The Runners Guide To Gait Analysis

gait cycle

Running is simple.

All you got to do is lace up your shoes and hit the pavement (or treadmill) running.

But if you’re looking to get more out of your miles, understanding how your body moves and the biomechanics involved can set you up for more success.

That’s where gait analysis comes into the picture.

Why and how come?

Keep on reading for the answers.

In today’s post, I’ll explain what gait analysis is all about and demystify some of the common misconceptions.

Sounds great?

Let’s lace up and dig in.

What Is Gait Analysis

Gait analysis is no exercise in futility but a scientifically-based and reliable process.

Gait analysis is a scientific method for finding and understanding biomechanical abnormalities and challenges in your gait cycle.

A gait analysis can help a runner by identifying any underactive or overactive muscles in the feet, which could contribute to inefficiencies and overuse injuries in the future

In simple terms, running gait analysis is a way to assess your running style.

It draws a clear piece of the picture of your unique running technique.

What’s not to like!

The two crucial things that make normal gait possible are your posture and your foot interface with the ground.

Any abnormalities will force you to overcompensate.

This, over the long haul, causes damage and/or injury to the affected limbs.

There’s plenty of various types of gait analysis that you can perform, some more complex than others, and some easier to have done.

Usually, gait analysis requires taking a short video (from the front, rear, and side) of roughly 30 seconds of running on a treadmill in a neutral shoe with little to no cushioning.

This helps the professional to take an in-depth look at what your body looks like and how you move as you run on the treadmill, putting the focus on any abnormalities in your gait.

In general, runners are divided into three main categories: neutral, overpronators, and supinators.

Understanding your pronation type is key for choosing the right running shoes and hopefully helping avoid injury.

How To Perform Gait Analysis

The cheapest way to analyze your gait involves a relatively quick (and usually free) treadmill test at a running specialty shop.

To get started, you’ll be put in a neutral shoe and start walking, or running, on a treadmill.

Then you run for a short period on the treadmill.

This allows the staff to assess how you’re landing, where you’re landing, and check for any biomechanical deficiencies within your ankles or knees.

The whole testing process may take 15 to 20 minutes.

Once the analysis is done, the staff will show you a frame by frame replay.

By analyzing the way you run and taking into consideration your fitness level, running goals, and injury history, the staff can make the right shoe recommendation that best suits your needs.

Gait Analysis Results

Some of the most common problems revealed and found out by gait analysis include;

  • Heel striking—when the foot lands in front of the hips.
  • Slow cadence—taking longer strides at a lower frequency.
  • Hip drop—caused by a lack of core strength
  • Lack of flexibility and strength, especially in the calves and glutes.

These issues, as well as others, can limit running performance and contributes to overuse injuries.