Leg crossover while running may seem like an unimportant thing to consider, but it may be worth your while to address. We normally don’t try to “fix” everyone’s running gait, as there is no one proper way to run. However, injury or poor performance can be an indicator that something should be addressed, and there are a handful of drills we find appropriate for most runners to master. This blog will serve to address the times when runners find their legs cross over while running.
Cross over is when your legs cross the midline of your body when they hit the ground. Or in other words, it’s like running on a tightrope or a balance beam rather than running like there is some space between your feet. It is not always necessary to address unique gait deviations while running, but sometimes it is worth the return on investment. When it comes to crossover, there can be knee issues, hip weakness, or increased stress on other areas of the body. Altogether this can lead to further injury or decreased performance, or both.
Before we get too crazy with unique exercises, let’s start with some basic drills. We place high value in farmer carries and marching variations for our runners. These exercises pack a big punch when it comes to return on investment, and that can be doubly so when doing it as a runner with a crossover running gait. Painting with a broad brush is a welcomed benefit. So how do you do this?
The easiest way to work this drill into your strength routine is to find a piece of white athletic tape (can be purchased at any pharmacy or sporting goods store) on the ground. First, try and walk down that line keeping your right foot on the right side of the tape, and the left foot on the left side. Walk slowly and focus on the basic heel-to-toe foot position.
The progression from here is holding weights in either hand for the “Farmer Carry” drill. Again focus on the heel to toe and slow controlled movements. Ideally starting with 10-20% of your body weight is a good idea. Try a few sets of up to 60 seconds each.
From here you can move to a “march” and then increase the weight or use a weight vest. You can also hold the heavier weight in a “Goblet Position” up on your chest, or you can use a barbell on your shoulders. Any axial load will help challenge your body and hips while maintaining proper L-R foot alignment on the tape. It is very important to move up to a marching variation to challenge your legs sufficiently for this drill.
Once you can perform 3 sets of 1 minute with some heavyweight and marching, it might not be a bad idea to work on the treadmill. As long as the tape isn’t permanent (if you’re at a fitness facility) put a line of tape on the middle of the belt and use that as a guide. Start with some easy run paces and get comfortable using this on the treadmills. See how it feels to maintain proper leg alignment on their respective sides.
Over time, these drills can help correct a crossover leg position and also strengthen the hips. Both of these benefits will aid in improving performance and decreasing your risk of injury while running.
We hope you try these out and let us know what you think.