Your Body on a Running Regimen
A running regimen often reveals the body's inefficiencies or misalignment. For example, improper foot alignment can cause hip pain, or improper hip alignment can cause knee pain. Physical therapists help runners adjust their running technique, thereby reducing risk of injury and improving race performance
Here are some common injuries, pain points, and form issues runners may experience:
1. Female runners are more likely to experience hip pain and should
speak with their physical therapist about proper running technique,
which may improve hip alignment and control. Imbalances
at the hip can cause iliotibial ban d syndrome, which appears as
pain on the outside of the knee.
2. Knees are the number one site of injury for runners. In fact,
anterior knee injuries make up 20 percent of all runner injuries. 1
3. Patellafemoral syndrome, or runner's knee, is often a result of over striding.
When over striding, the foot lands too far from the body causing the leg to take
on unnecessary stress that can injure the knee. Shortening the stride can reduce sharp heel strikes to lessen stress.
4. The most common sites of injury are different for runners over age
40. The Achilles tendon and calf are more vulnerable, and runners
may experience an increase in soft tissue injuries.
5. Feet are complex. Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis and over pronation
are all sources of discomfort for many runners. The correct
footwear can help in many situations, but this isn't a cure-all.
Exercise has been shown to have a beneficial effect on common
running injuries, even for the foot.
6. Stress fractures are common in runners under age 30. They are
often the cause of pain in the second metatarsal, the longest bone
in the foot that stems out to the second toe. A University of Delaware
study 2 conducted by physical therapist Irene Davis, PT, PhD,
found that runners who were cued to "run softly" reduced force to
their legs by 30 to 50 percent, greatly reducing the likelihood of a
Does any of this sound familiar? Consider seeing a physical therapist to evaluate your functional mobility and movement patterns before you experience an injury. A physical therapist can help you recover from most running injuries, and learn how to continue to safely train. A physical therapist can help you become a stronger and smarter runner, which in the long term can help you prevent injury.
1. Taunton JE, Ryan MB, Clement DB, McKenzie DC, Lloyd-Smith DR, Zumbo BD. A prospective study of running injuries: the
Vancouver Sun Run 'In Training' clinics. Br J Sports Med. 2003;37:239-44.
5. Crowell HP, Milner CE, Hamill J, Davis, I. Reducing impact loading during running with the use of real-time visual feedback.
J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2010;40(4):206-213, Epub 12 March 2010
The Physical Therapist's Guide to Healthy Running American Physical Therapy Association