It could be you running or walking style that is contributing to your symptoms.
Running and walking are both a very repetitive activities. Running, particularly, also involves a relatively high level of impact; that is the amount of force going through your joints and muscles. Some studies suggest that during running the lower limb will have to cope with upwards of four times your bodyweight each time it hits the ground. Walking will also cause high loads on impact. This means that our muscles and joints have to be able to tolerate a lot of force over and over again when we are running. And for the most part they do that extremely well.
However, if we have imperfections in our running or walking style (gait), and no one, at least no one that I’ve seen, has perfect biomechanics, then we start to have the potential for these niggly muscle and joint issues. The longer (distance and/or time) that we run, the more likely we are to get an injury.
There is a lot of information on running styles circulating throughout the web, and it can be very confusing.
Pronation, heel strike, cadence are words that are all thrown around quite often, and they may be relevant to you, but they may not.
Here is a video describing over pronation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hzM0-9vILcA.
For some people this is a real problem and will cause pain in the foot, ankle, knee or even hip and back.
For others, it is there natural gait and does not cause any issue.
Here is Haille Gebrselassie, one of the greatest middle and long distance runners with his running style https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAW87NsiGuI.
He pronates quite a lot, but is able to run marathons with this gait pattern.
There is also a lot of discussion around forefoot versus heel strike at initial contact during running and this inevitably slips into barefoot versus normal trainer versus minimal shoe, as Dr Michael Mosely discusses here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOv9wdPvCFk.
So how do I know if you need to worry about these things?
You might take some footage of you running and try to analyse it for heel strike and pronation.
You can go to some sports stores who will do a quick gait analysis and recommend appropriate footwear to match your running style.
But the best thing you can do is see your physiotherapist for some expert advice. Some of these ‘abnormalities’ such as increased pronation may not actually be affecting or causing your niggly pain.
It could be, but it may be something else, like poor muscle strength around your hip, or too much increase in training load without enough recovery.
At myPhysioSA we can look at your gait pattern but also check your strength, motor control and range of movement and tie this in with the ‘how’ and ‘when’ you get your niggly pain.
We can pinpoint the issues that are affection your symptoms and let you know which ones you don’t need to worry about.
We’ve treated many runners with lot’s of different injuries and helped them to continue to run and get back to achieving their goals, be it keeping up with the Saturday morning Park Run or completing a marathon.
We are here to help you make it to the end!
Joshua Stewart, myPhysioSA Associate Physiotherapist