How to Run from Pain to Performance Part 2

Part 2- Screening and Movement Analysis for Runners – What, Why and How?

As highlighted in the first part of this series of articles there is a pressing  need to assess movement control   in runners, a process ultimately identifying  ‘weak links’ (areas of poorly controlled movement).

Performance Matrix movement analysis is comprised of a series of movement control tests allowing  for the identification of control deficits.  The movement impairments it reveals and their relationship to injury occurrence and recurrence is now a widely researched area; investigations that support contemporary clinical practice in the restoration of movement quality.

The Running Matrix tests are broken down into two main parts; motor control & coordination (low threshold of recruitment  movement control) and strength/speed (high threshold of recruitment  movement control). This delineation of intensity is considered  vital, as research highlights threshold specific deficits require threshold specific interventions.

Why? Questions we may run up against.

“But running is just a straight line activity” your clients will argue. However, as was earlier stated the aim of any good programme (rehab, conditioning or prevention) is to optimise movement, ensuring everything is doing its job efficiently. If there is a deficit   in low and high-threshold  movement control the ‘power’ muscles of the body are ‘overstressed’, a situation increasing injury risk.


To highlight the analysis  system in action  we have taken an existing client and provided a summary of their background and results.

This client had been through physiotherapy and  traditional rehabilitation experiencing  good resolution of their symptoms. They were referred for  a movement screen to identify what the underlying causes of these injuries and pain were and to put a plan in place to ensure that the symptoms did not return.

The desire to reduce the rate of recurrence is one common reason runners will seek out movement analysis. . Informing them the process will also improve the quality of their movement/technique is another key benefit runners experience post training.

Case Study

Male, Office Worker
Sport: Recreational Runner
Injury History: Chronic Lower Back Pain, Right Patella Tendinopathy & Left Achilles Tendinopathy
Profile report: Running Matrix Result: 40/50
Key Movement Faults Identified in The Running Matrix detailed by site, direction and threshold of uncontrolled movement

  • Low Back Pelvis, Rotation,  Low Threshold
  • Foot, Pronation, Low Threshold
  • Hip Medial Rotation, Low Threshold
  • High Threshold Hip Medial Rotation

The priorities for resolving weak links and the strategies used to achieve this will be discussed in the final part of the blog.

Weak Links and Running Technique

Most movement professionals, working with runners, will able to testify there is a great disparity in the ‘quality’ of running technique within their client groups.    Although there may not be one correct way of running, there are some common technique faults seen to  increase stress on the body.

  • Excessive Upper Body/Pelvis Rotation
  • Cross-over of the Feet – The feet cross the midline of the body as seen from behind
  • Excessive Pronation – This obviously can be caused by a structural issue but is often contributed to by a lack of stability
  • Over striding – This is where the client lands ahead of their centre of gravity in a side on view.

So how can these technique faults be caused or exacerbated by weak links (areas of uncontrolled motion)?

Let’s look at each of above technique faults and relate them to the most likely stability cause.

  • Excessive Upper Body/Pelvis Rotation. Cause: Lack of ability to control rotation of the lumbar spine/pelvis. The control is not sufficient to control the rotation motion of the pelvis through the gait cycle.
  • Cross-over of the Feet. Cause: Poor control of sidebending of the spine or hip medial rotation. This is because either will allow the pelvis to drop that will allow the leg to come under the body.
  • Excessive Pronation.  Cause: Poor control of the lower leg and medial rotation of the hip which drives the motion from top down
  • Over striding.  Cause: Hip flexion as this prevents a good running posture and makes it more difficult to be propulsive during gait

With these pointers  in mind it may be  expected the runner in the present  case study to present with problems  poorly controlled  pronation and rotation of the lower back and pelvis, clearly relating to previous injury history.

Employing the movement analysis system  has supplied the ability to identify underpinning causes of many recurrent injuries and therefore offers a route of prevention rather than just recurrence management

The power of such a system is not only appealing to the practitioner of movement analysis and retraining but also extends to the runner who can simply continue to do what makes them happy; run without pain, without days lost to injury.

For the clinician the opportunity to offer a unique and valuable service to a huge market of injured (or previously injured) runners awaits.

Find out more about The Performance Matrix

Get in touch with Andy Hosgood and find out about using The Performance Matrix in your clinic