Over the past ten years, there seems to have been an increase in discussion about running style and how this can influence a runners pain and performance. The initial hype appeared to start with the barefoot running craze, when athletes started running in a minimalist shoe that encouraged this type of running style. This also seemed to coincide with the release of the book 'Born to Run', which after reading I swore I was going to become a vegan barefoot runner (for running nuts it really is a great book). From here it seemed to go in the complete opposite direction, with athletes choosing to run in the shoes with maximum cushioning and going for runs in what look like a 1990's platform shoe.
So where are we now?
We seem to have come a long way from simply prescribing a forefoot running gait and recommended people take their shoes off to go for a run. There is emerging evidence for the role of running retraining in treating lower limb conditions. This particularly helps if running is your main aggravating factor.
A panel of experts came together to discuss the role of running retraining in lower limb injuries and found that it had a role in treating conditions such as patello-femoral pain, ITB syndrome and lower limb tendinopathies. see link here: http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/bjsports/50/9/513.full.pdf. Common dysfunctions that were noted were over-striding (planting the foot in front of the body), slow cadence and also a cross over running style. The experts reasoned that pain could be reduced from targeting these dysfunctions. It makes plain sense that by changing the way you run, it would allow you to offload the injured area.
Guidance is recommended to help change your running gait from either your coach or sports physiotherapist. Video footage is often the best way to review how you are running. I used to believe I ran like Marion Jones (before the I found out about the doping scandal), whereby video footage would show me that I actually ran like a baby T-rex! The way you believe you move, and how you actually move, can be two very different things. Your local Melbourne sports physiotherapist with an interest in running injuries should be able to assist you.
The other key is to try and not change too much too soon. Working on one or two cues at a time is ample. Often, it is finding the cue sweet spot, whereby one simple cue can help address multiple dysfunctions. Again, guidance from an experienced running physiotherapist or podiatrist is useful to help find the cues that work best for you.
If you are interested in seeing how running retraining can improve your pain and performance, seek out your local Melbourne sports physiotherapist or running coach.