Running Gait Retraining for Injury Reduction

(Not Quite) Born to Run   

By  Sayaka Thiessen MScPT, BKin, CMAG

Summer is in full swing… so how can one resist lacing up those sneakers and hitting the pavement or trails in weather like this?

It is during these sunny months that many novice runners decide they want to try their hand (or should we say feet) at road racing in the fall. But like all good ideas, it is important to put a solid plan in place to ensure you get through the training and get to the race injury free. Most people that start running just head out the door without putting much thought into technique. This is perhaps one of the only sports where that is the case. And wouldn’t you know, too many have their running dreams dashed too soon due to accumulated aches and pains.

A study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine looked at injury rates of novice runners after participating in a running gait retraining program. They took one group and did 8 sessions on a treadmill over the course of 2 weeks, which involved live feedback from force plates that measured their landing impact. Using that data, the participants were asked to reduce their force for a softer landing. The second group were also popped on the treadmill for 8 sessions over 2 weeks but were given no feedback.

The runners were then sent off to fend for themselves. After 12 months, the groups were asked if they sustained any injuries. The retrained group reported a 16% injury rate, while the control group reported 38%. That is a fairly significant difference, although we do not know exactly what their running habits were over the course of the year, severity of injury, and time taken off due to injury.

At The Armoury our therapists can do a running assessment and provide feedback through verbal cues and video recordings. Though we cannot guarantee you will hit that starting line in the fall completely niggle-free, the knowledge that you are doing what you can to minimize your injury risk will give you a huge boost of confidence to attack your goals. Go get em!


Reference:  Gait Retraining for the Reduction of Injury Occurrence in Novice Distance Runners: 1-Year Follow-up of a Randomized Controlled Trial,  American Journal of Sports Medicine 2018 Feb;46(2):388-395



Sayaka Thiessen is a registered physiotherapist and neurofunctional acupuncture provider.   She is also an elite triathlete, who recently competed at the ITU World Championships in the Netherlands, and was female winner of the Toronto Triathlon Festival this past weekend.     Follow her on IG  @supersaime  

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