Gait analysis can help you run better

👁 2330
gait analysis

You must have decided to run at some point in your time. It can be for fitness or a goal to complete an endurance event. Many may be training for an event at various levels. However, many of us get injured, unable to perform better, get stuck at a pace or time, or start getting bored after seeing no progress. What most of us don’t do is ask ourselves, “Why is it happening?” Surprisingly about 62% of the runners have a technical issue with their gait. Since most of us have no idea what it is, we are unable to resolve our issues.

What is gait?

It is how your body moves when you are running. It consists of how you carry your arms, your legs, and the rest of the body while running. It is a total of your complete running technique. Like a fingerprint, no two runners will ever have the same gait. Your gait is unique. Also, remember that there is no perfect running gait. There are few fundamentals but what can be good for me may not be good for you. Hence if we take care of a few fundamentals, we can improve our gait for injury-free running and also improve our performance.

How to identify your gait issue?

Use various analysts to record your running and then convert it into 3D charts to study every aspect of gait. However, you can do a basic analysis by looking at your running in slow motion from various angles and also calculating various things such as stride length, time spent on the ground, angle of the knee at the time of shifting weight, etc. If you know the fundamentals of a correct gait, you can build your style around that. What you need is to identify the problem. Once you do that you will start running longer, stronger, and injury-free. Let us see few basics of running gaits.

Ground contact time

If your feet are spending too much time on the ground, probably your hips are collapsing giving your gait a sinking into the ground feeling. Remember if you have stable hips, the knee falls correctly, the ankle is strong and the leg and core muscles are supporting well, you will not spend too much time. Spending more on the ground means you are stressing your joints and passing the stride shock from the lowest joint upwards. Hence you can develop a problem in the ankle, shin splint, knee, hips, lower back, neck, or even headache.

To reduce time on the ground, you need to do some jumping and hopping drills. These drills reduce the reaction time of the muscles and also increase strength. These drills also work on the flexibility of tendons and ligaments.

You have limited mobility

You may not have noticed but various factors of gait including stride length, cadence, etc. depend on your joint mobility. Limited mobility of the hip (flexion, extension, rotation) leads to unstable stride putting too much stress on knees. Since you are motivated and want to run faster, longer, and better, you force yourself through your limitations. Not realizing that you may have achieved a single run, however, you have stressed your ligaments and tendons making all joints vulnerable to injury. 

Few important things you can do here are to ensure you have equal muscle strength in an opposite muscle group, for example, quads and hamstrings. Also, you need to work on the mobility and flexibility of joints. Most of the runners do a lot of running, very little stretching, negligible strength training, and no mobility training. A foam roller is an excellent tool to help restore or improve mobility.

Overstriding

Overstriding affects most runners at some part of the training or other. Overstriding has been linked to maximum running injuries. When we run, we have to ensure to synchronize our movements. However, when we overstride we force our lower body to go out of coordination with the upper body. This detaches the shock-absorbing process which happens at every joint. Hence overstriding will result in plantar fasciitis, ankle, shin, and knee. 

Overstriding is easy to check. You have to ensure that your foot falls below the body’s center of gravity point and not ahead. Thus the impact of the foot striking the ground travels up in a synchronized manner absorbing shock at every level. Also, the formation of joints supports such a stride. 

You must perform 200 meters or 400 meters running ensuring correct footfall. Repeating the process helps your brain connect your body with the correct stride. The best way to increase your stride length is by increasing your flexibility and mobility.

Front foot or heel strike

Short-distance runners generally run on the toes. They often complain about turf toe injuries. Heel strikers generally lay more stress on joints. Heel strike has also been liked to some blood loss inside arteriole of the foot area. Front foot running is good for short sprints say up to 200 or 400 meters. But even for that, you have to work on your toe ligaments. Long-distance running and training on the toe are completely not recommended. It will surely land you with some foot injury. Heel strike is also a cause of joint pains after running. One must practice running on the middle foot. The ball of the foot is the area that should contact the ground and then the feet should roll over for the next stride.

There are simple drills you can do to practice this. One way of doing it is to stand at one arm’s length away from the wall and then lean halfway to the wall. Support your upper body with your hands on the wall and raise your one leg such that your quads are parallel to the ground. Now take a step down insuring you just touch the ball of the foot on the ground and then take it up again. Do it on one leg a few times and then change the leg. Do this drill every time before you go for a run. 

Conclusion 

You must concentrate on your gait if you want o get rid of repeated running injuries or want to perform better. An analysis is not difficult. Take help from an experienced runner or a professional analyst. If you do not find anyone, just study your stride by comparing it with others and see the difference. Study what is fundamental and apply it to your gait. 

Leave a Reply

Back to top

Sign up For Our Newsletter

X