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Running Assessments


November 3, 2021

Running assessments are vital for any runner. Running is not always an inherent technique and often times we need to modify how we are running for a variety of different reasons.

Injuries occur when there is an imbalance between tissue tolerance and applied loads experienced by the body. Runner’s mechanics significantly influence the extent of loading applied to the musculoskeletal system.

Evidence supports that changing your running mechanics can help resolve pain and reduce certain injury risk factors.

Running biomechanics can be described using 3 categories:

  1. Spatiotemporal: basic measurements of a runner’s stride: cadence and step length for example.

  2. Kinetics: cause of movement such as forces, power and energy associated with running.

  3. Kinematics: refers to body segments and their positions such as knee flexion

Measuring kinetics outside of a lab isn’t possible. Luckily, kinematic measurements can give us great insight into ground reaction forces, aka kinetics, without requiring all of that fancy lab equipment.

Here are the top three goals when looking to change someone’s running mechanics

  1. Warding off injury: we know that certain run features can contribute to increased risk of certain musculoskeletal injuries. Global indicators of injury are higher vertical GRF loading rates and poor lower limb dynamic alignments. Examples of poor lower limb alignment associated with injuries are increased hip adduction, internal rotation and pelvic drop.

  2. Shift load away from injured tissue: A common example is changing cadence and stride length, which shifts load from the knee to the foot and ankle while allowing the knee to heal up.

  3. Improve performance: misalignment of limbs can cause you to work harder and we want to work smarter not harder. The more you can reduce extra movement and decrease ground contact time the more efficient your running will be, meaning you will use less energy to perform the same amount of work. We also want good alignment to allow the shock to be absorbed through your muscles and tendons giving you better elastic recoil. When you fix problems and retrain your body to move well, you also allow for greater performance. Simply saying better movement = more power, more speed and greater endurance.

It is important to monitor your running by getting running assessments every so often to make sure you are running as efficiently and safely as possible.

References: Alschuler, K. Alberts, N. (2020) Clinical Care of the Runner: assessment, biomechanical principles and injury management. Elsevier