Running- what could go wrong?

Running is one type of exercise which does have a high prevalence of injury. There are a multitude of symptoms which could occur, including foot, knee, hip and lower back discomfort. There are also a large variety of causes of these symptoms, which we are looking at today.

So how do we look at running styles?

We can monitor running style using videoing, and be able to determine the exact positioning of the feet and hips upon impact. This can allow us to determine the possible causes of someone’s symptoms when running, and therefore provide targeted advice or exercises to improve it.

How does bad running technique cause symptoms?

Not everyone with bad technique will have any symptoms, but it is common for it to occur if running persists. With altered running style, the impact forces on the ground which transfer up the body when running can be quite significant. This over time and repetition, can lead to dysfunction of muscles and pain.

Common running mistakes:

The overstrider:

Overstriding refers to landing on an outstretched heel, rather than the foot landing underneath the knee and slightly in front of the hip. It is an inefficient form of running due to the body needing to slow down, and counteract the increased forces from the ground from the heavy impact. This commonly presents as anterior knee pain or tibial stress syndrome. You can read more about the specific role of overstriding here.

The collapser:

This is often viewed from behind, and see as a ‘trendelenberg gait’ where the pelvis does not stay level on single leg stance. The pelvis will often drop, and the knee will cave in towards the other knee. Common causes can be related to lower back and pelvic control, or stiffness in the ankle. This commonly presents as anterior knee pain or lateral hip pain with running. If you’re a runner you may feel this as your knees knocking together or kicking your shins when you’re running. You can see in the picture below how training correctly can improve your running pattern.


The weaver:

Weaving refers to legs that cross the midline when running which creates a very narrow base of support. This can result in a similar presentation as the collapser, and can present as lateral hip or ITB dysfunction, as well as increased tibial stress. Some people may only have one side that weaves, and it will often be the symptomatic side. This can be a combination of muscular weakness, or habit. Notice in the picture to the right the similar hip presentation as above, but note how the feet on the right picture are close to the right side of the body.

The bouncer:

Bouncing refers to increased movement upwards when running, rather than forwards. This is another great way to waste energy when running. It can also result in a heavy landing, and increase ground forces and joint load. Common injuries/symptoms relate mainly to tibial stress and calf/achilles overuse.

The leaner:

You will notice some people when running tend to lean backwards. These are often the people who don’t have large posterior muscles (gluteals), which results in increased pressure in the anterior, but also posterior structures. Working on gluteal and trunk strength is the best fix for this.

So there are just a few of the common mistakes we see when running. Keep an eye out for a blog talking about exercises to work on running strength soon. If you think you do any of these, or experience discomfort with running, feel free to book in with one of our physiotherapists here.


Book Arana Hills Physio Online