Jeff Plotzke looks like a runner—lean with springy energy, someone who knows his own body and likes to push its limits.
Plotzke wants to improve his running time. He's starting marathons and hopes to go faster and develop a more efficient gait, so he's asked the experts at the U-M Michigan Performance Research Laboratory (MiPR) to help him notch it up.
Athletes of all levels, from marathoners like Plotzke to casual joggers, take their running seriously, and this is the crowd that the lab will cater to.
It's not the analysis you get when you buy running shoes, when the salesperson videotapes your gait as you run on the store treadmill. The lab is part of the School of Kinesiology and four individualized packages are offered: postpartum, injury, novice and performance.
Plotzke's assessment will take roughly two hours and includes postural, functional, footwear and musculoskeletal assessments by a physical therapist, and a full-body, 3D running gait and footprint pressure analysis.
"I think one of the benefits of this analysis is taking complex information and distilling it down to something that's meaningful to the weekend warrior," said Jessica Deneweth Zendler, lab director and assistant research scientist. "We're very conscious of not making it a novelty, but making it useful to people."