Should you change your running technique?

running Feb 09, 2024

So we’ve previously discussed that your running technique CAN be changed (here), but the more important question is: SHOULD you change it? So let’s discuss some of the reasons FOR and AGAINST changing running technique.


Symptom modification

  • There have been multiple studies showing both immediate AND long term improvements in symptoms when changing running technique. This includes injuries such as patellofemoral pain (Runner’s knee), ITB pain and Exercise-induced leg pain.

(Noehren 2011, Roper 2016, Diebal 2012, Breen 2015)

Injury risk & prevention

There are some limited studies on the role of running technique in injury prevention:

  • Luedke in their study showed that those with a cadence <164 were 6.67 times more likely to experience shin injury vs >/=174 steps. Prospective BUT not an intervention study. (Luedke 2016)

  • Increased peak hip adduction = a risk factor for future PFP in female runners & associated with persistence of PFP. (Noehren 2013, Davis 2020, Neal 2016)

  • Runners with an increased AP braking force was a predictor for running injury. (Napier 2018)

  • A number of other kinematic variables have been associated with injury including knee & ankle flexion at touchdown, ankle & hip flexion at toe-off, increased knee flexion during stance phase, and increased dorsiflexion during early stance with PFP. (Mousavi 2019, Bramah 2018, Goss 2012, Tojima 2019, Fox 2018)

  • A two-week gait retraining program resulted in a 62% lower injury rate. (Chan 2017)

  • In their comparison of injured versus non-injured runners, Bramah et al found that Injured runners demonstrated greater contralateral pelvic drop, greater forward trunk lean at midstance and a more extended knee and dorsiflexed ankle at initial contact. (Bramah 2018)

Running economy

  • This can be both a FOR & AGAINST. There have been studies to show certain elements of running technique to be related to a better running economy (Moore 2016, Folland 2017).

  • HOWEVER changing technique can negatively impact running economy in the short term (Dallam 2005, Townshend 2017). Adaptation to the change in technique likely occurs quickly, within 3-6 weeks (Bogulski 2017, Fletcher 2008, Craighead 2014, Clansey 2013, Hafer 2015), and may even eventually result in an improved running economy. (Quinn 2019)


Robbing Peter to pay Paul

Forces do not magically disappear when you change running technique. They are simply redistributed. For example, if you are suffering knee pain and increase your cadence, the knee may experience a decrease in load, however, the calves and feet may see a proportionate increase in load. Have you got the foot and calf strength to handle this?

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it 

If you are currently uninjured, don’t have a long injury history and you are running well, then you need to consider if changing your technique will be of benefit to you. 

So there you have it, the decision to alter technique needs to be made on an individual basis, and a discussion with your healthcare practitioner will help determine if you need to change your running technique!

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