Running issues? Look outside the foot!

Updated: May 1, 2019




Running pain? Running injury? We solve many running issues. Our clients have often spent years and lots of money trying to fix their injury, but they still have problems. So what is our secret? No secret really, we just look at the whole body bio-mechanically.


Imagine your running client goes into the running shop for a new pair of shoes. They get a "gait analysis" and they are given a new set of shoes, but this gait analysis only looks at the foot. Most running problems involve far more than the foot. When a running shop looks at the foot it will, in the vast majority of people, conclude that the foot pronates, or collapses inwards. Now this is not surprising, the modern human generally has very weak feet. We wear shoes all day and wearing shoes supports the foot. Like any area of the body, if it is constantly supported, the muscles don't need to work and the area gets weak, this often shows as a pronated foot. Now there are many ways to fix this that don't include supportive footwear but that is not a discussion for today. Try to consider the whole body and not just the foot when you watch your runner clients. Let's explore how to do this.


In our clinic, we use the video package Coaches Eye. We video our client running and slow down the movements so we can see exactly what is occurring. Why do we use Coaches Eye and not some other package, well: It is relatively cheap, it works!, isn't overly complex and has surprisingly good resolution at low light levels, which other packages we have tried didn't.


So what do we look for. Well I always look at the pelvis first, does this drop when the foot hits the floor and the load starts to run through the supporting leg. If it does, this suggests to me that I need to check the core strength, pelvis position and firing patterns down the leg. So, I will check the firing patterns of the gluteus muscles, hamstring muscles and lower back muscles, to make sure they are each firing at the correct time.


I will then check how the knee reacts to the loading, is it collapsing medially? If it is I will check out the foot, is it pronated? If the foot pronates, the knee will collapse medially as a bio-mechanical response to this. This in turn will cause the gluteus muscles to fire to try to realign the knee, resulting in overworking and often eventually weak gluteus muscles.


Next, I will take a look at the torso, are they rotating properly at the torso when they run. You do need to rotate when you run, otherwise you get far from ideal forces through the lower back and running efficiency becomes compromised. Do they have protracted shoulders and neck? If so their centre of balance will be hugely compromised, they will find it hard to take a deep breath in and they probably won't be rotating at the torso, because it is very hard to rotate when you are protracted in the shoulders.


I will then go back to the lower body. Do they cross their legs over when they run as though they were running on a tightrope? If they are doing this on one leg only I would be wondering why they are doing this, as they aren't using their gluteus muscles correctly if this is the case and gluteus muscles are very important for stability of the hip, especially when running.


Of course we also look at the foot and how it strikes the ground but that is for another day!


So what I am trying to say is that there is much, much more to running gait than simply the foot. If this was of interest we have a Bitesize CPD on Runners Knee and a one day workshop where we look teach you how to analyse running gait from top to toe.



If you are using this for CPD, have a go at analysing your running client on your phone or ipad using coaches Eye and see what you find out. Then write it all up in your logbook. To download your FREE Reinge Education Logbook, click here and subscribe to our website.

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