There is currently a lack of consensus on the “ideal’ running form among running experts and researchers. There are pros and cons to many running variables including foot strike, but one area of agreement includes the reduction of forces at foot strike. Our previous blogs have described the importance of reducing vertical amplitude, peak forces, and time spent in contact with the ground. In general, runners who take longer compared to shorter strides are exposed to higher forces over their runs. Reducing these forces is a key area to the management of the injured runner and may help reduce the future risk of running injuries.
In our Boulder Physical Therapy practice, we often cue runners on utilizing a softer landing during their running gate. This one cue often is enough to both improve abnormal gait mechanics and reduce loading forces across the leg and spine. A recent study by Tate and colleagues confirmed our clinical observations (JOSPT. 2017). Authors studied healthy, college aged runners (>10 km per week) while they ran on a treadmill. An iPAD measured the sound levels of the runners at foot strike. The participants were then asked to run a second time at their preferred running speed but also received continuous feedback on their sounds at foot strike. As expected runners who were provided auditory feedback during gait retraining were able to reduce their vertical and ground reaction forces compared to a controlled. group. This study adds to our existing knowledge base on the ability to reduce forces in runners using auditory feedback.