3 Common Running Mistakes that Can Lead to Pain

Written by:
Dr. Steven Kreh
September 8, 2022

As a Doctor of Physical Therapy with advanced education specifically in running biomechanics, I see some common running mistakes that contribute to low back pain, knee pain and/or ankle pain. The three that I see most often are overstriding, bounce, and compliance.

Overstriding is the most detrimental of these three common mistakes and typically has the most negative effect on the musculoskeletal system. An overstride is when the foot contacts the ground too far in front of the hip. When this phenomenon occurs there is an increase in ground reaction forces which are transmitted up from the ground and into the limb during landing. A braking effect also occurs with overstriding. When an overstride occurs there is a horizontal friction force which not only slows the runner but causes shearing of the runner’s joints. When a runner is overstriding it should be the first remediation to improve running biomechanics.

The next common error is closely related to overstriding. Too much bounce is commonly seen in runners who overstride. Bounce is when there is unnecessary vertical displacement of the runner, or in other words too much movement up and down. Bounce can create a pounding like sound when listening to the runner. To no surprise this also creates an increase in ground reaction forces. When there is too much bounce the ground is quite literally beating up the lower limbs.

The last common mistake is when a runner is overly compliant. Have you ever seen Gumby run? Probably not, but just picture it. There is way too much movement. When the runner’s foot strikes the ground the runner’s trunk, hips, and pelvis are moving all over the place. While this may be optimal for dancing, it is not ideal for running. We want the runner to be stable. When a runner is too compliant it is usually an indication of poor trunk, pelvis, and hip control. Weakness of the core musculature and hips are also often present when a runner is overly compliant.

These mistakes are commonly the cause of pain in the lower body and low back. So what do you do? Find a physical therapist who has advanced training in running biomechanics. Soon enough it will feel like you are running on the clouds.

To learn more about how we help runners and triathletes at Activcore, click here.

Disclaimer:  The views expressed in this post are based on the opinion of the author, unless otherwise noted, and should not be taken as personal medical advice. The information provided is intended to help readers make their own informed health and wellness decisions.

Dr. Steven Kreh

Physical Therapist
Steven Kreh is a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) who specializes in the areas of vestibular rehab, concussion recovery, neurological conditions, and orthopedic care with a focus on helping athletes return to their sport. He works at Activcore in Princeton, New Jersey, located just 2 miles from Princeton University.‍ Growing up in New Jersey, Steven played tier 1 ice hockey for a full decade. He also played soccer and lacrosse in the off season. Now his sports of interest are MMA and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Read more

MORE BLOGS BY AUTHOR

All Blog Posts

6 Exercise Principles That Are NECESSARY For Fat Loss

There are many reasons someone might embark on a fitness journey: general health, enjoyment, to build strength, to build endurance, speed training, enhance sports performance, fat loss, and more. Achieving certain fitness goals is more difficult than others. Enhancing sport performance, increasing speed, and building strength are some of the more difficult fitness goals to achieve.

LEARN More

Can I Learn How to Fix My Vertigo on YouTube?

The short answer is maybe, but it will probably be a long shot. Many people experiencing vertigo have resorted to YouTube to cure their condition after seeing the half somersault maneuver developed by Dr. Carol Foster on mainstream news channels. This maneuver treats one type of vertigo, known as Posterior Canalithiasis BPPV...

LEARN More

3 Common Running Mistakes that Can Lead to Pain

As a Doctor of Physical Therapy with advanced education specifically in running biomechanics, I see some common running mistakes that contribute to low back pain, knee pain and/or ankle pain. The three that I see most often are overstriding, bounce, and compliance.

LEARN More