4 Common running mistakes which could be leading you down the road to injury

Do you experience pain when running? Read on to find out what could be causing your pain and what you can do about it.

The glute deactivator

You will spot this kind of runner either twisting excessively through their hips, running with a backwards lean, not fully extending their leg when pushing off, using their hamstrings and glutes to push off or all of the above!

What does this mean?

Glute deactivators will commonly find themselves injuring their knees and hips due to the excess forces going through these joints. They may also find their quads and hamstrings getting sore and tight as these muscles need to work overtime to push your legs off the ground.

Is this me?

You can test if you are a glute deactivator by placing both hands on the back of your head with your elbows out to the sides. If your elbows are swinging back and forth this means you are not extending through your glutes and stabilising through your core and so your hips are twisting back to get that extra extension.

How can I fix it?

As the name suggests this is usually caused by poor glute activation and strength or tight hip flexors but it can also be caused by another issue in the hip which is making the runner avoid putting too much weight through that hip.

sleepy glutes

You can see this sprinter is a glute deactivator as he is not fully extending his leg when pushing off.

This would really stress out his quads and hamstrings!

The collapser

You will spot this runner collapsing through their knee with every step and dropping the opposite hip almost like their legs are unable to support their weight.

What does this mean?

Collapsers will often complain of pain on the outside of the hip and the thigh, knee pain and pain on the inside of the foot and ankle. These problems are caused by the abnormal loading of the joints and extra pressure being place on the muscles of the hip, knee and ankle.

Is this me?

You can test out if you are a collapser by having a friend look at you as you perform some walking lunges to see if either hip is dropping or if your knee is collapsing inwards.

How can I fix it?

The key to fixing this issue is to improve the control and endurance of the muscles on the outside of the hip.


This runner is a collapser as their knee is collapsing inwards and the opposite hip is dropping.

The overstrider

You will spot this runner taking larger than normal strides and striking the ground with their foot ahead of their center of gravity.

What does this mean?

Overstriders will often complain of pain in their knees and feet due to the excessive forces passing through their legs. Overstriders also run the risk of developing stress fractures in the small bones in their feet, tibia and less commonly their femur.

Is this me?

The easiest way to find out if you are an overstrider is to get a running assessment to look at your running style from side on in both real time and in slow motion.

How can I fix it?

Like the glute deactivator this can also be caused by abnormal activation of the glutes which prevents you from pulling your leg back under your body when striking the ground. It can also be caused by running with a slower than normal cadence. To measure your cadence count how many steps you take with one leg in one minute. This number should be close to 90 no matter what pace you are running at.


This picture illustrates how an overstrider strikes the ground with their foot ahead of their center of gravity.


The criss-crosser

You will spot this runner crossing their legs over the mid-line of their body with each step, almost like they are running on a tightrope.

What does this mean?

Criss-crossers might find themselves sore on the inside of their knee, the outside of their thigh, the arch of their foot or the outside of the balls of their feet due to the excess pressure being placed on these areas.

Is this me?

You can test out if you are a criss-crosser by running with wet shoes on a concrete surface or running on the beach and drawing a line through the middle of your foot print to see if your feet are crossing over. Though an easier alternative is to have a video analysis of your foot striking the ground.

How can I fix it?

This can be caused by poor core and glutes control which causes the runner to shift their weight side to side to maintain balance.


Notice how each footstep is crossing over the dotted line in the middle.


What Next?

A thorough physical assessment by a trained physiotherapist can identify the muscle imbalances and weaknesses that could be driving your pain. For an even more detailed look, a video running analysis examines how you run and can get to the root of the cause of your injury. If you are frustrated by pain during your run,  please make an appointment with Jon or Rob at Coast Allied Health.

By Jon McLennan,

Jon has over 17 years expRunning pictureerience running as both an elite runner, competing on the national circuit, and now as a recreational runner.

Physiotherapist at Coast Allied Health

Jon practices from the Vincentia and Culburra Beach clinics.