Running Medicine and Performance Clinic

The Running Medicine program at CHOP's Sports Medicine and Performance Center helps to combat the growing problem of running injuries in children. About 85 percent of all runners will incur a running related injury each year. Proper education and treatment plays a vital role in injury prevention and safe return of injured runners back to their pre-injury level of running.

We provide individualized evaluation and treatment for injured running athletes to help them safely return to healthy running. We also help healthy, non-injured runners to enhance their running performance and efficiency.

Components of a Running Evaluation

Musculoskeletal Evaluation

Like any patient seeking sports physical therapy services, runners will receive a thorough and complete physical therapy evaluation that will identify any musculoskeletal deficiencies and impairments. One of our qualified clinicians will gather pertinent information from a detailed patient history and comprehensive physical examination focusing on the individual's:

  • Strength
  • Flexibility
  • Joint mobility
  • Biomechanical assessment
  • Functional movements
  • Neuromuscular control

Gait and running mechanics evaluation

Our running medicine staff is specifically trained to recognize normal and abnormal movement patterns and biomechanical abnormalities associated with walking and running. Using state-of-the-art motion analysis software, we can assess gait mechanics and running technique more accurately and efficiently. We evaluate the runner at various angles while walking and running on a treadmill and over level ground to gather a more complete picture of performance.

Dartfish® motion analysis software

The Sports Medicine and Performance Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia utilizes Dartfish®, a state-of-the-art motion analysis software, to enhance our evaluation of running-related injuries. The software provides runners with first-hand information about their running mechanics and deficits to give them a better understanding of their individual impairments. Dartfish also allows runners and clinicians to visualize improvement and functional progress by side-by-side comparisons to past analyses.

Developing a care plan for the running athlete

Our running specialist will summarize all findings of the examination and discuss them with the runner and his/her family. The post- evaluation discussion will include:

  • Agreement on a treatment plan with time frames related to patient goals
  • Education about possible factors contributing to injury
  • Methods for increasing running performance
  • Shoe wear and orthoses recommendations and/or prescriptions
  • A copy of the running analysis video with written details 

We will then use the evaluation findings to develop a comprehensive and individualized plan of care for the runner.

Treatment options

Skilled physical therapy

If needed, we will recommend formal physical therapy services to restore balance to the runner’s musculoskeletal system. Treatment plans will be directly linked to the findings from the initial evaluation. Our staff is highly qualified in recognizing movement limitations and imbalances and designing a comprehensive treatment plan to meet the specific needs of the athlete.

Running form retraining

Along with formal physical therapy, patient care includes training athletes to become more efficient and safe runners. Using methods based on scientific principles, human biomechanics and running knowledge, our staff helps runners to adapt their running form to maximize safety, efficiency and optimal performance. Our staff has been formally trained in proper running form and technique to help runners achieve their goals. 

Multidisciplinary team approach

The Running Medicine and Performance Clinic works closely with other services at the Sports Medicine and Performance Center at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Based upon individual needs, it may be appropriate for the adolescent runner to work with other healthcare team members including sports nutrition, sports psychology, primary care sports physicians, and orthopedic surgeons.

Community-based services

Community outreach programs are available for running athletes, teams, coaches and families. Our running specialists will travel to a specified location or provide weekend clinical programming that may include:

  • Running injury information sessions
  • Proper running technique/form workshops
  • Injury prevention workshops
  • Running specific screenings