Runners Get a Step Ahead at Drexel

Originally posted on DrexelNow.

Runners and other athletes who have experienced an injury know how vital physical therapy is at helping them get back on their feet.

But even runners who aren’t injured may be putting themselves at risk—and by consulting with physical therapists, they can make changes to their form to keep them going strong, prevent future injuries and even improve their performance.

“Research estimates that between 50-70 percent of runners are injured over the course of a year,” said Robert Maschi, PT, DPT, OCS an assistant clinical professor in Drexel’s College of Nursing and Health Professions who is a leader in the area of running analysis and gait retraining. “Small changes in form have a big effect on the load on the body, and on injury risk.”

Maschi and colleagues at Drexel now offer a suite of physical therapy and other health services specifically geared toward helping runners prevent injury or step up their performance, in addition to existing services for runners recovering from injuries. The new and growing set of health services from Drexel’s College of Nursing and Health Professions is available at the new Parkway Health & Wellness location in Center City, as well as at Drexel’s Recreation Center on the University City campus.

Runners who come for comprehensive assessment receive individual, detailed feedback about their unique running mechanics. Assessments include a thorough analysis of medical and running history as well as a high-tech gait analysis. In this testing, runners perform specific movement screening tests and then run on a treadmill that is monitored by video from multiple angles; physical therapists then use a software program to perform a two-dimensional motion analysis on the video.

“From the video, we can assess joint positions and movement patterns and measure different distances and angles using the software, thus generating a report that looks at various aspects of the client’s running mechanics and running gait,” Maschi said.

Maschi and the other physical therapists performing these assessments then review results with their clients. They may make recommendations to change an aspect of their running form, such as to increase or decrease step length, or to change step width. “Foot strike patterns have different implications for the way that tissues get loaded, and we may make modifications based on that,” Maschi said.

Clients can then take home a detailed packet of personalized information and photos of their own running form, along with the physical therapist’s recommendations.

“It’s a lot different to actually see yourself and your physical form when running, compared to how you think you look when you run,” said Kevin Gard, PT, DPT, OCS, a clinical professor and director of the doctoral program in physical therapy in Drexel’s College of Nursing and Health Professions.

At Parkway Health & Wellness, runners can also participate in research studies about running-related health concerns such as plantar fasciitis. Researchers in Drexel’s Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences are currently conducting several studies of running injury and are hoping to shed light on reasons behind the high rate of injury and aid prevention.

Services for runners at Drexel’s Parkway Health & Wellness site will also soon expand to include close integration with nutrition and performance counseling, physiological testing, behavioral health counseling to address behavioral aspects of performance and a thorough integration with all other services available to patients at that location.

Most insurance is accepted for medically necessary physical therapy services. The running analysis assessment service is available for a fee of $200. To schedule an appointment for running analysis or physical therapy services, contact: 215.571.4287, or email

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