A new study from The University of Salford’s Running Performance Clinic claims that many individuals who face running injuries may be influenced by ‘simple’ technique errors.
The American Journal of Sports Medicine looked at the technique of runners who were injury free compared to runners who were injured, with some of the complaints being runner’s knee, shin splints and Achilles tendinopathy. Author of the study, PhD researcher and physiotherapist Chris Bramah, said, “For any runner, time off due to injury is incredibly frustrating. What we wanted to do with the study is to identify where there were aspects of running tech that may be contributing to these injuries. If so, we can hopefully use this information to help runners recover from injury and prevent injuries happening.”
The team used 3D infrared cameras to analyse the running style of 72 runners suffering some of the more common complaints – patellofemoral pain (runner’s knee), medial tibial stress syndrome (shin splints), iliotibial band syndrome, and Achilles tendinopathy. They then compared their technique to that of 36 runners who had never suffered a common running over-use injury.
What they found among those injured were ‘common biomechanical patterns’ that were different to the injury-free runners. These included an outstretched leg and high foot angle at initial contact, as well as greater forward lean. But the biomechanical pattern most strongly associated with all the injured runners was side-to-side pelvis drop, otherwise known as contralateral pelvic drop. In this case, the team found that for every 1 degree increase in pelvic drop (above the healthy runner’s average) there was an 80% increase in the chance of the study participants being classed as injured.
Chris currently heads up a specialist 3D running gait analysis clinic at the Manchester Institute of Health and Performance, while overseeing Salford University’s Running Performance Clinic, and says that these findings are helping to improve the runners they see.
FitPro spoke to Trevor Prior, consultant podiatric surgeon and senior clinical lecturer at Queen Mary University of London, and honorary visiting senior clinical fellow at the University of East London for his observations and analysis on the study.
Prior told FitPro, “This is an important paper demonstrating how variables in running technique and kinematic alignment can result in injury, and supports the published literature. The specific findings in this study mirror our findings in that these are key variables that can contribute to injury.”
He continued, “Detailed analysis such as this has not been widely available outside of the research environment and was the drive behind Run3D. The Run3D system uses three infrared cameras (Vicon) recording the kinematic angles of the pelvis, hip, knee, ankle and shoe. As in this study, the individual’s data is compared to an uninjured database to identify any key areas of altered function. This includes the angle of foot contact and pelvic drop as reported in this paper.
Concluding on the advancements in 3D gait training, Prior said, “Not every runner needs to have a 3D assessment and many aspects of re-training can be done via video analysis. However, for those that have recurrent or more complex problems, this approach helps to focus on the key areas to target.
Since introducing this technology into my practice, I have been able to provide a much more holistic approach to managing my patients. Without doubt, it has helped me manage injured runners in a way that would not have been possible previously.”
For more information on Run3D, please visit: run3d.co.uk
Where next? Check out our most recent technical comment from Dr Paul Batman HERE