Diana Clement has her running style checked out - and is surprised by what the experts find is causing her aches and pains.

It's astounding to think that a sore toe joint could be cause by inflexibility in the hips.

This is one of the fascinating pieces of information I picked up on a visit to the AUT's Clinic for Running Mechanics.

The clinic opened in 2008 thanks to a gap in the market and the university's mandate for community engagement. Its clients include injured sports people and those, like me, who want to prevent injuries before they happen.

Clients turn up with all sorts of problems that their physiotherapists and other medical professionals have hit a brick wall with.

Hundreds of sports people have attended the clinic ranging from a 6-year-old soccer player who was getting sore knees every time she ran on the pitch, to a 68-year-old marathon runner whose family bought him a voucher as a Christmas present for the man who has everything.

Clinic for Running Mechanics manager Kelly Sheerin, a trained physiotherapist, does research for the university on running gait, lower extremity injuries and general sports injury prevention and rehabilitation.

The most common problems he sees at the North Shore clinic are knee and shin-related injuries. The most difficult-to-deal-with injuries are stress fractures.

Sheerin says about 20 per cent of clients are simply running in the wrong shoes, which give them too little (or too much) support, resulting in them running un-naturally.

Over the years I've suffered the usual run-of-the-mill running injuries: runner's knee, shin splints, bursitis and general aches and pains. I've also consulted a number of professionals along the way, who concentrated on fixing the problem at hand.

On the verge of starting my training for the Adidas Auckland Half Marathon, a visit to the AUT clinic seemed like a sensible idea.

My body, after all, isn't getting younger.

Sheerin's assessment started with a discussion of my running and injury history, a forensic examination of my shoes, looking for wear patterns and fractures in the EVA foam, and a test and measurements of my flexibility and strength.

Then it's on to the treadmill barefoot and then in shoes, to see how my feet and legs behave when walking and running.

My expectation, through understanding how my body feels when I run, was that Sheerin would find problems with my knees and ankles.

Never once did I consider that the injuries, which were all knee and below, could have be caused by imbalances further up the body.

It turned out in my case that weak and inflexible hip flexors and deep gluteal muscles, compounded by over-flexible calves and a poor arm swing, were causing me to run in an unnatural gait, and put increased strain on my lower joints.

If there was any doubt in my mind, the clinic's scientific video analysis, played back in slow motion put paid to that.

The good news is that I'm not going to have to do daily exercises for the rest of my life to correct the problems.

Sheerin's report recommended a six-week course of strengthening and stretching, which gives me light at the end of the tunnel.

* The AUT Clinic for Running Mechanics offers two main services: a basic one-hour assessment for $130 ($65 on ACC) or a comprehensive evaluation and report for $395 ($270 on ACC). Later this year, the clinic will move to the Millennium Centre in Mairangi Bay and is getting state-of-the-art equipment.