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Q&A: What Is a Running Mechanics Profile?

What Is a Running Mechanics Profile?

A running mechanics profile is meant to create a detailed picture of where you are as a runner today—your habits, physicality, strengths, and areas for improvement—and to help you build a plan to become a faster, safer, more efficient runner tomorrow. Anyone who runs regularly, or who wants to begin a running program, can benefit from getting a running mechanics profile.

The specifics of what happens at the appointment will vary according to where the assessment is done. This service is most frequently found at sports medicine centers, although running clubs, fitness centers, and even some athletic shoe stores offer variations.

At the Tisch Sports Performance Center at Hospital for Special Surgery, the running assessment is performed by a physical therapist that specializes in running injuries and the rehabilitation of runners. I was pleased to work with Michael Capiraso, New York Road Runners’ president and CEO, on his running mechanics profile. You can get a behind the scenes look here.

Here’s how our typical assessment is organized:

  • First, the physical therapist talks with the runner about their history, as well as their current and past injuries, running status, and goals.
  • Range of motion, strength, and flexibility assessments are performed.
  • 2-D video analysis using Dartfish technology is used to analyze the runner’s form from the back, side, and front as they perform functional movements, such as squats.
  • The runner and the therapist look at the videos together and talk in detail about strengths, efficiencies, inefficiencies, and areas for improvement.
  • Finally, the runner receives a personalized home exercise program based on the results of the assessment to improve their running over time.

When you’re considering getting a profile done, ask lots of questions and make sure you understand what will be involved, what you’re taking home with you afterwards, and what the follow-up is like. Look for certified coaches and board certified sports specialists with a strong background in working with runners.


Julie Khan

Julie Khan is a physical therapist with HSS Rehabilitation. She graduated from Columbia University with a masters and doctorate in physical therapy and has her Board Certification in Sports Physical Therapy. Her clinical interests include post-surgical sports-related injuries and running mechanics. An avid runner herself, Julie enjoys rehabilitating runners and helping them get back to their sports safely and even stronger than before. She is a USATF Level 1 Coach as well as a Road Runners Club of America certified coach. She has completed more than 20 half-marathons and eight marathons.

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