There are a lot of different areas to analyze when it comes to running form. But one in particular which is important from a shock absorption and stability standpoint is called contralateral pelvic drop (see image below). This is easily overlooked for foot strike pattern, stride length, and vertical oscillation, but is vital to promote frontal plane efficiency as you run.
Plain and simple, contralateral pelvic drop occurs when the opposite side pelvis drops during the initial loading response and/or the stance phase of running. What’s important to realize is that the opposite side pelvis is supposed to drop while running. I’m in no way attempting to say that the pelvis needs to remain completely level. But through the research we know this should equate to around 3-degrees or so, and anything more is deemed excessive.
Therefore, it’s important not to automatically assume contralateral pelvic drop is bad just like we have done with pronation over the years. Both of these are normal shock absorption strategies for the lower body when landing and loading on a single leg. But to optimize function of the lower limb, both need to happen properly rather then excessively to create stable and efficient movement, as well as to mitigate potential injury risk.
Over the years I have been fortunate to work with runners in sports medicine clinics, gyms, private fitness studios, and sports performance facilities. What this has allowed is the ability to watch hundreds of people move on a daily basis. There is often a lack of knowledge and instruction when it comes to pelvic control that can limit performance and create compensations associated with pain at the lower back, hip, knee, and foot.
Recently I created a video discussing contralateral pelvic drop and how to address this within your strength training program. With the majority of my running clients, we execute programs that address strength training and running retraining simultaneously rather then placing priority on one versus the other.
Fortunately, there is growing research and understanding that strength training is necessary for runners. However, I find that this is taken too literally as the majority of runners are focusing on strength over shock absorption, stability, and lower limb alignment. Improving strength can certainly make you faster and more resilient to running-related injuries, but the tips I provide in this video will lead to more efficient and economical running.
Do you have any questions about this content or are curious how contralateral pelvic drop relates to you? Click here to contact Garrett and schedule your running analysis now.
By: Garrett McLaughlin, MS, ATC, CSCS, ART