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  • Writer's picturePursuit of Motion Physiotherapists

The Rundown on Running Mechanics

“Ground reaction force (the force you strike the ground with) can be up to 250% of body weight while running.”

As the weather continues to improve, we are all eager to get outside and stay active! This could include running, whether you do it for fun, to be active, or to train for an upcoming event. One important factor in running is the mechanics, or how you are running. Proper running mechanics can help prevent running injuries and any running pain, to allow you to keep training throughout the summer!

Running involves many major muscle groups and requires a great deal of balance, muscle strength, and joint range of motion. Due to the repetitive nature of long-distance running overuse injuries are most common.

Certain running techniques can also lead to injury due to the increased loading on joints. When training for a big race, it is important to invest in your health to ensure that you are in your best shape on race day and can avoid/rehab injuries that could impact your training.

What can a physio do for you?

  • Assess and adjust running gait to improve form and help reduce the risk of overuse injuries

  • Address muscle imbalances and develop a program to help avoid injury

  • Rehab any current injuries and create a rehab program to help avoid re-injury

GAIT Retraining

After your physiotherapist assesses your running mechanics, there are a few GAIT retraining methods they may utilize.

The first is visual feedback on running technique. This is effective in changing mechanical patterns around the hip and pelvis. Your physio will look out for:

  • Contralateral pelvic drop

  • Reducing hip adduction and internal rotation angles

  • Decreasing impact if you are landing with heavy feet

The second GAIT retraining method includes a change to your cadence/step rate. This includes:

  • Using a metronome to increase step rate per minute. Increasing the step rate by 10% using a metronome is an effective way to increase your pace also help reduce the occurrence of contralateral pelvic drop, hip adduction, internal hip rotation, and reduce patellofemoral pain (runners’ knee). This allows you to increase running volume and have a longer pain-free running distance

Lastly, changing your foot strike pattern is another way your physiotherapist might change your running mechanics. This includes:

  • Switch from rearfoot to forefoot strike pattern

  • Landing on the ball of your foot, trying to make a softer sound when you land – this helps increase breaking forces and reduce impact forces on the joints – this helps reduce calf/achilles injuries, patellofemoral pain, and wear and tear on the joints

Ensure you gradually transition into any new type of running motor pattern, as it can cause other unexpected injuries. GAIT retraining is best done under the supervision of a physiotherapist.

As always, feel free to contact us with any questions about running and related injuries. If you would like to discuss running mechanics or if you have a nagging injury, book in with one of our awesome physiotherapists!


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