Body posture can influence both our quality of life and sports performance.
More specifically for this topic, body posture plays an essential role in your running technique efficiency and generally in your running performance.
To check your body posture properly is not enough a clinical assessment observing the shape of your body’s structures.
In fact, we need more advanced equipment such as a Gait Analysis System that provides you with dozens of analytical data about your body posture and your interaction with the ground.
These data can be combined with more classical diagnostic investigations such as X-rays to check the status of your spine and other joints such as the hip, knee, ankle, and shoulder joints.
We can assess our body posture in different conditions during which the body’s forces of interaction with the ground can change accordingly.
We can identify mainly three types of Postural Assessment:
For this topic, we are going to focus on classical Stance Analysis which provides us with data about the static position without movement of the body.
Stance Analysis of the body can be performed with different methods and equipment to check the structures of our body and their interaction with the ground.
Generally, we can identify 6 different ways to assess a static body posture:
Without going into details about the pros and cons of all these ways to assess a body posture I can tell you that the best approach is a mix of some of them.
In our sports clinic, we provide a high-tech postural assessment that utilizes a combination of traditional methods like X-ray Diagnostic, Observational Assessment, and more advanced Stance Analysis with a Gait Analysis System composed of a Force Pressure Sensitive Treadmill with an HD Video Cameras System.
The X-rays can guarantee us an accurate assessment of the spine, knee, and hip joints structure and shape that sometimes, with a clinical assessment, can be not assessed properly due to the big muscles that cover the real bone’s shape and structure.
The camera system can give us a general view to support clinical observation and X-rays.
In absence of an X-ray, the camera system can provide us with a good approximation of spine, knee, and hip joints structure and shape.
Gait Analysis System can provide you with dozen of analytical data about the interaction of your body’s forces with the ground that all other kinds of postural assessments miss.
Now I am going to describe the most common postural issues that can affect the running technique and so the running performance.
Scoliosisis a sideways curvature of the spine that most often is diagnosed in adolescents.
Scoliosis can affect the shoulder and hip imbalances ( asymmetry ) such as Elevated Scapula and Lateral Pelvis Tilt respectively.
This condition can create forces overloading one side more than the other one ( see image below ).
This static condition can affect the dynamic condition too with a consequent strain of one limb or joint during the running.
Kyphosis is an exaggerated curvature of the spine at the level of the thoracic vertebras that appear more rounded than normal.
This structure of the thoracic spine can create imbalances in the upper body affecting mainly the muscles of the shoulder and neck due to the position of the head pushed forward.
With the stance analysis, we find generally forces overloading of the forefeet ( more than the physiological load of 33% ).
For the runners, this condition can create an easy building up of muscle tension on the upper back and neck and sometimes peaks of forces on the forefoot.
Lordosis is increased curvature of the lumbar tract of the spine.
This condition is often associated with an anterior pelvis tilt and weak abdominals.
It could be associated with forces overloading the heels or forefoot during stance analysis, depending on the muscles compensation mechanism of the body.
This condition of weak core muscles can be associated with poor running stability of the hip joint.
A flattened Spine is a condition that can affect the three physiological curvatures of the spine in which they are reduced until a complete inversion of the curvature as sometimes happen to the lumbar or cervical tract of the spine.
During stance analysis, we have been founding a forces overload of the mid and fore foot as it is often associated with flat foot ( see the images below ).
This condition affects mainly the foot strike with a flat landing of the foot with excessive stress on the ankle joint and muscles.
Valgus Knees ( knock Knees ) is a lower leg deformity that exists when the bone at the knee joint is angled out and away from the body’s midline.
More specifically, the valgus knee is diagnosed when the Tibio-Femoral angle is greater than 10°( outer angle of the knee joint ).
From the biomechanics point of view, the valgus knees are less dynamic than normal knees and they can place the knees under extra pressure, which may increase the risk of developing arthritis and erosion of the outer bones of the knee.
Generally, a stance analysis with a patient with knock knees shows forces overloading the inner part of the foot as very often associated with a flat valgus foot.
This condition can lead to many running issues depending on the gravity and the presence of other postural issues.
Generally, this condition produces a running poorly in dynamicity and with more stress on the outer knee and inner ankle.
Varus knee ( Bow Legs ) is a condition that happens when the Tibia turns inwards instead of aligning with the femur ( 180° ideal alignment ). This causes your knee to turn outward.
Varus knees are diagnosed when the Tibio-Femoral angle is greater than 10° ( medial angle of the knee joint ).
From the biomechanics point of view, the varus knees are more dynamic than the valgus knee but they can still place the knees under extra pressure, which may increase the risk of developing arthritis and erosion of the inner bones of the knee.
During stance analysis of a patient with varus knee, we found generally increased forces acting on the outer foot with increased stress on the outer ankle joint.
A study in the Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research shows that compensatory changes in the ankle to varus knee deformities mainly occur at the distal tibial side, which could influence the ankle tilt and cause an abnormal biomechanical state in the tibiotalar joint.
Therefore they believe that valgus change in the distal tibial plafond and increased ankle tilt could be the main causes of ankle degeneration due to varus knee deformities.
As we have explained above postural issues can influence a lot your running technique and therefore your running performance.
Be aware that all the findings exposed so far about the correlation between different postural issues and the running technique efficacy have been classified and generalized for writing purposes.
In fact, we can have different effects ( here categorized for a different postural condition ) for the same postural issue condition due to a series of complex biomechanic postural compensation actuated by our body.
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