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Biomechanics of running

I’d like to talk to you about something we often see in clinic and that is running or sports related running injuries. These are common in both the experienced athlete and those new to a sport or fitness regime.

Often patients will present with a wide variety of complaints e.g.

  • Muscle and tendon injuries,
  • Lower back pain,
  • Hip pain,
  • Knee injuries,
  • Foot and ankle injuries such as planter fasciitis.

When patients come to see us they often ask ‘what shoes should I wear’ or ‘what stretches should I do’ to prevent further injury or aid rehabilitation. When we assess a patient a common finding is weak glute muscles.

Whilst these are all important factors to consider, it often isn’t as simple as just ‘do this stretch before exercise’, ‘change to this pair of shoes’ or solely trying to strengthen one’s glutes. Whilst good, focusing on one ‘fix’ usually isn’t enough in itself to prevent injury.

To gain further understanding and to help patients further I completed some training earlier this year with a company called The Running School. This focused on the biomechanical analysis, rehabilitation and reeducation of the running gait.

This experience highlighted how multifaceted running injuries and rehabilitation are and how necessary it is to access each person as a whole rather than look at the injured area in isolation. For example arm position and arm movement can hugely impact the whole body during running.

 

To summaries some key points when accessing sports injuries, we need to:

  1. Access you as a whole. We achieve this by observing your running gait from behind and side on. This allows us to assess for any asymmetry or imbalance in your lower and upper extremities as well as through the trunk and torso.
  2. Observe and assess your muscle strength and activation through a series of simple movement exercises. This may help explain the movement patterns we found during the running gait analysis and explain why the specific injury you have occurred in the first instance.
  3. Observe some simple repeated movement patterns, which may further highlight imbalances and poor patterning.

Having gathered this information it allows us to further understand why your injury may have occurred and how to correct it properly, thereby lessening the chance of relapse in future.

Key points to remember when running:

  1. A good warm up which engages anterior and posterior muscle chain prior to setting off.
  2. At least once a week try to fit in some conditioning/strength training. Not just lower extremity but involving core and upper body too.
  3. Posture/form when running is hugely important in establishing efficient movement patterns and preventing injury.
  4. Good post exercise nutrition to aid recovery.

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