New study reveals perfect running technique to avoid runner’s knee

Runner's knee injury

It might sound strange – particularly to the layperson – but the professional athlete knows how to run correctly. For most people, running – like walking – seems as it should be one of the most natural things in the world: if you’re not falling over, you must be running correctly, right?

However, a new study from Salford University has demonstrated that there is a correct style of running – and if you’re a regular jogger who isn’t adhering to the proper technique, you’re running the risk of developing myriad ailments and injuries down the line.  The study also revealed that, if you’re one of the people who doesn’t know what that technique is, you’re not alone.

Researchers at Salford University’s Running Performance Clinic, used 3D infrared cameras to analyse the running style of 72 joggers. Not any old joggers, though – all volunteers were sufferers of common running complaints, from patellofemoral pain (runner’s knee) to medial tibial stress syndrome (shin splints).

After the various techniques were analysed, the research team then switched their attention to a pool of 36 runners who had never suffered a common injury, filming their styles – and after running the rule over both groups, the research team discovered that pelvic drop (a positioning which lowers the pelvis, obviously) was the key factor: they found that for every 1° increase in pelvic drop, there was an 80 per cent increased chance of a runner’s knee injury.

“These running injuries are some of the most common experienced by runners and can lead to considerable time off the roads,” claimed Chris Bramah, who led the study team. “What we wanted to do with the study is identify whether there were aspects of running technique that may be contributing to these injuries. If so, we can hopefully use this information to help runners recover from injury, and prevent future injuries happening.”

How to prevent runner’s knee

Why would pelvic drop be the prime culprit for so many ailments? According to the study team, a posture with excessive pelvic drop creates extra stress throughout the entire body, meaning that the weakest part of the lower body – the knee, maybe, or the Achilles, or anywhere else – is the first to go. And while other poorly-performed techniques were also pinpointed, such as an outstretched leg, high foot angle at initial contact and a greater forward lean, the detection of pelvic drop as a major knock-on factor should be a wake-up call for all runners, be they professional or otherwise.

While the research team are now looking into the effects of step rate and cadence on a runner’s risk of injury, their latest study is a timely reminder that it always pays to keep tabs on the fundamentals. If you feel that your current technique could do with a tune-up – or you’re wondering if the way you’re currently running could be the cause of recent setbacks – it makes sense to turn to a knee injury expert for an MOT at your earliest convenience – and if you can get someone to video your next treadmill session, even better.