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24 June, 2014 0 comments

Running Gait Analysis



Perfecting a good running style can not only contribute to improved running performance, but it also helps speed up recovery time for running related injuries, and reduces the risk of future running-related injuries.

Gait analysis looks at your body's movement (biomechanics) during running. It is commonly used to help athletes run more efficiently and to identify movement-related problems for people who have injuries.

During gait analysis, you will be asked to walk and run on a treadmill while a video records your movement. A slow-motion detailed analysis may then be performed to show and explain your biomechanics, specifically looking at pronation. Mark Holroyd, BUPA fitness expert, explains what the experts are looking out for.


What is pronation?

Pronation is the turning-inward movement of the foot that occurs when your foot touches the ground when you take a step. During walking and running this acts as cushioning for the body. Each person's foot is slightly different, but there are three main types of pronation:

It is useful to know what type you are as this affects the type of trainers you should wear.


What is neutral pronation?

A neutrally pronating foot will step with the outside of the heel or mid part of the foot. The foot then rolls inwards so that your weight is spread evenly across the front part of your foot. During this stage, your knee will normally follow the direction of your second toe. The 'rolling inwards' motion of your foot as your weight shifts acts as a cushioning for your body.

Neutral pronation is most efficient for running as it provides your body with the most amount of cushioning, as well as keeping your lower limbs balanced and your trunk aligned.


What is overpronation?

This occurs when the foot rolls inwards too much. This causes your weight to spread unevenly, putting excessive weight on your big toe. This puts increased stress on your bones, muscles and tendons. It can also cause your leg to turn inwards putting your knee and hip out of alignment.

Overpronation can be a factor in the developing many common overuse running injuries such as Achilles tendinopathy, medial tibial stress syndrome and stress fractures. Most people overpronate slightly, especially people with flat feet. These people should wear motion control or stability trainers to help control the excessive rolling inwards motion and maintain good alignment. Additionally, overpronation can be corrected using orthotics.


What is underpronation? (supination)

Underpronation is the opposite of overpronation - your feet don't roll inwards enough. This is often happens if the arches of your feet are high. This causes excessive weight on the outside bone of your foot. As with overpronation, this results in poor cushioning for your body which may make stress fractures more likely.

People who underpronate should wear cushioned trainers with maximum shock absorption to reduce the stress on their lower legs and back.Orthotics Orthotics are special insoles worn in your shoe that aim to realign your foot and correct poor biomechanics.

You can buy ready made orthotics or have them custom made. It is important to seek the advice of a professional, such as a podiatrist, before using orthotics as the wrong type of device may do more harm than good.

Gait analysis technology is still developing, and this month, the University of Salford launched its innovative new 3D running clinic, one of only five in the word. Ten local running clubs were invited to test out the new clinic, which uses 3D cameras to track the motion of reflective markers attached to the legs, pelvis and spine as a person runs.  

Michael Sharp from Blackburn Runners said: “The clinic was fantastic. Comparing the differences between elite level professional athletes and recreational runners was really informative. The 3D gait analysis exposed all of my problems related to injuries, and I was given a set of drills and exercises to correct them.”


Where can I get a gait analysis done?

A simple gait analysis need not be expensive. Most specialist retailers such as Sweatshop will conduct them free of charge for their customers, to help them choose the right style trainer. Many national clinics and private healthcare providers also provide gait analysis, however you will have to travel a little further afield to the University of Salford for the 3D services. 

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