake and check what was going on with Tim.

What is causing his pain and injury?

With Tim's story in mind, I wanted to know what was causing Tim's problems. The incidence of running-related injuries is multi-factorial and training error is a major player. But, we didn't observe any major mistakes in his story. So, Why did the low-intensity training gave him problems? Are there any biomechanical problems detectable? According to Tim his lack of hip extension on the left side caused the problem?  With our specific running screening at Kineworks, we wanted to identify the potential factors that cause his pain.

Clinical examination

  • Flexibility deficits posterior chain (mainly right side)
  • Provocative pain and discomfort left hamstring during strength tests
  • Unipedal stability issues on the left side
  • Functional strength and posterior strength weaker on the left side
  • Decreased Reactive strength index on the left side

    Running analysis

    Observable kinematic findings
    • Lower pendulum swing in left leg

    • Observable asymmetry in left arm swing

    Runeasi analysis
    • Slightly increased impact values in left and right side at 14 km/h
    • High asymmetry observed in left peak rate at 14 km/h
    • Decreased impact and peak rate values from 14 km/h to 16 km/h 
    • Improved asymmetry with overhead running

    There is a high imbalance in the peak rate of loading on the left side during 14 km/h, which was slow running for Tim. This stresses the left side of the sacrum more, which could be an explanation for his overuse injury of the sacrum. Running faster did influence the running mechanics positively, which confirms Tim's feeling. Adding more quality (higher velocity) training into his training plan could provide a good stimulus to a better running form. 

    "The insights of Runeasi enabled us to confirm what we suspected with objective data" - Tom

    We saw a trunk rotational compensation on his left side. That's why we tried the overhead running and how this could influence his running mechanics. Amazingly, we saw no relative differences anymore in the impact, peak rate, dynamic instability and ground contact time. This confirms that changing one body segment can influence another. In Tim's case, trunk rotations play an important role in his body's asymmetry.

    What to work on

    With the information we have from now, we will place our main focus on;

    • General flexibility of the posterior chain, with focus on right side
    • Unipodal balance training
    • Rotational core training 
    • Posterior chain (Gluteal muscles, hamstring) activation and reinforcement of the left side. 
    • Reactive impact training left side
    • Advice: less volume more intensity running

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