We can all agree that overstriding is a bad thing when it comes to running. Simply put, overstriding is when your foot lands too far in front of your hip at the moment of impact. So, the questions become, how do I know if I’ve overstriding? and how do I fix it if I am overstriding? It is very easy to want to focus on your feet, and perform drills to develop proper foot placement. These are often helpful, but what if the dysfunction is coming from somewhere else?
This brings us to Aaron’s story. He has run several marathons and is gearing up for another this fall. He is also eyeing a late summer triathlon. As we met up for our session, he remarked that he has had intermittent right medial knee pain with running. As our session started, it looked like hip strength/flexibility/efficiency was going to be the focus. A moderate overstride was present, but it didn’t appear to be the most critical element of his form. But at the end, with focusing on his hip function, the overstride diminished. Again, this wasn’t the initial goal, but the result was too cool not to bring attention.
Here is video of him initially.
One of the clues to look for if you suspect overstriding, is if you can see the bottoms of his feet while he is running toward you, then he is likely guilty. What else is present on the right side is a hard landing through his hip and slight toe-out. Essentially, if he’s not using his hip to absorb the landing adequately, combined with his foot turning out, extra stress is placed on the inside of his knee.
Another note on overstriding, when you do it, it increases the impact through your legs, hips, and core and doesn’t allow you to use muscles efficiently. On the flip side, if you can teach your hips to work more efficiently, this can cut down on your overstride, as we’ll see as Aaron’s story unfolds.
Here’s another assessment tool for hip stability, notice the position of his knee as he gets deeper into the squat. His right knee goes inward further than the left, which is a sign of poor stability in the right hip.
What to do about it? First an exercise to build strength/stability in the hip, again notice it’s more of a struggle on the right side.
Also, a simple stretch for the gluts.
Next, we went caveman style to build further hip strength and quickness of load/response. Holding weight overhead forces his hips to work harder to load and push-off.
We also transferred that into a form drill. Notice the overstriding is already going away!
After all this, here is footage of him running.
Again, the overstriding is greatly diminished and he looks much more efficient through his hips and upper body. As mentioned above, if you can see the bottoms of his feet as he’s running toward you, that’s not a good thing, and he looks much better with this after doing the exercises. Also, notice his toe out is decreased.
So, the take home message here is that the area with the greatest flaw in form may not be the place to start correcting it.
With constant attention to these areas, it will make a huge difference for decreasing the knee pain and improving his efficiency as a runner. Great job Aaron!