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Reduce running injuries by improving running technique

We continue to see a lot of runners with gyms being closed and many of you took up our recent offer of Run Fit assessment plus initial treatment session. Our running screening is becoming more and more popular and does help to identify where you may sustain an injury as you progress with your running. More of our customers also want to know about running periodisation and running technique, so I hope some of the periodisation tips I shared in my previous email were useful.

In terms of running technique there are some tips that I share with my running clients. A study looking at the running pattern of 72 injured runners compared to 36 healthy runners demonstrated that injured runners had the following:

When viewed from behind

  • More dropping of the swing leg side of the pelvis at mid stance,
  • Increased stance leg hip adduction at mid stance (Image A below).

The most common types of running faults

The most important variable for predicting injury status was the pelvic drop on the swing leg at mid stance. For every 1° increase in pelvic drop there was an 80% increase in the chance of being injured. This can very easily be observed when you watch somebody run, but can also be seen in very simple movements such as hopping and single leg squatting. The more the opposite side of your pelvis drops as you move the more chance of getting injured when you run. This is often caused by glute weakness and we can assess this with strength testing of the affected muscles.

When viewed from the side

  • More forward lean at the trunk,
  • Increased knee extension at heel strike / initial contact,
  • Increased dorsiflexion at heel strike / initial contact (Image A below).

These faults usually signify over striding. A study of 12 runners found that increasing step rate by 10% using either a metronome and / or GPS watch lead to improvements in running pattern at four weeks that one maintained for at least three months.

So this doesn’t mean that you have to run faster to increase your step rate, but should shorten your stride length. A single session of this type of gait retraining has been shown to improve pain and function in runners with kneecap pain.

We often get asked about which is the best type of foot strike pattern to use when running as many people have read that changing to a forefoot stride pattern is bette for speed and performance. A systematic review of 53 studies demonstrated that moving from a rear foot strike pattern to a non-rear foot strike pattern did not appear to be beneficial for running economy and may even result in a short-term decrease in running economy.

In terms of injury risk a non-rear foot strike pattern may reduce load at the knee and therefore reduce knee injuries, but appears likely to increase loading in the calf and Achilles potentially increasing the risk of calf strain and Achilles tendinopathy. Therefore we can assume from thees studies that there is not necessarily any need to change your habitual strike pattern for another when considering injury risk or performance.

We can help you if you are suffering from a running injury or if you are training for an event or just wanting to get out and run more and want to prevent an injury. Our Run Fit assessment will be perfect for you….

About Wandsworth Physiotherapy

infoAt Wandsworth Physiotherapy and Osteopathy we are focused on getting you out of pain and back to what you love doing. Whether it's playing with your kids or simply being able to sit on the train comfortably; whether it's being able to get back into the gym class or to run 5k again; whether it's to banish the Tena Lady or being able to lift your child without pain our expert physiotherapists and osteopaths are here to help.