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Backseat Runners - Not a New Hit Band

What in the world is backseat running?

Well, we're about to break it down for you here and tell you exactly what problems could arise and usually arise when a runner exhibits a "backseat running posture."

If you've been dealing with a running injury or have been struggling with your running efficiency, you'll definitely want to read this from top to bottom!

At Alliance Regen & Rehab, one specialty of ours is helping runners overcome injury without medications, surgery, or steroid injections. We take a whole body approach and when we have a new client who is injured or not injured, we always put them through our Medical Running Analysis. This medical running analysis is one of the most, if not the most comprehensive assessments for runners in the Tampa area. One of the reasons why so many runners love it and are blown away by it is because it addresses all of aspects of the runner. We talk about history, goals, training plan, upcoming races, shoe wear pattern, shoe selection, functional movement, range of motion, flexibility, strength, dynamic strength, power, running form, running flaws, and more!

In order to treat the whole person, you have get the whole picture.

Now, you probably have heard of "runner's knee" and maybe have even dealt with it yourself. This happens to be a common injury in runners. What many people refer to as runner's knee can actually be a few different problems, but it is largely called patellofemoral pain syndrome.

Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFFS) is a term that is over-diagnosed and not an accurate diagnosis. PFFS is a blanket term used to describe pain or injury that can happen at the front of the knee and is often used to diagnose runners.

As mentioned, there are a few different causes of pain that can happen at the front of the knee, with some of the more common ones being the following...

  • Patellar Tendinopathy - knee pain localized at the patellar just under the knee cap.  
  • Quadriceps Teninopathy - knee pain localized at the quad tendon just above the knee cap.
  • Infra-patellar Fat Pad Impingement - localized knee pain just under the knee cap, but it can be present just to the left or the right of the patellar tendon that can occur with squatting or jumping. 
  • Chondromalacia Patellae - slightly generalized knee pain that can be felt just behind the knee cap with squatting, running, or steps. Is due to softening or breaking down in cartilage.
  • Iliotibial Band Syndrome - blanket diagnoses for pain that is usually on the outside of the knee, but can cause problems and pain on the front of knee from time to time. Usually caused by poor mechanics resulting in repetitive friction of the IT-Band on the femur.

All of these issues can occur in runners and can also occur with those who exhibit a backseat running form. We'll go over this shortly, but all of these issues can be treated in-house at Alliance Regen and Rehab with sports rehab, training, and non-surgical regenerative medicine procedures.

Back seat running is simply running with a posture that is straight upright to to more of a backwards lean.

Posture during running is very important, but it is often just forgotten about. It's important to run with overall tall and strong posture, but in terms of backseat running running posture and this blog, we are referring to the overall lean in posture. Refer to the picture down below!!

You can see in the above picture that the runner has a certain posture, and we drew a posture line that shows just how "forward leaning" this runner is!

backseat running posture is when that line is actually tilted the other direction, specifically at this point in the running gait - in mid-stance as the knees are crossing one another! We call this "backseat running posture" because it almost looks like the runner is sitting down in the backseat. 

This posture is not very beneficial for running efficiency or for running health for a few reasons...

  • Places excessive stress on the anterior aspect of the knee
  • Is a more quad dominant running posture
  • Does not take advantage of the hamstrings, glutes, or calves.
  • Decreases efficiency due to "braking moment" that you have to overcome

All of these reasons are why this running posture has a high incidence for anterior knee pain.

So, How Can You Fix It? 

If you're dealing with knee pain, the first step is to get that knee pain checked out and to get answers on what exactly is going on. One opportunity that we provide for new patients is our Alliance Rx New Patient Evaluation. This is a 1-1.5 hour evaluation that includes a diagnostic ultrasound (real-time imaging scan) + a functional physical therapy exam that gives you both real insight into what tissue is injured, what the tissue looks like structurally, what functionally is contributing to the pain, and which mobility or strength restrictions are present!

On the running side of things, the place you need to start is by getting your posture more forward leaning.

CUE: One cue we love to give our clients is to just imaging yourself falling forward down a ski slope as you're running, BUT you can't loose your overall posture or change your stride.

DRILL: One drill is the falling drill. This drill involves standing a couple feet form the wall, table, or counter. Stay straight as a board, but start to lean forward from the ankles like you're going to fall on your face. BUT please don't do that. haha Go ahead and catch yourself with your hands just as you start to literally fall! Do this about 10-15  times before a run!

Those two things should be a great place to start if you are a backseat runner, and we hope that you learned something new about running form, running injuries, and becoming the best runner you can become.

If there are ever any questions, feel free to give us a call at 727-258-7224 or check out our website for other ways that we can help you overcome injury, prevent injury, and perform.

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