By Becky Thompson, PT, CSCS
Kids learning to swim attend swimming lessons for weeks. When wanting to take their tennis to the next level even casual tennis players hire a coach. So why are we so reluctant to seek professional help to learn how to run better, more efficiently and injury-free?
According to a recent Wall Street Journal article,* “people who lace up their running shoes and pound the pavement have a roughly 50 percent chance of sustaining an injury that interrupts their training. Among marathon runners, studies have placed the injury incidence rate significantly higher, in some cases as high as 90 percent.” Note the article referenced “people who lace up their running shoes” – this high rate of injury isn’t just among long-distance or professional runners, but among all of us who go for a jog now and then.
Perhaps we don’t think of evaluating our running gait or working with a coach because we think running is a basic skill---one that we begin doing as toddlers. In many ways it is, but as we grow older, something changes. We sit all day then don fancy running shoes and run our scheduled mileage for that day. We push to complete training plans for half and full marathons whether our bodies are ready or not, sometimes limping, bracing and foam-rolling ourselves to the proverbial finish lines.
What if we could run virtually injury free? What if there was a better way to run?
As any runner, amateur or professional, it’s far better to prevent injuries rather than just treat them when they happen. It’s also important to discover the underlying cause of an injury (i.e. inactive glutes) instead of just treating the symptom (i.e. knee pain). The key may be in the details---learning to run efficiently and with proper form as well as strengthening weak muscles.
Fortunately there’s help right here in our community. The Wall Street Journal article I mentioned above cites gait analysis as the key to keeping your joints healthy while running.
Gwinnett Medical Center’s Running Clinic offers gait analysis through videotaping during a running session on the treadmill, plus strength evaluation. Clients get a detailed plan for improving problems with their strides and strength as well as a copy of their videos. With national recognition from Runner’s World magazine, GMC’s Running Clinic is also very affordable, at less than half the cost of similar programs around the U.S.
Identifying and correcting biomechanical flaws and weaknesses before a full-blown injury develops is key to healthy and pain-free running. As a recent client said, “After 20+ years of saying ‘I can't run,’ the gait analysis showed me exactly how I can run without knee pain, and gave me strengthening exercises to target the specific muscles where I’m weak. I feel like I'm 28 again!”
It’s not necessarily your age or the amount of mileage run doing damage to your body, but it’s the way you strike the ground that is increasing your risk for injury. GMC’s Running Clinic can help.
For more information call 678-312-7880 or visit www.gwinnettsportsmed.com/running-clinic.
*Wall Street Journal, Gait Analysis: The Serious Runner’s Salvation, Futterman, M, Sept. 22, 2014,
Runners World, The Whole Body Fix, Neitz, K, Feb. 27, 2014.