Can you change running technique?
Updated: Apr 15
“The way you run, is the way you run” is a common statement we hear when it comes to running technique, inferring that you can not change the way you run. So can you change how you run?
Running is a complex skill, represented as such in the brain alongside other complex movement skills like swinging a golf club, or throwing a ball. Just like these movements can be changed (as witnessed by anyone learning to swing a club or throw a ball), so can the way you run be changed.
Anecdotally, we see changes in running gait frequently in our patients, but what does the research say?
There have been a number of studies that have looked at the long term effects of gait retraining, here are some of them:
Subjects with patellofemoral pain maintained their changes in running mechanics, pain & function at 1-month follow-up (Crowell and Davis 2011, Noehren, Scholz et al. 2011, Roper, Harding et al. 2016) and 3 months post intervention (Cheung and Davis 2011, Willy, Scholz et al. 2012, Willy and Davis 2013)
Improvements in dynamic knee movement sustained at 1 month follow up (Barrios, Crossley et al. 2010)
Increases in cadence persisting 1 month in 10/16 subjects after intervention period (Willy et al. 2016)
Increase in cadence after 6 weeks of gait retraining in those with chronic exertional compartment syndrome (Diebal et al. 2012)
So clearly you CAN change the way you run, so the next question is: SHOULD you change your running technique? Read here
Barrios JA, Crossley KM, Davis IS. Gait retraining to reduce the knee adduction moment through real-time visual feedback of dynamic knee alignment. J Biomech. 2010 Aug 10;43(11):2208-13.
Cheung RT, Davis IS. Landing pattern modification to improve patellofemoral pain in runners: a case series. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2011 Dec;41(12):914-9.
Crowell HP, Davis IS. Gait retraining to reduce lower extremity loading in runners. Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon). 2011 Jan;26(1):78-83.
Diebal AR, Gregory R, Alitz C, Gerber JP. Forefoot running improves pain and disability associated with chronic exertional compartment syndrome. Am J Sports Med. 2012 May;40(5):1060-7
Noehren B, Scholz J, Davis I. The effect of real-time gait retraining on hip kinematics, pain and function in subjects with patellofemoral pain syndrome. Br J Sports Med. 2011 Jul;45(9):691-6.
Willy RW, Davis IS. Varied response to mirror gait retraining of gluteus medius control, hip kinematics, pain, and function in 2 female runners with patellofemoral pain. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2013 Dec;43(12):864-74.
Willy RW, Meardon SA, Schmidt A, Blaylock NR, Hadding SA, Willson JD. Changes in tibiofemoral contact forces during running in response to in-field gait retraining. J Sports Sci. 2016 Sep;34(17):1602-11.
Willy RW, Scholz JP, Davis IS. Mirror gait retraining for the treatment of patellofemoral pain in female runners. Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon). 2012 Dec;27(10):1045-51.