Abstract It is unclear whether small animals with their high stride frequency and crouched posture or large animals with more tendinous limbs are more reliant on storage and return of elastic energy during locomotion. The ostrich has a limb structure that appears to be adapted for high speed running with long tendons and short muscle fibres. Here we investigate biomechanics of ostrich gait through growth and, with consideration of anatomical data, identify scaling relationships with increasing body size, relating to forces acting on the musculoskeletal structures, effective mechanical advantage (EMA) and mechanical work. Kinematic and kinetic data were collected through growth from running ostriches. Joint moments scaled in a similar way to the pelvic limb segments as a result of consistent posture through growth, such that EMA was independent of body mass. Since no postural change was observed, relative loads applied to musculoskeletal tissues would be predicted to increase during growth, with greater muscle, and hence tendon, load allowing increased potential for elastic energy storage with increasing size. Mass specific mechanical work per unit distance was independent of body mass, resulting in a small but significant increase in the contribution of elastic energy storage to locomotor economy in larger ostriches.