1. High Weekly Mileage Progression
Running progression is important for injury prevention!
A sudden increase of weekly running mileage by 30% or more over a two week period was found to be associated with running injuries, unlike those who increased their distance by less than 10%.
Remember the 10% rule!
Other factors to consider in running progression other than increasing distance include pace, interval training, and hills. Sudden changes to these factors can also affect injury outcomes. Listen to your body and give yourself time to adapt to new factors in your running!
2. Low Running Cadence
Cadence is the number of steps taken per minute. In running, this is an important number and modifying this number has been shown to reduce running injuries.
Biomechanics related to step rate were analyzed in a study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. After monitoring three-dimensional kinematics and kinetics in 45 recreational and healthy runners, they found that increases to stride cadence reduced loading forces in the knee and hip joint, which, they hypothesize, may help prevent prevalent running injuries.
The number that is generally recommended for running cadence is 160-180 steps per minute but make sure you are not increasing too quickly as you try to increase your cadence. Shoot for the same 10% rule we mentioned in tip #1 about weekly mileage increase!
You can calculate your running cadence by measuring how many steps you take in 60 seconds. There are also running apps that can help you calculate, and metronomes or music playlists (if you enjoy listening to music while running) that have beats matching your desired cadence.
Commonly mistaken for heel striking when running, overstriding can happen when your foot lands in front of your knee, regardless of foot strike pattern. This can often lead to knee pain when running.
Overstriding has been found to increase the impact forces through your foot, knee, and hip, as well as decreasing your running efficiency due to the excessive braking forces associated with placing your foot too far forward.
TIP: Have a friend/family member record you running and see if you notice if your ankle lands in front of your knee.
Tips to correct:
-Try increasing your cadence. An increase in cadence will often shorten your stride and help with overstriding.
-Think about trying to land your foot under your center of mass or think about driving your leg back to propel you forward.
Bounding while running, also known as your vertical displacement, occurs when your body is moving up and down too much while you are running.
Similar to overstriding, this wastes energy and also increases the impact forces on your feet, knees, hips, and back.
Do you hear your feet hitting the treadmill or pavement? Do you feel like you are stomping on the ground with each step? Are your footsteps loud or quiet? These are great ways to detect if you are landing too hard and may be associated with high vertical displacement.
Tips to correct:
-Run lightly and land softly on your feet.
-Focus on quick stride turnover.
-Take shorter, softer steps, as if you’re running on eggshells.
-Increase your cadence (see Common Training Errors part 3 post)
5. Crossover Gait
Do you ever feel like you are tripping over your own feet when running? Crossover, or scissoring, occurs when your feet land on or across your midline while running. This narrowed step width increases stress on the tibia and outside leg and can often contribute to knee pain or other injuries such as stress fractures of the tibia.
Identifying crossover: Have someone record you running on a treadmill or outside from behind. In the video, watch to see if your feet appear to be landing one in front of the other as if running on a line.
Tips to correct:
-Imagine running on a track with your left foot landing on one side of the track line and your right foot landing on the other side.
-Imagine the pedaling motion of riding a bike and keep your feet wide enough to pedal the bike.
-Squeeze your butt muscles (this will help to widen your stance)
Nielsen, R. Ø, Parner, E. T., Nohr, E. A., Sørensen, H., Lind, M., & Rasmussen, S. (2014). Excessive Progression in Weekly Running Distance and Risk of Running-Related Injuries: An Association Which Varies According to Type of Injury. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 44(10), 739-747. doi:10.2519/jospt.2014.5164
Heiderscheit, Bryan C., et al. “Effects of Step Rate Manipulation on Joint Mechanics during Running.” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, vol. 43, no. 2, 2011, pp. 296–302., doi:10.1249/mss.0b013e3181ebedf4.
Willson, J., Ratcliff, O., Meardon, S., & Willy, R. (2015). Influence of step length and landing pattern on patellofemoral joint kinetics during running. Scandinavian Journal Of Medicine & Science In Sports, 25(6), 736-743. doi: 10.1111/sms.12383
Brindle, Richard A., et al. “Changing Step Width Alters Lower Extremity Biomechanics during Running.” Gait & Posture, vol. 39, no. 1, 2014, pp. 124–128., doi:10.1016/j.gaitpost.2013.06.010.