By Sheila Banovetz, MS, PT

Running is one of the most popular and practiced sports in the world. In the United States alone, almost 60 million people participated in running, jogging and trail running in 2017.  Most running injuries occur in the lower extremities, predominately the knee, and about 50% to 75% appear to be related to overuse, due to the constant repetition of the same movement. 

SPO’s 3D Noraxon Motion Analysis System is the perfect tool to identify faulty running patterns from all angles. The Noraxon System is the most advanced 3D motion-analysis system available today, and SPO is the only facility in Wisconsin that has Noraxon technology. 

The Noraxon System uses two high-speed cameras and 16 sensors to capture your movements for detailed analysis. The Noraxon software produces an avatar that lets us analyze your movements from any angle. 

The system also has eight EMG muscle sensors capable of analyzing muscle activation patterns. Noraxon lets us view your movements on video and put the avatar in slow motion down to 1/10 of normal speed for precise motion analysis.

Using motion-analysis data gathered from local collegiate, high school and recreational runners with injuries, faulty running patterns can be observed at different phases of running. 

Here are some of the common problems we see and treat in the clinic.

Heel strike or foot contact phase

The most common faulty pattern in this phase is insufficient knee bending when the foot touches the ground, regardless of the foot-strike pattern, resulting in less than ideal shock absorption. If combined with the other common pattern – having the contact foot cross the midline – poor knee-bending can result in improper loading of the lower extremity, causing stress-related injuries and knee pain.

Mid-loading phase

Another significant fault we see is faulty hip-knee-ankle alignment. In this phase, insufficient hip bending can be a major problem, and the hip and knee can rotate in, adding abnormal stress to the lower extremity. Excessive and quick pronation of the ankle can add even more stress to already unhappy joints.

Later loading phase

If there is delayed or insufficient push-off in this phase, several structures can be under prolonged stress, like the Achilles tendon and plantar fascia. 

The best approach to managing running injuries is to quickly identify the faulty pattern and the possible causes, and then start training to correct the faults, whether it’s insufficient hip control from lack of strength, poor cadence or improper loading of the lower extremities. Evaluating shoe wear can be helpful as well.

Curious about your running patterns? Call to schedule an appointment today and we’ll analyze and improve your gait!