Running. When Less is More.

So it’s that time of the year, another City2Surf passes by and the Sydney Running Festival on this weekend. Training is supposed to be a long, hard slog right? Our team at NSSC explains why this doesn’t have to be the case…

The concept of training for an endurance race has always been to progressively overload your training, such that you start with short distances and gradually progress as you feel more comfortable. From a training perspective, this approach still holds true. This is assuming that one’s biomechanics are sound.

Deficits in the stability of the hip, knee or ankle will place load elsewhere along the biomechanical chain. Take the two images below from our video analysis of a runner as an example.

In the first image we can see the pelvis is level horizontally, the relationship of the hip, knee and ankle are quite balanced and you can see how the 3 joints almost stack up on top of each other. The individual seems to stand up more upright. This is a stable landing position.

Now compare with the second image, the pelvis is tilted down on the left side and the relationship of the hip, knee and ankle appear to be less balanced and the 3 joints no longer stack up on top of each other. Rather you can see that the hip appears off to the right. Also note that the individual looks to be falling to the left. This is a much less stable position.

This individual at the time the photo was taken, had just started training for a marathon and was complaining of right sided knee pain. Clearly the right leg is not absorbing the ground reaction forces as well as the left, hence the pain. In other words, inefficient loading of the right leg. Whilst running, the number of repetitions experienced on the inefficient right side is a high risk of injury. Interestingly, the pain someone experiences with such a presentation can vary from hip, knee, ankle, feet and/or lower back. Where the pain occurs doesn’t really give us much information as to why the pain is happening to start with. So although this runner is experiencing knee pain the cause of it is a dysfunctional/unstable pelvis.

Video analysis landing position running



When is running less, more?

Based on the above pictures, I would thus recommend the following:

  • Decrease the number of repetitions and loading on the hips until pain has subsided. Initially, this means less kilometres over the week.
  • Start retraining your hip and pelvic control. Try daily exercises like glute bridges, clams, hip hinges, kettle bell swings to name a few. Remember, QUALITY over QUANTITY.
  • Substitute your running sessions for a gym, yoga or a pilates session. Strength, flexibility and stability will compliment your running.
  • Gradually increase your kilometres. If you are unsure how much to increase by, use the 10% rule. That is gradually increase your distance by 10% each week. This way you are allowing your body to adapt slowly to the loads.
  • Once back to running with no pain, consider using different styles of running. Don’t just get back into long, slow, repetitive runs. Shortening your runs means less repetitions your body undergoes. Try adding some variety into your runs i.e. sprints, hills, steps or HIIT.


As much as you enjoy running, like most things in life, sometimes too much of a good thing is not good at all. Such is the case with running. If you have any running injuries that you need help with, or would like to have your running mechanics assessed with video analysis please get in contact with us.