Running with good form can help runners be more efficient, improve overall performance and avoid injury. A properly fitted running shoe can help, but won’t solve all running form issues.
Chris Gabriel, Physical Therapist with OrthoCarolina at D1 Sports, works with runners and athletes looking to get faster and more efficient. Gabriel believes it’s crucial to have a plan that includes the whole body when addressing running form. This is especially important for those new to running, runners with an injury history or those who have taken a break from running and are getting back into the sport.
For his patients, Chris builds a whole body plan. This plan first includes an athlete receiving a full evaluation that tests strength, flexibility and movement patterns. He often uses a video treadmill gait analysis as part of the assessment. This video analysis is helpful for both Chris and his patient to see the uniqueness of his or her running form in slow motion and better understand what may be impacting it. It helps identify areas to address and develop a program customized with strength, mobility, neuromuscular control and coaching drills.
The entire form is reviewed, but Chris pays close attention to the angle of the foot when it hits the ground. He also examines how and when pronation, or the foot rolling inward, occurs. Athletes who land heavily on the heel typically have a longer, less efficient stride. A heel strike sends extra force up the kinetic chain which is then absorbed by the knee and hip. While some pronation is necessary to absorb force, too much can lead to pain and injury, especially at the knee. Ten to twelve degrees is normal for a runner wearing shoes. Gabriel says more or less may need additional evaluation.
Chris Gabriel, OCS (Board Certified Orthopedic Specialist), CSCS (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist), practices physical therapy for the OrthoCarolina Wellness Center. Chris and his team treat a range of patients for orthopedic and sports medicine needs. He enjoys working with various local high school, college, and professional sports teams.
For acute orthopedic injuries after scheduled clinic and urgent care hours, please utilize the HURT! App, in partnership with OrthoCarolina, for fast free access to orthopedic advice with a response time of ~4 minutes. Download here.