Published On: October 25th, 2023Tags:

About the Author: Meg Pezzino, PT, DPT

Dr. Meg Pezzino is a MovementX physical therapist and board certified sports specialist in Arlington, Virginia. Her specialties include running gait analysis, running shoe fittings, injury prevention, and dry needling.

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Running Strong: The Vital Role of Specialized Running Physical Therapy

Running, with its numerous physical and mental benefits, has captured the hearts of millions around the world. Yet, it’s a sport that can take a toll on the body, often leading to a range of injuries and discomfort.

There is an endless world of physical therapy options, but not many physical therapists are trained to specifically work with runners. Just like in any medical profession, medical professionals all have their speciality.

If you have cardiac issues, you should seek the care of a cardiologist. If you are having tooth pain, you should pay a visit to your dentist. So if you are a runner that has been suffering with a running injury, why not find a physical therapist that specializes in treating runners?


The Rise of the Running Specialist

This is where specialized running physical therapy comes into play. At MovementX, we didn’t want to stand for the status quo, so we are working on creating a specialist certification for physical therapists that treat runners.

All who get certified by MovementX have extensive education specifically geared towards treating the injured runner (and preventing common running related injuries) and be able to deliver all of the critical ingredients of specialized care described below.

In this blog, we’ll delve into why runners need this unique form of physical therapy, how it differs from general physical therapy, and the numerous advantages it offers to runners of all levels.


MovementX running physical therapist meg pezzino performing a running gait analysis in washington dc

Understanding the Runner’s World

There is so much more to running than just lacing up your favorite running shoes and going out for a jog; it’s a sport with distinct mechanics and demands. Specialized running physical therapists have a deep understanding of the biomechanics involved in running, as well as the specific injuries that runners are prone to. This knowledge allows them to tailor their treatment plans precisely to a runner’s needs.


Accurate Diagnosis and Assessment

Specialized running physical therapists can provide a more accurate diagnosis and assessment of running-related injuries. They are skilled at identifying issues like overuse injuries, gait abnormalities, muscle imbalances, and even the intricacies of shoe selection—all of which can impact a runner’s performance and comfort.


MovementX running physical therapist meg pezzino performing an injury assessment for plantar fasciitis on a runner

Tailored Runner Specific Treatment Plans

What sets specialized running physical therapy apart is its personalized approach on a runner’s specific needs and goals.

These therapists take into account not just the injury at hand but also the runner’s goals, training history, running style, functional movement patterns, shoewear, strength and range of motion.

They craft customized treatment plans that are specific to your needs as a runner. This is crucial in alleviating current issues but also work toward injury prevention and performance enhancement.


MovementX running physical therapist meg pezzino performing a running gait analysis in arlington virginia for a male runner on a treadmill

Video Analysis and Gait Assessment

This is really where the bread and butter of injury prevention lies. Most physical therapists are not trained to perform a running video analysis and provide corrections through run retraining drills.

By performing a video run analysis we can understand a runner’s biomechanics and how they are contributing to injury. This technology can provide invaluable insights into factors like foot strike, stride length, and posture. The therapist can then make precise recommendations for adjustments, footwear, and functional running exercises.


Comprehensive Rehabilitation Plans

Recovering from a running-related injury isn’t just about pain relief or “getting through” your race. We don’t want to put a band-aid on the issue; rather, we want to find the roots and FIX the issue.

Runners need a plan of care that focuses on run specific exercises. Exercises that challenge the runner in movements that we use for running are essential to allowing the correct muscles to fire and propel us forward.

The plan created by your physical therapist should focus on rebuilding strength, flexibility, and endurance while addressing the underlying issues that caused the injury. Specialized therapists create comprehensive rehabilitation plans that focus on returning the runner to optimal form and function.


MovementX running physical therapist meg pezzino performing a running gait analysis and showing an ipad with the results to a runner in northern virginia

Injury Prevention Strategies

Preventing injuries is just as important as treating them. Specialized running physical therapists work with runners to develop injury prevention strategies, such as strengthening exercises, mobility drills, recovery and guidance on pacing and training intensity.


Performance Enhancement

Beyond injury prevention, specialized running physical therapy can enhance a runner’s performance. By fine-tuning running mechanics and addressing any inefficiencies or imbalances, runners can potentially improve their speed, endurance, and overall running economy.


a runner jumping in stride practice in arlington virginia

Knowledge of Running Gear and Footwear

Running gear, particularly shoes, play a significant role in injury prevention and performance. Specialized therapists can provide recommendations on the right type of footwear for a runner’s specific needs and can advise on when to replace worn-out shoes.


Psychological Support

Running injuries can be mentally challenging. Specialized therapists understand the psychological aspects of the sport and provide runners with the emotional support and motivation needed to stay positive throughout the recovery process.



Specialized running physical therapy is a game-changer for runners looking to overcome injuries, prevent future problems, and improve their overall performance. As with any medical issue, you want to find a medical professional that specializes in your specific needs. With their in-depth knowledge of running mechanics, precise diagnosis and treatment plans, and a focus on personalized care, running specialized physical therapists are invaluable partners in a runner’s journey to run stronger, longer, and healthier. So, the next time you lace up your running shoes, remember that finding a PT that specializes in running physical therapy is crucial to help you stay on track, pain-free, and reach your running goals.

About the Author

Dr. Meg Pezzino is a physical therapist in Northern Virginia with MovementX. As a Board Certified Specialist in Sports Physical Therapy with over 14 years of experience, she loves helping runners stay healthy, fast, and injury-free. She offers a suite of specialized physical therapy services for runners, including shoe fitting, slow motion gait analysis, and more.

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