March 2017

Runners with PFP experience symptom improvement after gait modifications

In the moment: Sports medicine

By Jordana Bieze Foster

Running gait modifications designed to reduce patellofemoral loading also have immediate symptomatic benefits in patients with patellofemoral pain, according to research from Laval University in Quebec City, Canada.

In 32 rearfoot-striking runners with patellofemoral pain, investigators assessed the effects of three modifications: forefoot-strike running, increasing step rate by 10%, and running “softer.”

As expected, all modifications were associated with reduced patellofemoral joint force during running, compared with the participants’ normal running gait. But the modifications were also associated with immediate symptom improvement of at least one point out of 10; 62.5% of runners in the study experienced a positive symptomatic response to at least one of the gait modifications.

“Interventions that immediately induce a decrease in symptoms can really help with obtaining patients’ trust,” said Jean- Francois Esculier, BScPT, MSc, a doctoral student in the department of physical therapy at the university, who presented the findings in February at the American Physical Therapy Association’s Combined Sections Meeting in San Antonio, TX.


Esculier J-F, Bouyer LJ, Roy J-S. Immediate effects of gait retraining on symptoms and running mechanics of runners with patellofemoral pain. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2017;47(suppl 1):A9.

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