Running form and running injuries; some helpful advice on how to reduce the likelihood of injury.
Running form, or lack of is one of those great mysteries that has been linked to running injuries. To do a low tech evaluation on yourself, all you really need is a cell phone video camera, a good eye for what proper form is and the willingness to evaluate yourself. Our patients know this because we use this technology in our offices, which runners have found to be quite helpful, especially as we give them pointers on how to improve their form which are seen and heard on a follow-up video. The nice thing is we can then text or email the videos back to the person for them to refer to over and over.
Of course, there is more to running form than just examining yourself, and often, an outsider who is more objective than you may be can be quite helpful. They may suggest some care that is required, exercises or perhaps other modifications to a learned form that needs to be relearned in a more appropriate fashion. I believe, based on working with hundreds of runners that often our natural running form is a response to our body mechanics and how we learned to use our unique body mechanics against the forces of gravity.
Asymmetry in the gait cycle is the enemy of runners, since it is often the reason we develop injuries in the first place. Asymmetry causes over and under striding both in the lower and upper body, which strains joints and creates the unequal distribution of forces from the ground up. Here is a great blog that can give you some insight into what you may look for and offers a few different exercises you may be able to use to help improve your running form.
What’s wrong with your running form? The devil’s in the details
Special to The Globe and Mail Published
For runners, the definition of folly is repeating exactly the same motion 10,000 times an hour and expecting not to get injured.
That’s the thinking behind standard advice to vary the terrain you run on, alternate between different pairs of shoes and mix different forms of cross-training into your routine. The more you mix it up, the less likely any given body part will break down.
But as high-tech gait analysis systems reveal increasingly subtle details about how we run, a more complicated picture is emerging. For some injured runners, too much stride-to-stride variability may be the problem. They may have muscle weaknesses or imbalances that allow their hips, knees and ankles to wobble in slightly different directions with each stride – and the solution is rehab exercises that produce a more consistent stride.
In this case, the goal is “a more predictable movement pattern,” explains Dr. Reed Ferber, a top biomechanics researcher and head of the University of Calgary’s Running Injury Clinic. “The body knows what to expect for the upcoming footfall, and the muscles can adjust accordingly.”
Ferber’s research relies on a sophisticated 3-D gait analysis system that uses multiple video cameras to capture and analyze every detail of a subject’s running motion. The system is now deployed at more than two-dozen labs and clinics around the world (for a list, see runninginjuryclinic.com), and Ferber has a database of thousands of runners to compare results with.
He initially expected that the database would reveal simple relationships between stride abnormalities and running injuries – knee pain might result from too much hip rotation, for example. But no matter how much data he collected, these links remained elusive.