American Family Children's Hospital

This Month in Sports Rehabilitation: Running Form and Technique (June 2010)

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University of Wisconsin runnerRunning is one of the most popular forms of exercise, with an estimated 35.9 million participants and 10.5 million people running an average of 100 days or more in a year.


Unfortunately, over 50 percent of recreational runners and as high as 90 percent of runners training for a marathon will sustain a running-related injury each year.


Despite this high potential for injury, we run on. But what can we do to minimize our injury risk?


UW Health Sports Rehabilitation is leading the way to speed recovery from existing running injuries and reduce the risk of future injuries.


Whether we're investigating the mechanical benefits of cushioned insoles (Read the full article PDF) or identifying gender specific differences in running mechanics (Read the full article PDF), our physical therapists are committed to providing the best care possible to the running community.


Runners Clinic: Improving Running Form and Technique


woman running on a treadmillThrough its dedicated Runners Clinic, University of Wisconsin physical therapists are discovering how running form and technique can be improved to keep runners of all ages doing what they want to do … run!


Request a Runners Clinic Evaluation


By combining targeted exercises with modifications to running form, individualized treatment plans are developed to get people back on the road as soon as possible. Recent research under the direction of Dr. Bryan Heiderscheit, an associate professor and physical therapist at the University of Wisconsin and co-director of the UW Neuromuscular Biomechanics Lab, has shown that simple and subtle changes to one's running form can have substantial effects on joint biomechanics.


Specifically, with a 5-10 percent increase in step rate, an accompanying decrease in impact loading and energy absorption occurs, helping to prevent common overuse running injuries, such as anterior knee pain and iliotibial band syndrome. This research was presented at the 2010 national meeting of the American Physical Therapy Association and is in the process of publication. View the presentation (PDF)


In collaboration with physical therapist Jenny Kempf and Sports Medicine physicians, Alison Brooks, MD, MPH and David Bernhardt, MD, Dr. Heiderscheit continues to investigate the potential of step rate modification to injury care and prevention.


man running on a treadmillStarting in the summer of 2010, this team of clinical researchers will begin a study that involves training runners with chronic anterior knee pain to run at higher step rates.


The goal of this work is to get these runners back to running with less pain and fewer future injuries, yet without compromising performance.


University of Wisconsin Running Injury Study


As part of this research, running mechanics are assessed using a computerized 3D motion capture system and an optimal step rate is identified that minimizes knee joint loading. The runner is then trained to run at this new step rate as part of a comprehensive rehabilitation program and monitored over several months to assess re-injury risk and performance.


For information regarding this study, please contact the UW Neuromuscular Biomechanics Lab at (608) 265-4350.





Chumanov ES, Wall-Scheffler C, Heiderscheit BC. Gender differences in walking and running on level and inclined surfaces. Clin Biomech 23:1260-1268, 2008.


Heiderscheit BC, Straker JS, Ryan M, Williams DS. Keeping the feet on the road: prevention and treatment of common running injuries. American Physical Therapy Association Combined Sections Meeting, San Diego, CA, February 7, 2010.


O'Leary K, Anderson Vorpahl K, Heiderscheit BC. Cushioned insoles reduce impacts during running. J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 98:36-41, 2008.


van Gent, R.N., D. Siem, M. van Middelkoop, A.G. van Os, S.M. Bierma-Zeinstra, and B.W. Koes (2007). Incidence and determinants of lower extremity running injuries in long distance runners: a systematic review. Br J Sports Med. 41:469-480.


USA Track and Field ( 2003). Long distance running - State of the sport. Accessed 4-28-2010.