Running and jogging are excellent forms of exercise that help patients stay healthy—so long as they follow proper techniques. Unfortunately, poor mechanics and an improper balance of strength and flexibility can contribute to pain and injury. By using a medically-based running analysis, physical therapists can identify factors that can contribute to pain with running. Once we identify the underlying causes, we can integrate evidence-based safe running practices to optimize musculoskeletal care.
What is a biomechanical analysis?
Modern biomechanical analysis software uses motion capture to analyze athletic performance and technique. An experienced physical therapist can use this information to develop personalized interventions.
Medically-Based Running Analysis
When a patient presents with running-related pain or an injury, often more information is needed to determine the cause. While they might be using poor running techniques, there could also be an underlying medical condition. Physicians can then refer the patient to a physical therapy clinic for further examination. A running-specific assessment consists of:
- A comprehensive medical review
- A complete history of training
- A physician’s examination of injuries
- A biomechanical analysis
- A physical therapy consultation
Medical and Training History
Both recreational and elite runners can develop musculoskeletal pain. However, seasoned runners may seek treatment for different reasons than novice runners. Thus, a comprehensive training history provides crucial insight into the patient’s assessment. Part of intake includes a Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire to address any significant risk factors for participating in exercise. In addition, the cumulative effects of exercise can play a role in the injury. So, when working with a new patient, the physical therapist finds out about the frequency and duration of training sessions as well as experience, pace, cross-training, running surface, and running shoes.
Functional Movement Assessment
Functional movement screenings help the physical therapist determine the strengths and weaknesses of motion. For example, a series of squats, lunges, and hurdles can demonstrate the runner’s motor control. The therapist’s carefully trained eye can assess lower body and core strength based on these motions. The functional assessment can also reveal symmetry imbalances that may contribute to joint pain.
Motion Capture Analysis
Motion capture involves digitally reconstructing a three-dimensional model of the runner. For example, while the patient jogs on a treadmill, multiple cameras capture markers on specific anatomical landmarks—knees, hips, etc. The software then converts the footage into a computer model for further analysis. Full-view video capture from all angles provides the best information.
Referring Patients for Assessment
When referring patients for a medically-based running analysis, find a physical therapy clinic that operates best practices to identify underlying causes of pain and injury. At Churchill Orthopedic Rehabilitation, we combine functional movement assessment with the use of our unique biomechanical analysis software to determine contributing factors to runners’ pain. To refer a patient for evaluation, call our office at 201-833-1333.