As part of your Physical Therapy treatment a running analysis is essential for us to know if you are demonstrating symmetry and good body mechanics. While it is not always appropriate to perform a running analysis on the first session or right after an injury, a short video of one’s typical running pattern can give us a lot of information! Some aspects can be changed simply by strengthening or stretching while other components take a little more finesse to change. Just because you were injured does not mean you need a change to your running mechanics, nor does one need to change if they have never been injured. However, certain key elements can be adjusted if other conservative options have failed or not achieved 100% of one’s goals to return to running.
Here are some of the items that we look for when performing a video running analysis on someone:
- Footstrike/ Sound
- Step Rate/ Stride Length
- Pelvic drop
- Trunk /arm movements
This is a controversial topic amongst runners so let’s just talk about the evidenced based facts. We can break down your footstrike into either forefoot, midfoot or heel strike patterns. Forefoot running has gotten a lot of buzz along with the barefoot running craze. If we look at the science behind it, we know that landing on the forefoot can help to decrease forces and use of the muscles in the front of the lower leg which may be helpful for those suffering from shin splints or medial tibial stress syndrome. Conversely, landing with a heel strike can help reduces Achilles tendon force which may be helpful for those suffering from Achilles tendonitis/tendonopathy. Altering one’s footstrike does not always need to be done just because they were injured. However, it can be something to adjust if needed to reduce force on certain muscles.
Step rate or “cadence” is considered the number of steps one takes per a given speed. It is a simple calculation of speed= Step rate x stride length. Research has shown that by increasing ones “step rate’ by as little as 5-10% above their preferred, can decrease loading forces on the hip, knee, and Achilles. In order to do this, one typically has to decrease their stride length. These are parameters that may help to alter if you are prone to injury.
When one strikes the ground we often look at the individuals pelvis or “belt line”. If we see one or both pelvis drop below a neutral horizontal line this could indicate hip weakness. The hips are the steering wheel for the knee and if your pelvis drops, your hips rotate inward toward your midline. This then causes your knee to dive in toward your midline and can also cause your foot to pronate or roll inward as well. Weakness in the hips or lack of good mechanics at the hips can also predispose one to injury.
Often overlooked, the position of your trunk and arms can affect your ability to propel forward. If you are not bringing your hands back far enough, it could create unnecessary rotational side to side movement rather than helping to drive your hips backward. If you lack movement in your thoracic spine or your mid back you may have an uneven arm swing, which can be seen during observation of running.
By now you have probably realized that it takes a lot of different body parts to be moving correctly to have good running form! Research shows that most people who think they have an idea of how their running form is, are actually incorrect. Let us at 3DPT help you take a look at what is actually happening when you run and get you back to your best training yet!