By Rehan Iqbal
Are you a runner with a history of injuries? Do you struggle to find a good pair of shoes that just feel comfortable? The reason may be far simpler than you think, read on to find out how to fix this straightforward problem.
Have you heard the phrase gait, or gait analysis only to be left confused as you have no idea what it means? Have you heard of pronation and what that means for you as a runner? Well, don’t worry, because in this article we’re going to take a closer look at a simple process which could change your life as a runner forever.
What is Running Gait?
Gait refers to your posture and how you move on your feet, moreover, your technique, style, and pattern as your feet strike and leave the floor.
Everyone’s gait is different, how we move is impacted by our height, weight, body type, and more, with many experts believing our gait is formed as infants when we begin to crawl.
When referring to ‘running gait’ we are talking about the same thing and it simply means your running technique and how your body moves. As a runner, you may also be familiar with the concept of pronation and what this means for your technique, if not, don’t worry as we’ll go into more detail below.
The Facts About Pronation
There are three types of pronation that you need to know about, normal, under and over-pronation. It’s important to know which one you are as it could explain previous injuries. It could also help you to pick the right type of shoe for your needs, and therefore help to improve performance and reduce the risk of injury.
Neutral / Normal Pronation
In neutral pronation, the foot strikes the ground in a controlled manner, and force is distributed evenly throughout the foot. When you push off and leave the ground there is again even pressure throughout the foot as it rolls naturally, in a controlled and efficient manner.
Underpronation / Supination
Those with overpronation will roll their feet inwards and will move the weight to the inside of their foot instead of to the center. Overpronation is common in people with flat feet or low arches and it can lead to pressure and strain on the muscles and tendons in the foot as they are reluctantly stretched.
What is Gait Analysis? (diagnosing pronation)
Gait analysis essentially means taking a look at your biometric information to analyze how your body moves, your running style and also assessing to what degree there is any pronation or supination in your feet. However, it’s important to remember that gait analysis is more than just outlining your type of pronation, it also looks at how your entire body moves when you run as a result of the way you strike and leave the floor.
How is Gait Analysis Done?
Although each store may offer additional services Gait analysis is fairly simple and follows a similar format.
You will be asked questions about your running, such as:
“How often do you currently run?”
“What mileage do you cover?”
“What trainers are you currently using?”
And you will be asked to provide an overview of your running goals and injury history.
Be prepared to go barefoot, before walking, squatting, or moving around the store and you should also be asked to run on a treadmill in different types of shoes (often starting with a neutral shoe) to test how you perform in them.
All of this information will be used to assess your biomechanics and analyze how your body is moving, taking into account whether or not you are displaying any type of imbalances or misalignment.
From here you will be able to discuss and try on different types of footwear that can support your gait.
The whole process lasts less than 30 minutes.
Where Can you go for a Gait Analysis?
Most running shops offer free gait analysis assessments that are carried out directly in the store and depending on the store, they can offer a fairly comprehensive assessment of your gait, with suitable recommendations for the best type of shoe for you.
However, if you cannot get to a store or you struggle to get booked in it is possible to do your gait analysis at home. You can do this in two different ways:
- 1Take pictures – Stand barefoot on a solid surface and take a photograph of the back of your lower legs. You may be able to identify your arch type, especially if you have a very obvious pronation and this could be an easy way to make a diagnosis. This may not be the most accurate method but it could give you a good idea until you make it to a store.
- 2Use the wet footprint method – The wet footprint method is a simple way of checking your gait at home and is fairly simple to do. Simply wet your feet with water then step straight onto a surface where you can see the imprint of your feet (and your arch). A piece of card or a dark bathroom tile could work great for this, just be sure that you can clearly see the imprint. By looking at how much of your sole is visible, you should be able to identify your arch type and type of pronation.
It goes without saying that actually getting to the store may be the best method but the at-home methods could give you a good idea of your gait until you can get a proper check.
What are the Benefits of Gait Analysis?
Gait analysis is a fantastic way of analyzing both your full-body movement and your running pattern in addition to fully assessing how your feet move and your type of pronation.
You will get help identifying the right type of shoe for you and this could be one of the simplest ways in limiting or reducing the likelihood of you developing injuries when running.
Is it Worth it?
Unless you’re an advanced, seasoned runner, it is absolutely worth getting it done.
Not only could it provide you with a wealth of information to help identify your running pattern and find the right type of shoes for your gait, but it could also help you to shed light on why you may get injured and how to prevent them in the future.
At the very least, it’s free and takes less than 30 minutes so even if you think you know the answers, it could still be useful to undergo.
Too many people think that running is as simple as lacing up a pair of sneakers and putting one foot in front of the others, but to simplify it down to that level is to say that driving is simply getting into a car and putting your foot on the gas. As you drive further, and more often, it’s going to be wise to get a few things checked to ensure you’re safe, protected and not at risk of hurting yourself and every now and then you may want to check the tires, brakes, and oil.
A gait analysis offers the same reassurances and for something which can be quickly completed, and doesn’t cost any additional money, we can’t overstate enough just how useful it could be.
One quick assessment could shed light on years of running-related injuries not to mention the money it could save you from splashing out on ineffective shoes or running aids.
For us, there is only one option. If you’re a runner that is serious about performing to the best of your ability, get a gait analysis, you’ve got nothing to lose.