The Performance Matrix

Running and The Performance Matrix Part 2

19th May 2014

Part 2- Screening and Movement Analysis for Runners – What, Why and How?

As outlined in the first part of this blog there is a real need to assess movement control and movement capacity of runners and ultimately to identify any ‘weak links’ (areas of poorly controlled movement).

A screen/movement analysis is a series of movement control tests that allow us to identify the ability of a runner to control movements that research and clinical practice tell us are important to withstanding the demands of running.

In The Running Matrix these tests are broken down into two main parts; motor control & coordination (low level movement control) and Strength/Speed (high level movement control). This is vital, as we know from the research highlight in the first part of the blog that unless we are specific to the problem we will not have the required effect.


“But running is just a straight line activity” your clients will argue. However as we would say the aim of any good programme (rehab, conditioning or prevention) is to optimise movement and ensure that everything is doing its job. If we do not have optimal low and high-level movement control then our power muscles are overstressed and this is where injury occurs.


To highlight how the screening process works we have taken an existing client and provided a summary of their background and results.

This client had been through physiotherapy and some traditional rehabilitation and had some good resolution of their symptoms. They were referred to have a movement screen to identify what the underlying causes of his injuries and pain were and to put a plan in place to ensure that the symptoms did not return.

This is one common reason why people will access a Running Matrix Screen, to try and reduce the recurrence rate of their symptoms. Another is to improve the ease of movement, which can help to ensure good technique.

Case Study

Male, Office Worker
Sport: Recreational Runner
Injury History: Chronic Lower Back Pain, Right Patella Tendinopathy & Left Achilles Tendinopathy
Profile report: Running Matrix Result: 40/50
Key Movemetn Faults Identified in The Running Matrix 9detailed by site, direction and threshold of uncontrolled movement

  • Low Back Pelvis, Rotation,  Low Threshold

  • Foot, Pronation, Low Threshold

  • Hip Medial Rotation, Low Threshold

  • High Threshold Hip Medial Rotation 

The priorities for resolving weak links and the strategies used to achieve this will be discussed in the final part of the blog.

Weak Links and Running Technique

As many of us who work with runners a lot know there are some who have good running technique and others that do not. Whilst there is not one correct way of running, there are some common technique faults that can increase stress on the body.

  • Excessive Upper Body/Pelvis Rotation

  • Cross-over of the Feet – The feet cross the midline of the body as seen from behind

  • Excessive Pronation – This obviously can be caused by a structural issue but is often contributed to by a lack of stability

  • Over striding – This is where the client lands ahead of their centre of gravity in a side on view.

So how can these technique faults be caused or exacerbated by weak links (areas of uncontrolled motion)?

Let’s look at each of above technique faults and relate them to the most likely stability cause.

  • Excessive Upper Body/Pelvis Rotation

    Cause: Lack of ability to control rotation of the lumbar spine/pelvis. The control is not sufficient to control the rotation motion of the pelvis through the gait cycle.

  • Cross-over of the Feet

    Cause: Poor control of sidebending of the spine or hip medial rotation. This is because either will allow the pelvis to drop that will allow the leg to come under the body.

  • Excessive Pronation

    Cause: Poor control of the lower leg and medial rotation of the hip which drives the motion from top down

  • Over striding

    Cause: Hip flexion as this prevents a good running posture and makes it more difficult to be propulsive during gait

Therefore with this in mind we would expect the runner in our case study to have problems with excessive pronation and rotation of the lower back and pelvis, which clearly relate to his previous history of injury.

In using this screening protocol we have the ability to identify the underpinning cause of many recurrent injuries or better still prevent them from occurring in the first place.

This should be appealing to us as practitioners to ensure the success of our treatment but it should also be very appealing to runners who have often been plagued with niggling injuries. As such it provides clinicians with the opportunity to offer a unique and valuable service to a huge market of injured (or previously injured) runners.

Check out The Running Solution here.


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