Why every runner should get a biomechanical assessment

Why every runner should get a biomechanical assessment

How a biomechanical assessment could save you a running injury

In-depth biomechanical assessments and running technique analysis aren’t just for the professionals. Running puts varying levels of stress on different parts of the body and can exacerbate existing conditions or lead to overuse injuries if your biomechanics are sub-optimal. At Lane Cove Physio, our Sports Specialist Physiotherapists are experts in working with novice and experienced runners who want to improve their technique, biomechanics, performance, efficiency and ultimately prevent running injuries before they occur.

Whether you are currently experiencing pain while running, looking for advice on starting a running program or wanting advice on how to stay injury free while running, a sports physio is the best place to begin your journey.

Why is running technique analysis important?

Running is one of the best forms of exercise and one of the most popular activities amongst our clients. Unfortunately injuries are common for runners, especially overuse injuries of the lower limb. In fact, out of all of the aerobic exercises, runners report the highest rate of overuse injuries.[1] These injuries are usually multi-factorial with a combination of biomechanical problems, muscle imbalances and technique related issues commonly contributing to the cause of pain.[2] Thankfully, these factors can be modified and a sports specialist physio is professionally trained to detect biomechanical faults which can predispose you to injury.

Research indicates that biomechanical running assessments can not only help runners improve their times and run more efficiently but it can also help prevent common running injuries such as[3]:

  • Runners knee
  • Iliotibial band friction syndrome
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Patellofemoral pain syndromes
  • Shin pain
  • Low back pain
  • Hamstring muscle strains

Who can benefit from a running technique analysis?

A biomechanical assessment and running technique analysis is designed to assist runners of all levels; from total beginner to fun runners and of course, the elite marathon runner. The key benefit of a running technique analysis is that it can be individually designed to observe and treat a current injury as well as ultimately to prevent the occurrence of running injuries you may be predisposed to suffering due to biomechanical or technique reasons.

Biomechanical assessments and running technique analysis are designed to identify:

  • How you run – the intricacies of your technique including foot placement and gait analysis
  • If there is any joint stiffness, muscle imbalance or tightness that is affecting your technique
  • If you lack control or suffer from muscle weakness in any key areas

What happens at a running assessment with a sports physio?

Biomechanical assessments and running technique analysis is a multi step process. When you first attend your running assessment your physio will discuss with you your running goals, current and past training experience and delve into your relevant injury history. During your initial session your Lane Cove sports physio will perform a detailed biomechanical assessment that looks at muscle control, flexibility and running technique. Running technique is a main contributor to running injuries and there are a number of things your physio will observe about your technique. For example, determining which of the three different foot strikes you use can help your physio pinpoint potential trouble spots:

  • Midfoot strike: heel and ball of the foot strike the ground simultaneously
  • Heel strike: initial contact with the ground occurs at the heel
  • Forefoot strike: initial contact with the ground occurs at the ball of the foot

Running injuries are seldom sudden. They are more often than not overuse injuries caused or exacerbated by repetitive impact and strain. Common injuries such as plantar fasciitis, muscle strains, tendinitis and shin splints all fall into the category of overuse injuries. Even professional athletes can have muscle imbalances and even novice runners can benefit from an in depth running technique assessment. Running encompasses much more than just the quads, calves and hamstrings. Things such as core strength, hip movement and lower back health also play a part in impacting form and in the development of overuse injuries. This is why assessing your running biomechanics is so important.

[1] Peter Francis, Chris Whatman, Kelly Sheerin, Patria Hume, Mark I. Johnson. (2019) The Proportion of Lower Limb Running Injuries by Gender, Anatomical Location and Specific Pathology: A Systematic Review. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (18), 21 – 31.

[2] Gabriel Gijon-Nogueron and Marina Fernandez-Villarejo (2015) Risk Factors and Protective Factors for Lower-Extremity Running Injuries. Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association: November 2015, Vol. 105, No. 6, pp. 532-540.

[3] Chan, Zoe & Zhang, Janet & Au, Ivan & An, Winko & Shum, Gary & Ng, Gabriel & Cheung, Roy. (2017). Gait Retraining for the Reduction of Injury Occurrence in Novice Distance Runners: 1-Year Follow-up of a Randomized Controlled Trial. The American Journal of Sports Medicine. 46. 036354651773627. 10.1177/0363546517736277.