Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid /

Running posture and knee pain

Written by: Paul Kochoa, PT, DPT, OCS, CKTP, CGFI

So perhaps research and science is catching up to all those fancy running theories that all those running gurus have been teaching for years.  Your running posture affects your knees.  Recently, I came across an article in my inbox that detailed several old studies and new studies regarding forward trunk lean and its effect on running and knee mechanics.

Basically, running theories from Chi-running to barefoot running like Born to Run have taught that a slight forward lean is better than running up straight.  Now, researchers are putting numbers on the theories and noticing that a forward lean as little as 8-10 degrees can decrease the compressive forces on the knee joint.

The knee joint and the patella (kneecap) is basically a hinge joint with a pulley of the front of it.  When the muscles in the front of your thigh (quadriceps) contract, they create force that pulls the patella up, which helps to straighten your knee.  Depending on the knee angle when the quadriceps contract, there can be more compressive force rather than an upward force.

With a forward trunk lean with running, you can decrease the compressive force on the knee and engage the hip and glute muscles more to accept the load and shock of running.

You can try a little experiment yourself.  If you stand up straight, and lean your trunk backwards, you should feel your quadriceps muscles and your shin muscles contract to keep you from falling backwards.  If you lean your trunk forward, you should feel your glutes, hamstrings, and calf muscles contract to keep you upright.  It’s biomechanics, your body position can change the forces and recruitment of your muscles.

If you’ve had knee pain in the past with running, the next time you’re out, try a little forward trunk lean and see you your knees feel.  If you would like more information, please call Professional Physical Therapy and Training at 973-270-7417.  Our offices are located within the YMCA locations in Madison and Summit, NJ.  You do not need to be a member of the YMCA to visit with us.

Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid /