Two Easy Clinical Tests for Runners

In honor of the 11th Annual Lake Como 5k this Saturday, I thought it would be appropriate  to discuss a few quick movement based tests that we use at Advanced PMR that relate to running.  As mentioned previously, running requires a balance of multi-planar mobility and stability especially in the lower quarter.  In other words, it is important for injury prevention and performance enhancement to have adequate flexibility and control of the core and lower extremity.  Additionally, due to the repetitive nature of running and the demands placed on the lower extremity during stance (when the foot is on the ground), it is important to be able to absorb and transfer forces efficiently without compensation as to limit load on the joints and muscles of the lower body.  This is also why strength and power is important in running but that is a post for another day.

A thorough biomechanical assessment is the most complete way to evaluate a runner’s potential for injury and performance markers, but two tests have been documented in the literature to demonstrate potential injury risk when suboptimal, asymmetrical or aberrant movement is observed.

Test #1: Single Leg Squat

1. Hand on Hips, Opposite Leg Bent to 90 degrees 2. Pelvis Level 3. Trunk Upright 4. Knee track over 2nd toe 5. Foot stays flat on ground 6. No loss of balance

1. Hand on Hips, Opposite Leg Bent to 90 degrees
2. Pelvis Level
3. Trunk Upright
4. Knee tracks over 2nd toe
5. Foot stays flat on ground
6. No loss of balance

Perform 3 mini-squats on each leg without deviation from the six requirements above and receive a perfect score of 6/6.  Subtract one point for each movement fault.  A score of less than 4/6 increased the risk of injury [1].

Test #2: Active Straight Leg Raise (ASLR)

To perform, lie flat on your back, knees together, feet together, toes pointed straight up toward the ceiling. While keeping one leg on the ground, lift the other as far as possible before you opposite knee lifts up or foot turns out.

Scoring is dependent on where the ankle of the moving leg is in relation to the knee and mid-thigh of the stationary leg.  The clinician in the red shirt below is holding a dowel perpendicular to the floor at the subjects mid-thigh.  A score of “Poor” is if the moving ankle cannot pass the knee.  “Average” is if the ankle is between the knee and the dowel, and “Good” is if the ankle gets to or passes the dowel.  Another way to think of it is that a score of “Good” relates to approximately 70-80 degrees of hip flexion which is “normal.” ASLR scores of ≤Good significantly influenced the incidence of running injuries [2].

Score = Poor

Score = Poor

Score = Good (70-80 degrees)

Score = Good (70-80 degrees)

Score = Average

Score = Average

Give them a shot and see how well you do.  If you enjoy running, currently or have previously experienced aches and pains (especially in the lower body or low back), and find that you have asymmetry or poor test results there may be a correlation.  If you do not have pain when running, it may be advantageous to improve these tests to decrease risk of future injury.

 

 

  1. Single Leg Squat Test and Its Relationship to Dynamic Knee Valgus and Injury Risk Screening. Ugalde, Viviane et al. PM&R , Volume 7 , Issue 3 , 229 – 235

  2. Hotta, T. “Functional Movement Screen for Predicting Running Injuries in 18-24 Year-Old Competitive Male Runners.” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (2015): n. pag. Web.

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