There are lots of common running mistakes when it comes to form but one of the biggest is over striding. Over striding can cause of so many injuries, patella tendinitis, IT band stuff, major hip stress and calf problems. That pretty much covers it all. Over striding is not the only poor habit that brings on these types of overuse injuries but it's a bad habit that most runners touch on at one point during their running life.
I would consider myself a runner with pretty good form but I have definitely developed an over striding habit and didn't really know it. After my knee injuring last summer I have semi battled hip (mostly glute medius) strain and some knee pain. About 3 weeks ago my knee started acting up again. With a good memory of last summer I was pretty dialed in to the particular pain and the feelings in my leg. Being so aware I took all the appropriate precautions, stretching, icing, resting, isometric flexation, blah, blah, blah. I worked with Dr. T to dig out my balled up glute medius and make sure my pelvis was aligned but the one thing I didn't do was have someone take a look at my stride. In order to run the last couple of weeks I had to sort of bring my left leg along for the ride. I focused on getting it turn properly but my knee and muscles were not getting any better. It wasn't until Sunday when Micheal and I hit Lief for our 15 mile run where I warned him I may need to turn back early that all my problems would unfold. I am pretty sure I can bank on this now after giving it a couple of test drives so I will share the story in hopes others may benefit.
As we ran along I again made my left (injured) leg the focus of my stride. Working on all the stuff Scott told me to think about while running. His list includes, quick paw-back, knee drive, dorsey flextion of the foot upon landing, leading with hips or pelvis and a tall stature with quick turnover. I know that's a big list but each piece comes naturally for some. I my case a couple are no brainers like a tall stature. I have good lower abs and stand fairly erect anyway. Knee drive also comes easy for me. The ones I struggle with are paw-back (lifting the foot as if you were kicking your butt) instead of a lengthened push back. I also have an anterior tilt to my pelvis that comes naturally (like a duck butt) so leading with hips can always use work. All the while I am working on left leg form my right leg is just doing it's job. But is it???????? The lack of good form on my left side forced my right side to do a fair amount of compensating. Did I realize this?? NO! But Micheal saw it clearly. As we made our way to the around the 5 mile mark he said. "You are really over striding with your right leg, bring it in to match your left instead of trying to get your left to match your right". I thought for moment, took stock in my right leg and immediately noticed my over striding. I brought it in and instead of dwelling on my injured leg my mind shifted to the healthy one. I body immediately made the adjustment. Within about 2 miles all my knee pain lifted and I could feel my left quad start to fire properly. My speed increased and I reported a miracle. Could it really be this simple? Scott says, yes! As we continued on my hips began to square and the strain in my hip (glute medius) sort of vanished as well. Skeptical....most definitely. I needed more data and I got it. 2 more runs with no hip or knee strain. But.....my atrophied left rectus femoris (frontal quad) is super sore. It's firing like crazy when I run. See this guy's back leg? That is essentially what I do with my back leg. This straight paw back forces me to really use my hip to get my leg back in front of me plus extra energy. Now all of this was very subtle so the correction is subtle but has a huge impact on my body.
How do you know if your over striding. First count your strides and they need to be a minimum of 90 per minute but 95 is even better. Have someone watch you run! I don't care how long you have been running you can benefit from an outside view. Be open to suggestions! When we have any injury our minds go to the injury but maybe we need to go direction opposite and focus on NOT over compensating. Stop trying to favor or make the other leg do extra.
Every time I have had an ache or pain Scott's rehab has always included stride management. He will have you shorten that puppy up tight when injured. I am fortunate to have a few friends have almost textbook strides. Micheal's stride is almost perfect along with Darin's. Jim Rudig's stride is absolutely effortless. Beast had me shorten my stride during my hill climbs at AC100M one year and I gained speed during the climbs. He can out climb most on steep terrain for long periods of time. His uphill stride is perfect. Check out your stride. Do you reach in front of your pelvis.? Do you have a straighter leg on your kickback? Do you dorsey flex your foot? If you over stride it's really hard to naturally dorsey flex so if you don't you might want to check it out. Check out this video.