Return to Running After an Injury

Running is a human locomotion technique used in most sports, but not all athletes run well, or with good running form. After an injury, it is common for athletes to modify their running form, often compensating to get back to running as soon as possible.

One of the most common running errors (and compensations) is called “running from the back seat”. This is a posterior lean with a large heel strike rather than a forward lean with the foot striking underneath the body.

Backseat running causes increased breaking forces and increased impact forces. This compensatory running form results from poor foot and ankle stability, lack of core stability, limited hip extension range of motion, and weak posterior chain strength.

While there are land-based drills to address these running form breakdowns, running in a SwimEx resistance pool optimizes forward body lean without the fear of falling forward. Athletes using the SwimEx underwater treadmill or angled running pad, combined with the laminar water flow, develop stability and optimize forward lean while running. Running in the water while leaning into the flow also develops a forward body lean with less impact fatigue on lower extremities.

Running form without the laminar water flow

Watch the video below to see how the athlete runs without the current. The athlete is in an upright position reaching out with his feet.

Running form with the laminar water flow

This video below highlights the change in form with the laminar water flow. The athlete is leaning forward and placing his feet under his torso. The athlete notices the change, sharing that it feels more natural running with the flow on.

Running form on angled pad

Watch the video below to see how the athlete continues to improve his running form using the angled pad. Sprinting on the pad with the flow turned up high gives a good knee drive and hip drive.

Running form on angled pad with underwater observation

This video below includes an underwater observation of an athlete running on the angled pad. The body is leaning forward with good running form.

Running with the SwimEx laminar water flow helps to ensure proper running form and prevents issues related to backseat running including knee pain and limited range of motion. Running on the treadmill or angled pad with the flow ensures a forward body lean.

~ Authored by Connie Peterson, PhD, LAT, ATC, athletic trainer at James Madison University.

Download our Return to Running infographic.

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