Poor Running Patterns

The Difference Between Running and Walking

Running has a ‘flight’ phase, meaning there is a fraction of time where both feet are off the ground, whereas during walking, one foot will be on the ground at all times.

Development of Running in Children

Infants will typically start to crawl, walk and then run! Running begins to develop after two years of age. In the beginning, a child’s running pattern will often include a double support phase (both feet on the ground for a period of time) which is a component of walking and not included in a typical running pattern. As your child ages and develops, their running pattern will also develop and begin to resemble that of an adult more closely.

Variations in Running Patterns

Children (and adults!) may run with different patterns including different foot positions and styles.

A physiotherapy assessment is warranted if your child is showing any of the following during their running:

  • Antalgic or painful gait (your child will avoid weight-bearing on a specific side due to pain)
  • Excessively swinging the legs out to the side
  • Toe-walking pattern during running
  • Reduced speed compared to siblings or peers
  • Clumsy gait and difficulty completing activities of daily living (toileting, dressing, brushing hair, etc.)

How Physiotherapy Can Help

Physiotherapy can help assess and diagnose any potential abnormalities in foot positioning, structure, gait pattern, or muscle imbalances. Once the culprit for the poor running pattern is uncovered, physiotherapists can provide treatment through passive stretching of muscles, play-based treatment to strengthen or stretch specific muscles, analyzing running gait, and providing recommendations or suggestions on how to best correct any abnormalities.