Despite the absence of previous running injury and running as naturally as possible, inefficient running form could lead to injury down the road. Common biomechanical faults among runners include overstriding, too much vertical displacement (the amount you move up and down), and excessive pelvic drop during the mid-stance phase of your gait. Too long a stride causes you to brake slightly with each step, which increases your potential risk for stress fractures and other musculoskeletal problems. Too much vertical displacement is wasted energy. Runners that bounce up and down too much are losing energy that can be used later in the run, especially when they’re covering marathon distances. Too much movement in your pelvis can lead to low-back pain and hip bursitis.
Preventing these conditions from occurring will keep you running longer, safer, and potentially faster, since you’ll be wasting less energy. The best way to start to make corrections is to have a running analysis done. Using 2-D analysis, you can have your running form videotaped, after which corrective exercises and drills can be implemented in your routine.
Just having the visual feedback alone will go a long way toward making you a better runner. Studies have shown that runners who are videotaped and given only minimal verbal feedback about incorrect mechanics will improve just because of seeing themselves run.
Michael Silverman, PT, MSPT, USATF-1, is a physical therapist at Hospital for Special Surgery’s James M. Benson Sports Rehabilitation Center, specializing in rehabilitation for runners and other performance athletes. He has a special interest in running-form analysis, which he performs at the Tisch Performance Center at Hospital for Special Surgery.