Common Technical Errors in Runners – Why Analyse Gait?

25th March 2015

Many runners run without considering the potential negative effects that running may have on the skeletal system (bones, joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments). Running technique has direct impact on the extent of damage that may be caused by running.

Whilst running, our entire body is active, making head to toe technical motion important. An ideal and injury limiting running technique requires specific strength, stability and most importantly control.

Runners are prone to muscle imbalances, which lead to loss of stability and therefore loss of control – potentially causing a dangerous run technique that may lead to injury. Runners’ muscle imbalances most commonly include muscle weakness/tightness. These imbalances cause joint instability and an uncontrolled running technique, causing increased impact on the skeletal system and therefore injury.

There are general rehabilitation programs which include muscle strengthening and stretching exercises that target those muscles that are prone to weakness and tightness in runners. These exercises are great for technique maintainence. However, in order to be able to have specific rehabilitation that is suited to your individual self, a running assessment carried out by a professional would be ideal.

At Function360 we consider running gait analysis to be an imperative part of the assessment and rehabilitation process for any uninjured or injured runner. The aim of running analysis is to identify an individuals ‘bad habits’ and muscle imbalances, and specifically target these findings throughout rehabilitation. This individualised process optimises the running technique, limiting risk of injury and skeletal damage – which is what every runner wants.

Interestingly, there are some technical errors commonly found in runners – and I am about to let you in on the most common ones. It is important to consider that although some of the same technical errors are common, their causes may vary. Identifying your own technical errors is the starting point to a successful future of running. Knowing the cause of these technical errors, and correcting them, is the key for long term successful running – this is where a professional comes in handy.

The Most Common Technical Errors in Runners:

1. Excess upper body motion – most commonly being rotation of the shoulders and trunk.
2. Hip hitching.
3. Excess pelvic rotation.
4. Knees verging in towards one another.
5. Excess and uncontrolled knee extension – the knee gets flicked into an overly straight position.
6. Slamming of the heels onto the ground when landing.
7. Foot rotating and pointing out to the side when lifting off the floor.
8. Uncontrolled foot placement.

As stated previously, these are the most common running errors. These errors are not the same in all runners and their cause is definitely varied from runner to runner.

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