Sunday, April 18, 2010


By Matt Russ

When an athlete sustains an injury, the body produces pain as a way to get the athlete to stop doing what is causing it damage. Inflammation creates a feedback loop “turning off” muscle fibers and further shutting down an injury site. Depending on the intensity of the pain and inflammation, the athlete will compensate for it by using other muscle groups to do the work of the ones that are injured. This may be in the form of a subtle shift in weight or a full-on limp.

Once the athlete is healed, however, they will not always return to the same running form they had prior to being injured. The injury-compensated stride mechanics may continue; in some cases, even leading to more overuse injuries in other areas. An example is a “unipod” stride in which the athlete puts more weight on one leg to protect and unload the other. It is important to note that stride mechanics are deeply ingrained neurologically and habitual. Often the athlete does not realize that they are compensating. A comment I frequently hear after a video stride analysis is “I did not know I was doing that.” READ